from the where-no-GPU-has-gone-before dept.
AMD has announced the Radeon Vega Frontier Edition, a high-end GPU based on a new architecture (Vega 1) which will launch in June.
Unlike some other recent AMD GPUs such as the Radeon Fury X, the Radeon Vega card has half precision compute capability (FP16 operations) that is twice as fast as single precision compute. AMD is advertising 13 TFLOPS single precision, 26 TFLOPS double precision for the Radeon Vega Frontier Edition.
The GPU includes 16 GB of High Bandwidth Memory 2.0 VRAM. The per-pin memory clock is up to around 1.88 Gbps, but total memory bandwidth is slightly lower than the Radeon Fury X, due to the memory bus being cut to 2048-bit from 4096-bit. However, the Fury X included only 4 GB of HBM1. The new card could include four stacks with 4 GB each, or it could be the first product to include 8 GB stacks of High Bandwidth Memory, a capacity which has not been sold by Samsung or SK Hynix to date.
The new GPU is aimed at professional/workstation users rather than gamers:
As important as the Vega hardware itself is, for AMD the target market for the hardware is equally important if not more. Vega's the first new high-end GPU from the company in two years, and it comes at a time when GPU sales are booming. Advances in machine learning have made GPUs the hottest computational peripheral since the x87 floating point co-processor, and unfortunately for AMD, they've largely missed the boat on this. Competitor NVIDIA has vastly grown their datacenter business over just the last year on the back of machine learning, thanks in large part to the task-optimized capabilities of the Pascal architecture. And most importantly of all, these machine learning accelerators have been highly profitable, fetching high margins even when the cards are readily available.
For AMD then, Vega is their chance to finally break into the machine learning market in a big way. The GPU isn't just a high-end competitor, but it offers high performance FP16 and INT8 modes that earlier AMD GPU architectures lacked, and those modes are in turn immensely beneficial to machine learning performance. As a result, for the Vega Frontier Edition launch, AMD is taking a page from the NVIDIA playbook: rather than starting off the Vega generation with consumer cards, they're going to launch with professional cards for the workstation market.
To be sure, the Radeon Vega Frontier Edition is not officially branded as a Pro or WX series card. But in terms of AMD's target market, it's unambiguously a professional card. The product page is hosted on the pro graphics section of AMD's website, the marketing material is all about professional uses, and AMD even goes so far as to tell gamers to hold off for cheaper gaming cards later on in their official blog post. Consequently the Vega FE is about the closest analogue AMD has to NVIDIA's Titan series cards, which although are gaming capable, in the last generation they have become almost exclusively professional focused.