AMD HAS ACCIDENTALLY confirmed that graphics cards bearing its long-awaited new Vega GPU microarchitecture will be released this quarter.
The confirmation, made via a now-deleted posting on Facebook, suggests that they will be out by the end of June at the latest. Back in January, May was mooted as the likely launch date.
The news comes just days after AMD unveiled its latest professional graphics card, the Radeon Pro Duo, packing not one, but two Polaris-based GPUs and a not inconsiderable 32GB of GDDR5 memory.
The company has acquired the habit of lining-up embargoed press briefings normally no more than a week before a launch. With the long tail of online media invited to such briefings, there are invariably leaks ahead of the official launch date. That happened with both the Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 unveilings.
However, AMD has already revealed a fair bit about Vega, so the launch is unlikely to contain many big surprises.
The company has shown off Vega, and what it can do, at various trade shows over the past few months. It's been demonstrated running Doom at 4k Ultra graphics settings, Star Wars Battlefront, also at 4k Ultra settings, as well as tackling 8k video content in Adobe's Premiere Pro Creative Cloud video editing suite.
As a result, hopes are high that Vega-based graphics cards could out-do Nvidia, and at more competitive prices.
Technically, what's expected from Vega will be 4,096 cores built on a 14nm GFX9 core architecture. A consumer version is expected to feature up to 8GB of HBM2 memory, while a (probably expensive) premium version will have up to 16GB of HBM2 memory.
In the second half of the year, AMD is expected to release an even more powerful (and no doubt even more expensive) Vega-based graphics card, with the wattage cranked up to 300 watts.
AMD's long-trailed Vega microarchitecture, like its Zen CPU architecture, can't come soon enough. It is intended to compete against, and potentially out-do, Nvidia's 10-series graphics cards, based on its rival Pascal architecture.
Nvidia has been bleeding out new 10-series cards since the middle of last year to highly positive reviews. AMD, for its part, has responded with its Polaris microarchitecture running on 16nm and 14nm FinFET process GPUs, pricing the resulting products keenly against Nvidia's arguably more powerful devices.
For its part, Nvidia is planning a next-generation GeForce 20 family of GPUs based on its Volta microarchitecture and GDDR6 memory next year. GDDR6 memory ought to be capable of 16Gbps bandwidth, while the GPUs themselves will be built to a 12nm FinFET manufacturing process at TMSC's fabrication facilities.
AMD's roadmap, meanwhile, indicates that it ought to be moving quickly from 14nm Polaris and Vega microarchitectures this year, to 7nm Vega and Navi microarchitecture GPUs based on HBM2 and HBM3 fast-memory technologies in 2018 and 2019.
Either way, PC buyers can look forward to another big ratcheting-up of resolutions for games and graphics applications if they open their wallets wide enough and often enough over the next couple of years. µ
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