Wednesday, June 17


Nano Nano

So AMD paper-launched their new video card lineup at E3 yesterday.  We already knew that most of the 300-series were just 200-series cards with new stencils and (in some cases) more memory.

The extra memory is welcome, though; with 2GB with 285 came up a bit short; with 4GB the 380 is a much better card, though it's the exact same chip.

The real excitement was around the new Fury cards - the top end cards now get a name and not just a number.  We knew that the Fury and Fury X were coming, because AMD announced their use of HBM (High Bandwidth Memory) months ago, but they still kept a surprise up their corporate sleeves.

HBM is a new answer to video cards' ever-growing demand for memory bandwidth.  If you look at Nvidia's current high-end cards, they use a 384-bit memory bus running at an effective 7GHz.  With HBM, AMD have flipped that around and only run at 1GHz - which demands far less power - but on a bus that's 4096 bits wide.

And they achieve that by attaching the memory not to a circuit board, but to a silicon interposer.  4096 traces on a circuit board would be hugely expensive - and just plain huge - but on silicon it's easy.  The interposer is far larger than a normal chip, but since it only carries wires and not transistors, it can be built easily on old, reliable equipment, and doesn't have the size restrictions of actual logic chips.

Anyway, AMD showed the water-cooled Fury X, which offers 50% more performance than their previous high-end card at the same power consumption - 8.6 TFLOPS vs. 5.6 TFLOPS - the air-cooled Fury, about 15% slower and 15% cheaper, the forthcoming Fury X2, which is two Fury Xs on a single card, and the R9 Nano, which came as a complete surprise.

Essentially, the Fury X is the fastest single-GPU card AMD can currently make; the Fury is the best price/performance they can achieve; the Fury X2 is the fastest card they can make that can actually fit in a normal computer.

The Nano is designed to deliver the best possible performance per watt.  The Fury X delivers 50% better performance per watt than the previous generation (using the same 28nm silicon process at TSMC), but the Nano is designed to run not at the optimum settings for performance, but at the optimum settings for power consumption, and the result is that it's faster than AMD's previous high-end card at about half the power.

And half the size.  By high-end video card standards, it's tiny, about 6" long.

AMD haven't yet release final specs and pricing for the Nano, but I'll be watching for it eagerly.  I don't need the absolute fastest video card I can get, but the card I have barely fits in the case, and makes upgrades incredibly awkward.  The Nano should be about twice as fast as the card I have, use less power, and take up half the room.  And give me more DisplayPort outputs so I can run a full 4K triple-monitor setup.

The real breakthroughs in performance will come in the next couple of years, as AMD and Nvidia combine HBM and HBM2 (twice as fast) with the next-generation 14nm silicon processes that are finally coming on line for them.  But AMD with its Fury range and Nvidia with their Maxwell linup (960, 970, 980, and Titan) have given us a tantalising taste of the near future.  Moore's law isn't dead quite yet.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 09:12 PM | Comments (8) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
Post contains 593 words, total size 4 kb.

1 Hmmm, I just went from an nVidia GTX 650 to a 980. It's definitely better, although I'm having trouble quantifying, other than it's a heck of a lot quieter. Some games positively tortured the 650, and the fan was loud even at 15% duty cycle. Apparently there's a 980 Ti I should have held out for, but oh well.

Since I use a 1080p TV for a monitor, I don't really need the 4 monitor capability or use the DisplayPort connections.

Liquid cooling is a technology I can really get behind. It certainly reduced my noise in that area as well. Bt I think there should be some thought given to case and board redesign to accommodate better cooling systems.

Posted by: Mauser at Thursday, June 18 2015 05:09 PM (TJ7ih)

2 is offering at the summer sale cheap dedicated servers starting at 90$ / month. all servers are dula quad core xeon servers , starting from 32 gb ddr3 ecc memory , 240 gb ssd drives till 1 tb ssd drive, 1gbps connection and great support

Posted by: Cheap ssd dedicated servers starting at 90$ at Friday, June 19 2015 10:21 AM (3yPoY)

3 Yeah, the 980 is a huge jump over a 650, the 980Ti is only an incremental step beyond that.  For a 1080p TV, the 980 should deliver everything you could want, and it's pretty good on power consumption.

AMD's 290X card was close behind the 980 on performance, and a lot cheaper, but used a lot more power; these new cards from AMD basically bring them back in line with Nvidia, and in the case of the R9 Nano, take them to the next step beyond.

Once the two companies get their hands on 14nm technology (within the next 12 months) we can expect to see performance double in pretty short order.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Friday, June 19 2015 03:03 PM (PiXy!)

4 What I'm mildly curious about is that my TV says it has a 120 Hz refresh rate, so would it work with the nVidia 3D glasses? Not that I have a lot of software that would support 3D.

Posted by: Mauser at Friday, June 19 2015 06:17 PM (TJ7ih)

5 Ars Technica says that AMD are in huge trouble financially and are looking for ways to spin off troubled divisions. They've already done a lot of that.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at Sunday, June 21 2015 02:35 PM (+rSRq)

6  Maybe.  But it's worth noting that on the one hand, AMD is providing the CPU and graphics for both the Xbox One and the Playstation 4, and on the other hand, Intel's mobile division lost more money in a single year than AMD's gross revenue.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Sunday, June 21 2015 09:32 PM (PiXy!)

7 Wait. Watercooled!?

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Sunday, June 21 2015 11:55 PM (ohzj1)

8 I blogged about it.  At the same time I upgraded my video card, I got a water cooler for the CPU. It's very effective, much quieter, except that the noise it does make is more of a note, so a little distracting there.

Posted by: Mauser at Monday, June 22 2015 02:28 PM (TJ7ih)

9 Yes, closed-loop water coolers are pretty nice.  Probably overkill unless you're overclocking, but perfect if you are.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Monday, June 22 2015 09:10 PM (2yngH)

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Apple pies are delicious. But never mind apple pies. What colour is a green orange?

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