After sorting out some difficulties with its live stream earlier today, AMD released a torrent of new information on its upcoming graphics products. Scott live blogged the event, and he’s learning even more about AMD’s latest GPU technology as I write this. I’m sure he’ll have more to share with us soon. In the meantime, here’s a quick recap of the graphics cards announced at the event.
The big daddy is the Radeon R9 290X, whose Hawaii GPU boasts a whopping six billion transistors. Here’s another big number: five teraflops, which is what AMD quoted for the 290X’s compute capability. The chip can push four billion triangles per second, and its memory interface has over 300GB/s of bandwidth. The card has 4GB of RAM, suggesting a 512-bit path to memory.
The R9’s graphics architecture is based on an enhanced version of what will ship inside the Xbone and PlayStation 4. DirectX 11.2 support is on the menu, but we don’t have many other details right now. AMD didn’t say when the Radeon R9 290X will ship or how much it will cost. However, you’ll be able to pre-order a special Battlefield 4 edition of the card starting October 3. The BF4 bundle will be available in limited quantities and only from select partners.
Hawaii is limited to the R9 290X, but there are other members of the R9 series that appear to be based on older silicon. The Radeon R9 280X will be priced at $299 and will come with 3GB of RAM. It looks like it might use the Tahiti silicon familiar from the Radeon HD 7900 series. Then there’s the Radeon R9 270X, which will be a 2GB card priced at $199.
If you have a stricter budget, there are a couple of cards in the Radeon R7 series. The Radeon R7 260X appears to be based on the Bonaire chip that currently powers the Radeon HD 7790. It’s slated to come with 2GB of GDDR5 memory and to ring in at $139. For under $89, you can look forward to the R7 250, which probably isn’t much to look forward to at all. At least it comes with a gig of GDDR5 RAM.
Interestingly, the R9 cards and the R7 260X will include TrueAudio, a DSP-powered audio solution that promises better surround sound for PC games. TrueAudio is supposed to allow developers to easily integrate rich positional audio effects in games. It will also provide surround virtualization for stereo output. There’s a lot to the audio tech that I won’t get into here, but it looks like an interesting addition, especially if AMD has deployed similar tech in next-gen consoles.
The other item of note is Mantle, an API that provides lower-level access to the GPU. AMD has been working on Mantle with the BF4 folks, and they claim it improves graphics performance and better exploits multi-core CPUs. AMD will share more about Mantle soon, and you’ll be able to download a version of Battlefield 4 that takes advantage of the API in December.