SAN JOSE, Calif. — Analysts are impressed with Vega, Advanced Micro Devices’ next-generation graphics processor. However, they don’t expect that it will alter the neck-and-neck performance race it is running with its archrival, Nvidia.
AMD disclosed the architecture of the new GPU but not details of its specifications or performance. Vega sports advances across its memory and logic subsystems.
In memory, the chip will ride a silicon substrate with up to two stacks of version 2 of high-bandwidth memory (HBM2) and sport an improved L2 cache and cache controller. In logic, it includes a new programmable geometry pipeline, compute unit, and pixel engine.
The chip will sport significantly higher frequencies than AMD’s current gigahertz GPUs, the company said. In addition, it should deliver twice the instructions and double the geometry performance per clock cycle, according to Raja Koduri, chief architect of AMD’s graphics division.
Vega could deliver an average 50% boost on Viewperf performance and 20% on application benchmarks compared to its current Polaris chip, said Alex Herrera, a senior analyst at Jon Peddie Research. He called it a “push beyond what we’d call minor incremental improvements from the Graphics Core Next (GCN)” of 2011, but “not a from-scratch design, still fundamentally carrying on the original GCN approach and architecture.”
The chip should ship by June, beating by several months Nvidia’s next-generation GPU, Volta, also expected to use HBM2 memory. “While Vega looks to be a win for AMD, it’s not likely to be a major game-changer, unless Nvidia were to stumble down the homestretch bringing Volta to market,” he said.
Nvidia is expected to refresh its current Pascal GPU with higher clock speeds and GDDR5 memory this year, but save Volta and HBM2 until early 2018, said Kevin Krewell, senior analyst with Tirias Research.
Analysts expect that Vega and Nvidia’s 2017 Pascal refresh will both be made in 14-nm process technology. “I don't expect Nvidia to move to 10 nm or 7 nm until Volta,” said Krewell.
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Vega sports upgrades across its memory and logic subsystems. (Image: AMD)