AMD’s early CES 2019 keynote was mostly a rehash of other points the company has addressed already at the event, including its new 12nm Ryzen Mobile parts and the company’s general collaboration with Microsoft and others in the gaming and creative industries. The company’s first major new announcement is the Radeon VII — a new graphics card based on the same Vega GPU cores that were already ported to a new node.
This is a bit of surprising move from AMD, given that the company had previously kept a tight lid on the idea that a 7nm Vega refresh would actually ship and compete in the consumer market. Virtually nothing about the card’s performance was revealed at CES, however. We know that the card will feature 16GB of HBM memory and 1TB/s of memory bandwidth, with an estimated 25 percent performance uplift at the same power level.
AMD’s demo shots show the card compared against the RTX 2080, suggesting that AMD will continue to target the upper part of the market without offering competition against the RTX 2080 Ti.
One major question for the new card is whether AMD will be able to do anything about Nvidia’s GPU price increases and overall competitive position. Vega 64 was generally competitive with the Pascal GTX 1070 Ti / GTX 1080, but typically lagged the 1080 by a few percent. The recent launch of the RTX 2060 demonstrated that Nvidia’s Turing architecture can hit Vega 64 where it hurts, with that $350 GPU delivering 95 percent of Vega 64 performance. This necessitates an adjustment to AMD’s product stacks and it now appears that the new performance kick may come from these new Radeon VII cards rather than solely from Vega price cuts.
The Radeon VII will go on sale for $699 on February 7. Apparently, only one SKU is planned initially. With price parity against the RTX 2080, AMD is clearly angling to challenge that chip, but we won’t know how effective that challenge will be until we have hardware in-house.
It’s not clear if we’ll see any downstream Radeon VII products. We’d expect to see a product waterfall, but right now there’s a substantial gap between the price on Vega 64 ($400) and the expected introduction price of Radeon VII ($699). This implies a secondary GPU or two should drop at some point, but there’s no information on that yet.
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