Updated: Radeon Vega Frontier Edition launches today for $999 and up


— 9:36 AM on June 27, 2017

AMD's Radeon Vega Frontier Edition graphics card launches today, and we have official answers for most of the questions that have arisen about the Vega GPU's specs and capabilities over the past couple of months. The Frontier Edition family will comprise a pair of cards: an air-cooled model that's launching today for $999, and a liquid-cooled version that's launching in Q3 for $1499. AMD isn't talking about the specs or performance of the liquid-cooled card today, but it's divulging enough for me to conclude that my predictions of the chip's clocks and peak performance in May were correct for the most part.

First up, the air-cooled Vega FE will have a "peak engine clock" of 1600 MHz. With 4096 "nCUs," that'll yield 26.2 TFLOPS of FP16 performance and 13.1 TFLOPS of FP32 math. AMD further revealed that the card will perform FP64 operations at 1/16 the FP32 rate, or 819 GFLOPS. Given this card's focus on pro visualization, game development, and deep-learning tasks, the fact that it's running FP64 at the minimum rate possible for a GCN-derived part isn't that great of a surprise.

Each Vega Frontier Edition card will have 16GB of "high-bandwidth cache," AMD's new internal term for what we used to refer to as graphics RAM. This conceptual HBC is likely HBM2 memory in practice, given its 2048-bit bus width and 1.89 Gb/s transfer rate (double the 945 MHz clock rate). In aggregate, that means the card has 483 GB/s of memory bandwidth to tap.

In an interesting disclosure, AMD says the Vega FE will have peak polygon throughput of 6.4 GTris/s, a figure that may confirm the fundamental organization of the Vega GPU as four main shader clusters. AMD further told me that the card can handle 256 texels per clock, and that it has 64 ROPs. The company projects the air-cooled card will slot into a thermal envelope of less than 300W. The air-cooled card requires two eight-pin PCIe connectors, and it offers three DisplayPorts and one HDMI port.

None of the usual suspects in the PC hardware media got a Vega Frontier Edition card to test, and we expect that's primarily because of the card's pro graphics focus. AMD envisions Frontier Edition cards crunching through deep-learning prototypes before they're deployed out to Radeon Instinct server farms, powering photorealistic visualization of giant data sets, and underpinning every step of the game-design workflow. AMD says pro users will be able to flip between a "Radeon Pro Mode" and a "Gaming Mode" in the card's drivers to serve those tasks.

Product pages for the air-cooled and liquid-cooled versions of the Frontier Edition are live on Newegg now, although prospective buyers can only sign up and wait for availability news at this time. If you've got a line on a Frontier Edition, let us know if you can be without it for a few days.

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