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AMD Engineers Fixing Power Draw Issues in Radeon RX 480 GPUs

The chip maker is responding to tests by multiple sites that show the new graphics card is drawing more power than it's rated for.

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Advanced Micro Devices engineers are addressing reports from several test sites that its new Radeon RX 480 graphics card, officially launched last week, is drawing more power than advertised.

In tests run by such sites as Tom's Hardware, TecLab and PC Perspective, it was found that the new GPU, which was rated as a 150-watt graphics card, was drawing an average of 168 watts under load, and that the RX 480 was pulling as much as 90 watts over its PCIe slot, more than the 75 watts maximum the slot is rated for. That could cause problems with some motherboards.

Power consumption is a key metric for GPUs and other PC and server components, and it's a point that AMD officials have been prompting as a key differentiator in the company's ongoing competition with Intel and Nvidia.

AMD over the holiday weekend responded to the reports, saying in a statement that engineers are working on the issues.

"As you know, we continuously tune our GPUs in order to maximize their performance within their given power envelopes and the speed of the memory interface, which in this case is an unprecedented 8Gbps for GDDR5," AMD officials said in the statement. "Recently, we identified select scenarios where the tuning of some RX 480 boards was not optimal. Fortunately, we can adjust the GPU's tuning via software in order to resolve this issue. We are already testing a driver that implements a fix, and we will provide an update to the community on our progress on Tuesday (July 5, 2016)."

GPUs are a key part of the larger effort by AMD officials to make the company more competitive in a number of growth areas, such as immersive computing and gaming. AMD earlier this year introduced its new Polaris GPU architecture, which includes graphics cards on a 14-nanomter 3D FinFET transistor design for improved performance and power efficiency and includes such features as High-Bandwidth Memory. Officials said the architecture will more than double the performance-per-watt of previous Radeon graphics technologies. The Radeon RX 480 card was the first of the Polaris-based GPUs.

The graphics cards will start at $199 for the 4GB chip and $239 for the 8GB card, and will support emerging virtual reality products. The new GPUs are getting support not only from system makers like Dell's Alienware business, HP Inc. and Lenovo, but also from game and VR software makers, including Bethesda, EA and Ubisoft and VR headset manufacturers Oculus and HTC.