It’s fair to say that the ‘rumor’ period before a products launch is probably the most exciting; the speculation, the hype and looking for any shred of information you can lay your hands on. The latest entry into the Radeon series for AMD is no exception, and we’re all scrambling to get an idea on just how the cards will perform when they’re hooked into your PCIe slots. Now Nvidia have shown their hand (at least for now) with Maxwell, there’s a lot of customers who’re simply playing the waiting game for AMD’s cards.
There’s been a lot of rumors – and frankly, a few of the ones we’ve covered are likely untrue, or at least looking increasingly unlikely. In late November, there was a slew of benchmarks showing a mysterious GPU (known as Captain Jack) dominating benchmarks – but since then, the person who’d supposedly gotten their hands on the cards had grown rather silent. Furthermore, promised images of the cards didn’t materialize – so while it doesn’t completely rule the numbers out, it’s likely they’re not accurate / false. So, if AMD’s Captain Jack was indeed a fake, what do we know?
In reality – we’re virtually in the dark about the real, final specs of the video card. Two things rumors that have withstood the test of time are that we’ll be seeing 4096 Shaders (thanks to 64 Compute Units, each CU holds 64 shaders). This info comes to us from the well known analysis and benchmarking software SisSoft Sandra. They point to specs which read “4096SP 64C 1GHz, 4GB 1.25GHz 4096-bit) (OpenCL)” way back in October of last year. It’s possible that this is an engineering sample of the R9 390X.
The second of the two rumors is HBM (High Bandwidth Memory – backed up by LinkedIn profiles) in the Radeon R9 390x. The problem is – it’ll be an awfully big GPU. It’s really hard to know if it’s accurate – after all, we’re also hearing about the 2.5D stacked die, rather than 3d, at least according to LinkedIn profiles…. but the reality is, we’re just guessing based on supposed leaks.
We know a few things for certain – for one, a new AMD board started certification. The codename for this new board is the rather unwieldy C872, but if you head to Zauba (whose website contains the import and export data for India) and search for C880, you’ll see that particular board is used for Fiji XT.
We’ve also seen the cards popup on a retailer CDON, but since they’ve been pulled down (I wonder why), but that’s not before PRISGUIDE grabbed the available information. There is a bit of info regarding the specifications – such as a 384 bit memory interface and that it supports CrossFire, but I’d take pretty much all of it with a truckload of salt. We simply don’t know how accurate any of that will be, and it’s likely place holder info for now.Regarding CDON – it’s a bit difficult to know why the listing appeared briefly. It’s possible (and most likely) an opps by one of the admins of the website. In other words, they meant to setup the listing and hide it, but instead accidentally it was made public. It’s possible that this isn’t the case – and was a bit of a PR stunt on their part, but then again, I don’t think they’d want to risk upsetting AMD or other vendors.
So, with all of this info – it ties into the fact that the GPUs release will be… well… soon. We’ve all heard rumors that it’ll be February, but more recent rumors are telling us it’ll be “Q2, 2015” – which of course could mean (at least in theory) the 1st of March to some point in June. It’s really down to speculation – which sucks, but there you have it.
AMD Radeon HD Tonga PRO Prototype OpenGL Engine says GFXBench. Tonga, you might recall, is the codename for the GPU inside AMD’s R9 285 (review). The 285 features 1752 Shaders, while the pro supposedly goes the whole hog, and ramps this number to 2048. Rumors have circulated for some time that we’ll not be seeing the Tonga Pro in the R9 200 range, and instead be pushed to a GPU in the 300 range. It’s possible therefore that it’ll sit in the mid range, providing enough grunt for say 1080P or 1440P gaming. Particularly because the memory interface has been widened to a 384 bit bus and the VRAM raised from 2GB to 3GB.
So, if we go through all of these rumors we’re left with a hell of a lot more questions than answers. What the final specs of the R9 390X, 380X and even the 370X will be is a mystery. There’s also rumors and speculation that the R9 380X will really be the card that’s aiming to take on the GTX 980 / high end cards – and the 390X will in fact be dual cards (a single card crossfire).
The only thing we know for sure – let’s hope that the cards actually beat Nvidia’s offerings in the price and performance ratio. It’ll be great for the PC market to have both companies putting out excellent and competitive products. AMD took a lot of flack early in the life of the R9 290X because of the heat issues – which is why it’s supposedly using the hybrid cooling solution. But whether this design will end up in all of the retail units remains a mystery. Perhaps it’ll be a premium feature of some cards, or the higher clocked variants.
Finally, while the 300 series is known as “Pirate Islands” for its codename, it’s popped up that Arctic Islands is a ‘thing’ for the 400 series. Before anyone panics, the earliest we’re likely to see the Arctic Island GPU’s is at some point in 2016, and possibly slipping until some point in 2017. With any luck, this’ll be with either a 16 or 14nm process to boot.