AMD's new Polaris-based Radeon Pro Duo is slower than its predecessor

AMD's Radeon Pro Duo has two Polaris GPUs and will be available by the end of May for $999

AMD's new Radeon Pro Duo graphics packs two of the company's fastest GPUs, but surprisingly, is slower than its 2016 predecessor.

The Pro Duo, announced on Monday, is based on the Polaris architecture. It provides 11.45 teraflops of single-precision performance, which is a downgrade from the 16 teraflops of performance offered by last year's Pro Duo, based on the Fiji architecture.

Performance usually goes up with each new GPU generation, but AMD opted to lower the power draw and the number of processing cores in the Pro Duo; as result, the product generates less heat. The Pro Duo draws 250 watts of power, compared to 350 watts by its predecessor.

The launch price of the Pro Duo is also $500 less than its predecessor. The new graphics card will start at $999 and ship worldwide by the end of May. AMD has been trying to push more affordable GPUs to consumers and professionals.

AMD did not respond to a request for comment on why it cut the performance in Pro Duo relative to its predecessor. The graphics card is targeted at creative professionals and engineers, many of whom look for a bump in performance from new GPUs.

AMD instead is positioning the new GPU as a faster version of its single-GPU Radeon Pro WX 7100. The Pro Duo basically has two WX 7100 graphics chips, which makes it two times faster.

The new graphics card will compete with Nvidia's recently released Titan Xp and Quadro GPUs.

The Pro Duo allows graphics designers to work with 8K content. An 8K monitor -- right now there is only one on the market, sold by Dell -- can be attached using a single DisplayPort 1.4 cable, but only at 30Hz, which means image refresh will be relatively slow.  It can also connect to the 8K display using two cables, which will double the refresh rate to 60Hz.

The graphics card also will support four 4K monitors at a refresh rate of 60Hz. When connected to fewer monitors, it can achieve higher refresh rates.

The GPU can also be used to create VR content. AMD has its own set of LiquidVR technologies to create VR content that would work best with its GPUs. For example, used with LiquidVR, some of the new AMD GPUs based on Polaris can reduce resolution of images in a VR headset screen when a user isn't looking at them.

The Pro Duo was announced at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show in Las Vegas, where the company is also showing "next-generation" Radeon professional GPUs. An AMD spokesman declined to comment on whether the next-generation GPU was Vega, or an incremental Polaris upgrade code-named Baffin. The Pro Duo is based on the first version of Polaris code-named Ellesmere.

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