AMD Radeon RX 480 Brings Value to All Even VR Gamers

Posted by at 5:01 am on June 1, 2016

AMD RX 480 Event

Nvidia is going after the high-end GPU market with Pascal GP104 cards, with GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 both delivering better than Titan X levels from all the testing done by the press and hardware sites.

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Radeon RX 480

AMD is taking a different path with their new GPU Architecture Polaris 10/11! AMD is going after the mainstream market. Those who were hoping to see AMD’s Polaris take on Nvidia’s Pascal at the high end will be disappointed. AMD is going after the value-conscious gamers with the new Radeon RX 480 and cites Mercury Research data showing 13.8 million people spent between $100 and $300 on graphics cards.

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AMD lists 36 Compute Units for the Radeon RX 480, and unless they’re changing things with Polaris, they’ve used 64 ‘shader cores’ in every GCN CU to date, that would be 2304 cores. That’s fewer CUs than the R9 390, but almost 30 percent more than the R9 380. The price is perhaps the most important aspect, however: starting at $199. Presumably that will be the 4GB model, with 8GB models carrying a moderate price premium—somewhere between $20 and $50 would be about right, given current 2GB vs. 4GB pricing.

The most important number is the TFLOPS, which AMD states as >5 TFLOPS. Again, that’s about in line with the R9 390, at a significantly lower price and power level. If you’re wondering about clock speeds, like Nvidia architectures, peak TFLOPS on GCN ends up being two 32-bit FLOPS (FLoating-point Operations Per Second) per core, times the clock speed. Working back from the >5 TFLOPS and CU number, we get a minimum estimate of 1085MHz. Except, the greater-than sign suggest that AMD hasn’t finalized clock speed yet, so it could be 5.1 TFLOPS or 5.9 TFLOPS (~1280MHz) once the card hits retail.

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On the memory side of things, like the GTX 1070, RX 480 will run GDDR5 at 8000 MT/s (2000MHz base, four bits per cycle). We might be tempted to complain about the 4GB and 8GB models, but at this level of performance, 8GB probably isn’t going to be strictly necessary—and if you’re willing to pay a bit more, you can still get it. The 256-bit bus is a large step down from the R9 390’s 512-bit bus, and AMD hasn’t officially stated whether they’re doing any new forms of memory compression to help compensate.

The only other major item worth mentioning is that RX 480 will support DisplayPort 1.3 / 1.4 HDR, a step up from the DP 1.2 in current products. RX 480 will also be VR-ready, with what appears to be similar performance expectations relative to the R9 290/390 cards.

While this news may not even have the excitement of a $100 card nuke the specs of last year’s $1000 card, the #199 price point with VR support is some that can make all of us happen to see get out there.  Another way to look at it is; the current consoles  get by on 1.3-1.84 TFLOPS, so now a $199 GPU will basically offer three times the performance potential of a PS4. That is a big plus to get more people into PC gaming!

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