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AMD Releases Fix for Radeon RX 480 GPU Power Issues

An update to Radeon Software Crimson Edition alleviates power consumption problems in AMD's new graphics card that is aimed at gaming and VR uses.

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Advanced Micro Devices engineers have issued a fix for the power issues that have dogged the company's new Radeon RX 480 GPU for about a week.

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

AMD officials over the July 4 holiday weekend said in a statement that they were addressing the issues, adding that they recently had "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."

The company on July 7 issued the fix via the release of Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.7.1. According to AMD engineers, the software update improves the power distribution in the graphics card for AMD reference boards by lowering the current draw from the PCIe bus. In addition, the company installed a new "compatibility mode" toggle in the user interface found in the Global Settings menu of Radeon Settings.

"This option is designed to reduce total power with minimal performance impact if end users experience any further issues," they said in a statement. "This toggle is 'off' by default."

Engineers also said that optimizations made in the company's Polaris GPU architecture will improve the RX 480's performance and should offset the performance impact for users who choose to activate the compatibility toggle.

AMD has previewed the RX 480 GPU earlier this year, and officially released it last week. The combination of high performance and low cost—about $200—will help bring virtual reality (VR) and high-end gaming capabilities to a broader market, officials said. Earlier in June, company officials unveiled the entire line of Radeon RX GPUs, all of which are built on the company's new Polaris architecture.

AMD and Nvidia are competing fiercely in the GPU space. Nvidia on July 7 introduced the GeForce GTX 1060, which officials said also is priced to bring high performance in gaming and VR to a wider audience. It starts at $249 and helps Nvidia fill out its portfolio of Pascal GPUs aimed at gaming and VR, which includes GTX 1080 and 1070.