AMD has been working on Polaris GPU efficiency and from the looks of things it’s paid off in a big way. Some tweaking behind the scenes with the metal mask layers on the PCB and the graphics card’s power delivery systems has allowed it to achieve as much as 50% better performance per watt in the Radeon RX 400 series graphics cards.
The efficiency improvements look to be affecting both the Polaris 10 and Polaris 11 GPUs, and the touted gains certainly push AMD’s graphics cards to greater efficiency even that Nvidia’s fantastic Pascal GPUs.
The knock on effect to power demands is going to be sizeable. Previously the flagship Polaris model, the Radeon RX 480, drew on 150W power. With these changes it’s dropping right down to 95W. That’s alarmingly close to the 75W sweet spot of being powered entirely by the PCIe slot.
Meanwhile the low-end RX 460 absolutely bottoms out now at less than 50W. AMD has even managed to use the efficiency improvements to cram in some small clock speed boosts on Polaris 11. Tee previous 2.15 TFLOPs performance has been bumped up to 2.5 TFLOPs. That’s theoretically faster than a GTX 960.
These revised Polaris chips are going to find their way onto the market initially as embedded chips rather than dedicated graphics cards though. This should make them very desirable for laptop gamers, an area which AMD has really struggled with in recent years.
It’s unclear at this point whether AMD has any plans to bring these revised GPUs to the desktop market. From the looks of an old leaked internal presentation slide it appears as if AMD has had plans in place for a revision for some time. From the looks of its these half steps will carry a '5' at the end, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see Radeon RX 465, RX 475 etc crop up somewhere soon.
What do you make of these performance optimisations to AMD's Polaris chips? Is power efficiency important to you? Let us know!