AMD Vega GPU Architecture Shown At CES 2017 - Everything You Need To Know

Written by Jon Sutton on Thu, Jan 5, 2017 4:14 PM

AMD is busy preparing to blow the doors off CES 2017 later today. While Polaris impressed us with its mainstream focus, the anticipation surround the enthusiast tier Vega chip is palpable. We’ve now been given our first ever glimpse of the Vega GPU, AMD’s top-end graphics chip which will power the next generation of Radeon graphics cards. Just like Polaris, Vega is manufactured on the 14nm process, although AMD Vega is about more than just specs. This isn’t a simple graphics card refresh with some clock speed bumps. Everything about the Radeon architecture is being redesigned from the ground up.

AMD Vega will officially be the first graphics chip to support HBM2 (second generation High Bandwidth Memory). This allows for up to 8x the capacity per stack and twice the bandwidth per pin, all while having a much smaller footprint than GDDR5. This is the start of AMD’s efforts to massively increase the amount of video memory available to us. AMD believes the growth in processing power is outpacing growth in memory capacity by a significant margin, and the games of the future will benefit from Radeon graphics cards not having to sacrifice their capacity.

In total we’re looking at at least two 4GB stacks of HBM2, providing a total of 8GB VRAM, although it’s likely we’ll also see a 16GB HBM2 premium configuration on day one. This has a total memory bandwidth of 512GB/s, with memory clock speeds up to 2Gb/s, up from 1Gb/s on the original HBM.

Another key difference is the introduction of High-Bandwidth Cache. That’s the new name AMD has coined for the VRAM, or the framebuffer. In the case of Vega 10 this is comprised of HBM2 memory, but this can in fact be other memory systems for cheaper costs. This will be managed by the HBC controller, handling GPU data, communicating with the rest of the system and ensuring a smooth flow. Its potential is huge, with a maximum addressable memory of 512TB. Radeon boss Raja Koduri calls it “the world’s most scalable GPU memory architecture.”

In essence what you are looking at is a more efficient manner of managing memory resources and ensuring you’re getting peak performance. AMD uses the example of The Witcher 3 and Fallout 4 at Ultra 4K, which are both currently allocated more than 8GB VRAM and yet actually consume less than half of this.

Taking efficiency a step further is Vega’s new programmable geometry pipeline. This is a nifty little tool which helps the GPU identify what geometry the player as actually able to see at any one time, only rendering the necessary parts. Less resources are wasted on rendering parts of a scene you can’t even see. The example Koduri gave is Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. Within the market scene there are around 220 million polygons rendered, yet only 2 million are visible to the player.

Also at CES, AMD showed Vega 10 along with a Zen CPU running both DOOM and Star Wars Battlefront at 4K/ Ultra. In the case of DOOM, Vega 10 is capable of hitting around 70 frames per second average, albeit with one heavy dip down to around 30 fps during a takedown. For point of reference, a GeForce GTX 1080 will struggle to hit 60 FPS average. Star Wars Battlefront meanwhile was bizarrely shown on a 4K monitor locked to 60Hz via V-Sync. Nevertheless, it was pulling in a solid 60 frames per second. This AMD Radeon finally delivering a competitive single-GPU 4K solution. From the looks of early benchmarks Vega 10 looks to be marginally more powerful than a top-tier GTX 1080.

Now for the downside. We didn’t get any graphics card reveals at CES 2017 from AMD, as some were perhaps expecting. Instead it’s looking as if we’re going to have to wait until the summer to see what Vega is really about. This will give AMD plenty more time to improve performance and efficiency even more. Unfortunately for AMD this means Nvidia is surely going to have its next generation of GPUs ready to launch soon after. The hype for Vega is very much real then, but even the most ardent of Radeon fans are going to struggle to wait yet another six months for the latest hardware considering what's available on store shelves right now.

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04:29 Jan-15-2017

as insane and awesome as this card will be, I'm not all that excited about it, I'm not going to buy one, I have no reason to, the biggest bottleneck in my build is my CPU which will be replaced by some kind of Zen CPU, after that I'm fighting against my monitor which I do not plan on swapping out for a long time. I am however excited to see Navi, when it gets here, by then I will hopefully have the budget for some really incredible hardware

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11:05 Jan-22-2017

I might be getting vega and zen if they are priced correctly... Intel and nvidia are great but the prices are quite high because AMD is losing the market share because of old tech. So in another words if Vega and Ryzen are priced lower than intels and/or nvidias products Im definetly getting them.

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19:21 Jan-13-2017

Even I play the Battlefront on 3200x1800 and Ultra quality at 60fps, I have videos in my channel in youtube, and DOOM 3200x1800 on ultra 60,70 to 110fps, 3200x1800 is not 4k, but is 3.5k I think...

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19:24 Jan-13-2017

to play most powerful GPUs on this 2 games In 60fps is nothing, it have to be tested with more heavy game not these two...I play even Battlefield 1 on Ultra settings and 3200x1800 resolution on 50-60fps dx12, vsync ON.

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11:09 Jan-22-2017

16:9 4K 3840 x 2160 is 44% higher resolution than 3200 x 1800

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23:32 Jan-23-2017

from 2k is 100%, from 3k is 50%, from 3.5k is 25%, not 44%, and I speak about a GPU which are from 2015, this card are from 2017,my CPU is from 2014, RYZEN is from 2017, my ram is ddr3 1866 Mhz,with the new hardware you can use ddr4 4000mhz

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23:33 Jan-23-2017

for the same performance...I mean that no way the performance to be this, I mean that the new hardware will be better than this results!

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13:18 Jan-13-2017

can anyone suggest me a new gpu under 80$.my current gpu is gt610

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11:01 Jan-14-2017

buy a used 750 ti

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15:12 Jan-14-2017

For older GPUs, AMD is the way to go due to better performance of older GPUs in comparision to Nvidia.
Try to get a R7 265 or 360.

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17:10 Jan-14-2017

OR save 20$ more and get a rx460, there are a lot of options

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16:14 Jan-15-2017

thx guys!!! i will think again or try increasing my budget

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07:59 Jan-12-2017

i don't want hype anymore, i need proof

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23:38 Jan-10-2017

It doesn't matter what GPU they will release, if they keep releasing crappy drivers that crash 10 times a day.

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15:14 Jan-11-2017

LOL...
First people said AMD does not releases drivers... Now, they release so many... LOL....
Recent AMD drivers have had lesser issue then Nvidia drivers bro...
Try to google that.

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05:56 Jan-10-2017

so about a year later from when i got my 1070 for $380.
im not sure why AMD people are writing so many dumb comments about how the 1070s and the 1080s were "stupid" purchases and "throwing money away" when I have a gfx card that is simply incredible for the money and an incredible leap in tech allowing for very impressive performance/$.


not that I've seen it much on this site, but reddit, youtube, and other cesspools. it's as immature as console wars


tho, nintendo>sega

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05:57 Jan-10-2017

with exceptions... gamegear>>>>gameboy and Dreamcast>>>>>>>>>anything

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13:36 Jan-10-2017

1070 was an awesome purchase. But I do not think 1080 justify that price against a 1070 itself.
But premium charges were expected so they are priced just fine. The $50 increase from 970 and 980 was not expected though.

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11:18 Jan-11-2017

if the 1070 cost 380usd in my country, then that would be an awesome deal for sure. Though the cheapest I can get it here or from nearby countries is around 500-550 euros stock cooler stock speeds stock everything... so for us at least it doesn't really worth it. But still I'm a bit disappointed with amd that just made the rx 480 and stood there... I mean, where the heck are the 480X and the 490?

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15:18 Jan-11-2017

Everyone wanted VEGA sooner. But Vega is a completely new architecture and is most probably Raja's baby :P
Other architecture till now were just refinements of the already existing one when Raja joined. He is most likely the top brain for Vega and it takes some time with R&D available to AMD.
Lets see how it turns out.

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23:24 Jan-11-2017

I hope it performs to what the rumours and speculation state. Good even competition is good for the end user. Never understood the team red v blue or red v green team stuff. Other than drivers and performance on particular games, I always felt the only thing that matters is general expected performance/$. Only downside for AMD from my perspective was they lacked high end, but most people don't buy high end, and they seem to be correcting it now regardless.

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23:25 Jan-11-2017

Wouldn't have minded going red again, but they didn't have that 1070 Amp Extreme for $380 was obviously too much for me to pass on from my old 660 SC and it has been phenomenal.

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09:13 Jan-12-2017

Yeah sure... 1070 is a beast card.
AMD challenging Volta in their video was a big surprise to me. I would be awesome if Vega is as good as it seems.

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04:59 Jan-10-2017

too bad every new pc game is an unoptimized mess

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17:43 Jan-10-2017

Except doom and battlefield 1

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12:14 Jan-07-2017

What many have not noticed is that one of the videos show that AMD is teasing Vega against Volta.
It was Voltage written in video and AMD covered it up to make it volta.
I guess they think Vega is good enough to take on even Volta in the near future as this is likely the 4096 core and Vega can go upto 6144 as expected.
http://videocardz.com/65521/amd-vega-10-and-vega-20-slides-revealed

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21:00 Jan-07-2017

As I was saying in one of the first comment's reply here. Agree

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05:37 Jan-07-2017

The thing I worry most about is seeing a huge increase in video memory on new generation cards and then seeing AAA games that handle their memory poorly, using 10 gigabytes when they could be using more like 5 with some more work and optimization... This could seriously cripple older cards in newer games :/

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10:36 Jan-10-2017

never thought of that very well put though

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11:22 Jan-11-2017

in order to sell the newer stuff, then yes, they are willing to cripple the older in any way possible.

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01:06 Jan-07-2017

I can wait till summer. I want AMD to get this right and not rush it.

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08:49 Jan-06-2017

can't wait for VEGA... hope will be soon on stock in the shop :-)

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06:29 Jan-06-2017

"Deus Ex: Mankind Divided : Within the market scene there are around 220 million polygons rendered, yet only 2 million are visible to the player"
To think they're considering this, it should be a job for the game developers. Well done AMD

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09:04 Jan-06-2017

I'm sorry if this looks stupid but, wasn't this geometry pipeline always the case ? i remember when facing a direction with less polygons the FPS goes up ... so why is this new ?

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13:42 Jan-06-2017

its not about facing an area with less polygons, its the fact even in heavy polygon areas they are rendering the ones we cant see.
take for example the are with 220 million polygons but you only see 2 million...they are still rendering the other 218 million polygons. this is going to fix that but keeping the information there for the polygons but not rendering them, thus eliminating the added stress.

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04:46 Jan-07-2017

I feel like i've seen talks about this in the past.. but not by amd..

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14:22 Jan-07-2017

There has been. It's had to be implemented in engine or driver. This will make it easier for programmers on all ends.

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21:04 Jan-05-2017

up to 512 TERABYTES of VRAM ????!!! oh, this gonna really give insane power to lazy devs not to bother with optimization of their games at all...

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22:05 Jan-05-2017

its actually virtual addressable ram.
this article misses a lot of what was actually displayed and discussed.
the memory controller is to correct an issue where stuff sits in memory taking up space and bandwidth, instead of having to deal with that with game patches and driver updates.

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10:32 Jan-06-2017

still, I almost got heart attack :D

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20:21 Jan-05-2017

No release dates, no prices, no performance numbers... gtfo. It is already fishy again...

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18:17 Jan-05-2017

So I'm saving up for Vega but I'm wondering if my CPU is going to give me a big bottleneck, I know it's a decent CPU but I'm looking at one of the top 2 Vega GPU's for my next upgrade.

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18:22 Jan-05-2017

Hard saying how big the bottleneck will be, but there will be a bottleneck, atleast in some games.... top tier GPUs really need an I7 pushing them.... I really can't imagine the bottleneck would be big enough to be very noticeable in actual gameplay though, but you wont see the absolute max potential.

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23:02 Jan-05-2017

I'm running a GTX 980 Ti with a 4690K and having no issues.

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04:28 Jan-06-2017

That doesn't mean there wont be a bottleneck in some games.... just because you think you haven't encountered one yet(and have you REALLY tested for one? A small bottleneck can be hard to detect!), doesn't mean one cant exist, also consider the top tier Vega is going to be quite a bit more powerful than a 980 TI

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04:30 Jan-06-2017

Lets realize what an I5 is first and foremost, it's a 4 core CPU with 4 threads, it may be a fast 4 core 4 thread CPU, but it's STILL just a 4/4 CPU!

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04:38 Jan-06-2017

And now let's define what a bottleneck is, a bottleneck happens when a GPU is being held back from performing at it's MAXIMUM potential because the CPU cannot keep up, and if you do not believe this situation can exist with an I5 in SOME games, then I suggest you do a little research and go look at some benchmarks!

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08:18 Jan-06-2017

@Dquavius, Your i5 is faster to begin with & has a 30%oc. That's significantly faster than an i5-6600.
It also ignores the fact that some games are more cpu intensive. I have an i7 & The Witcher 3 uses all 8 threads. While you won't have any issues, the max performance of your gtx 980 ti will not be realized in that scenario.

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23:09 Jan-06-2017

well not to mention u can overclock i5-6600 to get more gains u still can push ure gpu harder so that gpu be the bottleneck!

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11:56 Jan-07-2017

And i'm running my 390x without bottleneck aswell :)

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00:37 Jan-10-2017

Only very few games that actually demand more than 4 threads actively (as in 100% cpu usage continuously) like BF1 in multiplayer. Mostly just need decent single thread performance with wayyy less than 100% utilization of 4 threads.

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23:18 Jan-05-2017

i don't think if it's worthy to upgrade u can push the gpu way harder so ure gpu be the bottleneck!
hell i don't even think u need the top vega gpu for 1080p 60HZ it's just overkill!

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18:14 Jan-05-2017

They should had shown Doom with nightmare settings.

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18:02 Jan-05-2017

well my 3rd build will be Vega and Ryzen

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01:42 Jan-07-2017

still waiting for ryzen to upgrade my old 3rd gen i5 cpu!

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17:29 Jan-05-2017

Well so far NVidia is having the upper hand solely because of the higher clock speeds and the fact that most of the devs developed for NVidia GPU rather than AMD. Hope AMD can turn it around.

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17:28 Jan-05-2017

Although I really liked AMD I got myself an GTX 1070 last summer, disappointed that there wasn't any single proper substitution to my two aging HD 7870's.
And I am glad I did, as I would be pulling my hair out now waiting for a decent gaming GPU from AMD. By the time they push it out, NVIDIA will have a better answer.

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17:15 Jan-05-2017

GREAT!

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