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European Union study considers curbing graphics card power

AMD claims its cards could be affected
Tue Oct 16 2012, 11:58
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THE EUROPEAN UNION (EU) is looking into putting more pressure on GPU designers to improve energy efficiency.

The EU published a preparatory study (PDF) of the energy efficiency of computers and displays that included figures for the performance of components for a given power usage. The EU's study includes details on the memory bandwidth of graphics cards that fall within seven power brackets, a move that according to Nordic Hardware's AMD source will shut down availability of high-end graphics cards in the EU.

According to the EU study, the top-end G7 energy bracket would not allow for a graphics card to have more than 320GB/s memory bandwidth between the GPU and its frame buffer. Both AMD and Nvidia's high-end graphics cards already get close to 290GB/s, meaning that the next generation cards are likely to come close to or surpass that figure.

While Nordic Hardware quotes its source within AMD as claiming the EU's stance could lead to its cards not being available in Europe, the reality is GPU designers have been living in an alternate world for the past decade. While CPU design teams from Intel, AMD and the many ARM vendors have been working hard to reduce power consumption of processor chips, GPU vendors have continued to release high-end graphics cards that consume upwards of 180W under load.

The EU might not strictly enforce such a regulation should it actually become law, but something needs to be done to persuade GPU vendors to lower their TDP expectations, as it could lead to engineers looking at new ways to increase performance without being able to bank on having 180W at their fingertips. µ


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