Mere hours ahead of AMD’s big Computex livestream promising “Polaris GPU updates,” at least some of the company's big news has trickled out prematurely.
While Nvidia kicked off the new graphics card generation with the overwhelming firepower of the enthusiast-only $600 GeForce GTX 1080 and $380 GTX 1070, AMD’s attacking the mainstream instead. The first Radeon graphics cards based on its forthcoming Polaris graphics processors will start at just $200, the company told the Wall Street Journal, and be available by the end of June—potentially June 29, a non-disclosure date leaked by attendees of AMD’s recent Polaris Tech Day in Macau.
AMD says its new Polaris-based graphics cards will deliver performance equivalent to $500 graphics cards from today’s generation. That’s roughly in line with the Radeon R9 390X, GeForce GTX 980, or air-cooled Radeon Fury. Assuming that proves accurate, the massive performance leap stems from the adoption of 14nm FinFET technology in Polaris, a leap forward by two full technological generations for graphics processors. Both AMD and Nvidia (which uses 16nm FinFET tech in its new Pascal GPUs) were previously stuck on the 28nm node since late 2011, after 20nm technology proved to be a bust for graphics cards.
Dragging previously high-end performance down to an affordable $200 price point will let AMD dominate for the crucial mainstream graphics market until Nvidia releases a GTX 1060. It will also expand the total overall market for virtual reality—a key new battleground for computing. AMD’s been beating the drum loudlywith its LiquidVR development kit initiative and the Radeon Pro Duo, a dual-GPU beast of a graphics card devoted to VR game development.
An AMD employee accidentally leaked a photo of a system running on a Radeon RX 480 this weekend. Traditionally, the x80 line of Radeons come priced around $200 to $250, so that very well may be the new Radeon graphics card poised to be officially revealed sooner than later... maybe even during AMD’s Computex livestream this evening.