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AMD’s new graphic card tech aims to bury Nvidia

Doom at Ultra, 4K, 70FPS? No problem

AMD this week rolled out details of the new graphics architecture that will power its next line of graphics cards, tech that looks like it could potentially leapfrog Nvidia’s high-end Titan X.

Vega, AMD said at CES this week, is designed to remove many traditional constraints from gaming, VR, professional design and machine intelligence arenas.

The new technology upgrades the GPU memory architecture, turbo-charges the geometry pipeline and introduces new compute and pixel engines.

A new line of cards are expected to ship in the first half of the year, according to AMD. No pricing or card specifics were announced.

Here’s the company’s official line on what it says are the four highlights of the VEGA GPU architecture:

The world’s most advanced GPU memory architecture: The Vega architecture enables a new memory hierarchy for GPUs. This radical new approach comes in the form of a new high-bandwidth cache and its controller. The cache features leading-edge HBM2 technology which is capable of transferring terabytes of data every second, doubling the bandwidth-per-pin over the previous generation HBM technology. HBM2 also enables much greater capacity at less than half the footprint of GDDR5 memory. Vega architecture is optimized for streaming very large datasets and can work with a variety of memory types with up to 512TB of virtual address space.

Next-generation geometry pipeline: Today’s games and professional applications make use of incredibly complex geometry enabled by the extraordinary increase in the resolutions of data acquisition devices. The hundreds of millions of polygons in any given frame have meshes so dense that there are often many polygons being rendered per pixel. Vega’s next-generation geometry pipeline enables the programmer to extract incredible efficiency in processing this complex geometry, while also delivering more than 200% of the throughput-per-clock over previous Radeon architectures.1 It also features improved load-balancing with an intelligent workload distributor to deliver consistent performance.

Next-generation compute engine: At the core of the Vega architecture is a new, next-generation compute engine built on flexible compute units that can natively process 8-bit, 16-bit, 32-bit or 64-bit operations in each clock cycle.2 These compute units are optimized to attain significantly higher frequencies than previous generations and their support of variable datatypes makes the architecture highly versatile across workloads.

Advanced pixel engine: The new Vega pixel engine employs a Draw Stream Binning Rasterizer, designed to improve performance and power efficiency. It allows for “fetch once, shade once” of pixels through the use of a smart on-chip bin cache and early culling of pixels invisible in a final scene. Vega’s pixel engine is now a client of the onboard L2 cache, enabling considerable overhead reduction for graphics workloads which perform frequent read-after-write operations.

PC Gamer notes that paired with AMD’s new line of machine intelligence accelerators, the baseline of Vega is about 45 percent faster than Fury X, which powers the company’s current line of cards. That means Vega could out-power the Titan X, according to PC Gamer’s take.

To better put all of this tech and numbers into perspective, AMD released a video showing off Vega in action, playing Doom on Ultra settings at 4K while maintaining a frame rate of 60+FPS. You can watch that video at the top of this post.

A bit more detailed, and eye-glazing, is a small walk-through of what the tech can do for game devs. Watch that below, but maybe grab a coffee first.