AMDs new graphics architecture is called Polaris

AMD logoThe rumours were true: AMD's new graphics architecture is called Polaris (it previously went under the codename Arctic Islands), it's based on a 14nm FinFET process, and it'll ship in "mid-2016." Given that AMD's GPUsand indeed Nvidia'shave been stuck at the larger 28nm process node for several years, the move to 14nm should bring huge improvements in power consumption and performance per watt.

Details are thin on the groundAMD has promised to go into much greater detail at a later datebut for now the company has confirmed that Polaris is the fourth generation of its Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture. The current GCN architecture, GCN 1.2, is used by the likes of the Radeon R9 285 and R9 Fury. Improvements to the command processor, geometry processor, L2 cache, memory controller, multimedia cores, and display engine are promised in fourth-gen GCN, as well as to the all important compute units at the heart of the GPU.

AMDs new graphics architecture is called Polaris

Polaris will support hardware 4K h.265 encoding and decoding at 60 FPS, DisplayPort 1.3, and, at long last, HDMI 2.0a. The latter was missing from AMD's recent Fury and 300-series of GPUs, which instead featured HDMI 1.4a that limited 4K signals to 30 FPS at 60Hz, making them less than ideal for use in the living room with 4K TVs.

AMD Polaris

As for the all-important performance improvements, interestingly AMD is only offering up a performance comparison against a mid-range GTX 950 graphics card from Nvidia. It claims the Polaris-based card consumes 85W while driving Star Wars: Battlefront at 60 FPS on the medium preset, versus 140W on the Nvidia card. That AMD has chosen a mid-range card for comparisonalong with a claim that Polaris is ideal for small form factors and "console-calibre performance in a thin and light notebook"suggests that the architecture will launch in notebooks or lower-wattage parts first, before making the jump to high-end GPUs.

Nvidia employed a similar strategy with its Maxwell architecturewhich was also designed for low power consumption and portable deviceslaunching with the mid-range GTX 750 and 750 Ti. That AMD might launch with lower-wattage parts first isn't all that surprising given its latest flagship GPUsthe Fury and Fury Xonly launched towards the tail end of 2015.

Consumption AMD Polaris

Dimensions AMD Polaris

AMD has promised to reveal more about Polaris over the coming months, as well as drop more details at this year's CES, currently taking place in Las Vegas.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: AMD, videocards

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