AMD FirePro family gets a dose of Graphics Core Next

AMD's Graphics Core Next GPU architecture has finally come to its FirePro line of professional graphics products. The new FirePro W600 isn't the fire-breathing monster one might expect, though. Sure, it has multiple heads—six of them, to be exact. The card comes with that many Mini DisplayPort 1.2 outputs and is designed to power multi-screen display walls. Each display out can push a maximum resolution of 4096x2304, and the resolution cap on Eyefinity's Single Large Surface mode has been raised to 16000x16000 (or 8000x8000 with the Windows Aero interface enabled).

Performing complex rendering at those kinds of resolutions requires a lot of horsepower, but the W600 doesn't appear to have much on tap. Although it's based on the GCN architecture, the card looks like it uses the Cape Verde GPU behind the Radeon HD 7700 series. AMD's press release, presentation slides, and datasheet are missing details on the W600's ALU count and clock speeds. However, we do know that the W600's 128-bit memory interface is a perfect match for Cape Verde. That chip features 640 shader ALUs and is found on graphics cards that cost as little as $110.

AMD has confirmed that the W600 has 640 shader ALUs and a 600MHz core clock speed. For reference, the Radeon HD 7750 has an 800MHz core clock.

Why use such a low-end GPU? Power efficiency. The FirePro W600 is a single-slot solution, and AMD makes a big deal about the fact that it consumes less than 75W, allowing it to draw power exclusively from a PCI Express slot. Those attributes should come in handy for extremely large display walls with enough screens to require multiple graphics cards.

Interestingly, the W600 supports multi-stream transport hubs that will allow a single DisplayPort out to fuel up to four 1080p screens. Those hubs will be available this summer and cost $40-100, according to AMD.

To help multi-display configurations look their best, the FirePro W600 can compensate for the presence of screen bezels, and it has an edge-overlap feature designed to create seamless displays with multiple projectors. There are new Eyefinity modes, too: up to six screens can now be arranged in a single horizontal line or vertical tower.

Six-screen configs aren't cheap, and neither is the FirePro W600. The card is set to sell for $599, or roughly 100 bucks per display output.

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