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Confirmed: AMD's next-gen Radeon graphics will use high-bandwidth memory

Brad Chacos | May 8, 2015
The rumors were true, gamers. AMD teased more details about its next-gen Radeon graphics processors at its financial analyst day on Wednesday. As long suspected, at least some of the upcoming graphics cards will be the first to feature high-bandwidth memory (HBM), the supercharged successor to the GDDR5 memory used in today's graphics cards.

The rumors were true, gamers. AMD teased more details about its next-gen Radeon graphics processors at its financial analyst day on Wednesday. As long suspected, at least some of the upcoming graphics cards will be the first to feature high-bandwidth memory (HBM), the supercharged successor to the GDDR5 memory used in today's graphics cards.

"We've been working on HBM, frankly, for 7 years," said AMD CTO Mark Papermaster.

HBM stacks memory chips atop each other to improve speed and density, relying on through-silicon via to pass wires through the middle of the chips. Papermaster says HBM offers a three-fold improvement in performance per watt compared to GDDR5, and a 50-percent increase in power savings. Paired with the new color compression technology that originally debuted in the Radeon R9 285, which uses AMD's new(est) Tonga GPU, the increase in available memory bandwidth in these new GPUs could be impressive indeed.

The power and bandwidth improvements aren't the only positives achieved by migrating to HBM, explained AMD CEO Lisa Su. "With memory now on-die rather than on-card, it enables a lot of really interesting form factors," she said, promising that some of those interesting form factors will be revealed in the near future.

Future AMD graphic processors will reduce power draw even further. The company's 2016 GPUs will utilize FinFET transistor technology to allegedly double their energy efficiency.

That's all nothing but a good thing. The high-end Radeon R9 200-series graphics cards currently available suck down far more power and spit out much more heat than GeForce cards based on Nvidia's Maxwell architecture. (Nvidia is also expected to adopt HBM in 2016 with its Pascal GPUs.)

Further reading: Tested: Nvidia GeForce and AMD Radeon graphics cards for every budget

Su declined to name the next-gen Radeon GPU that utilizes HBM, saying that "We are going to introduce a full-up [desktop graphics card] lineup later this quarter."

The story behind the story : Numerous (and very unconfirmed) leaks and rumors have named AMD's next flagship as the Radeon R9 390X, however, powered by a new GCN "Fiji" core. The rumors suggest it could up have up to 4,096 stream processors, a 1050MHz boosted core clock, up to 8GB of HBM memory, and maybe even a variant sporting integrated water-cooling like the beastly dual-GPU Radeon R9 295x2.

Su and Papermaster spent their presentations playing up the need for MORE POWER in the face of DirectX12 and the rise of 4K displays and VR technology — both of which require much more graphical firepower than existing display technology — so rumblings about the rumored R9 390X being a graphical behemoth feel correct in my gut.

 

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