AMD Launches Radeon GPUs with High-Bandwidth Memory

The R9 Fury series of graphics cards are part of a larger AMD product roadmap to bring the chip maker back to sustainable profitability.

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Advanced Micro Devices unveiled the company's latest Radeon graphics cards that are the first to incorporate the chip maker's new High-Bandwidth Memory technology.

The new Radeons, led by the R9 Fury series, were introduced June 16 at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles. Officials touted the high-end gaming performance of the GPUs, which also mark a step forward in the larger roadmap toward sustained profitability that AMD laid out just more than a month ago.

CEO Lisa Su and other top executives, meeting with financial analysts and journalists in New York City, said that gaming, immersive computing and the data center infrastructure are the cornerstones of their recovery plan, taking advantage of AMD's expertise in such areas as high-performance CPUs and GPUs, visualization and power efficiency.

Su and Mark Papermaster, CTO and senior vice president of technology and engineering, pointed to the High-Bandwidth Memory (HBM) as a key technology that first will appear in discrete GPUs before appearing in other products down the road.

HBM, which the company has been developing as part of a consortium for several years, essentially stacks memory chips for greater performance, power efficiency and density. The new memory technology provides 60 percent more bandwidth than GDDR5, and a 4096-bit memory interface, according to the company. With HBM, the R9 Fury delivers more than three times the performance-per-watt of GDDR5 while taking up 94 percent less surface area on the printed-circuit board (PCB). The result is performance for ultra-enthusiasts in a 7.5-inch board, the company said.

The Radeons means that AMD is "enabling a spectrum of innovation that can benefit all gamers," Matt Skynner, corporate vice president and general manager of products for AMD's Computing and Graphics Business Unit, said in a statement. "Exceptional performance, ground-breaking VR [virtual reality] capabilities, new and dynamic form factors, premium industrial design, exceptional experiences in 4K, all built to excel in today's games and tomorrow's that harness forthcoming APIs like DirectX 12 and Vulkan."

Along with the HBM technology, the R9 Fury GPUs—previously code named "Fiji"—brings an array of other features and capabilities, including liquid cooling, a customizable GPU Tach meter that measures GPU utilization and LED illumination to bring greater attention to the design details, AMD said. The R9 Fury X graphics card includes AMD's LiquidVR technology for enhanced virtual reality experiences. AMD's FreeSync technology enables smooth gaming, and the GPU's high-bandwidth memory interface is aimed at 4K gaming.

The R9 Fury X's compact design opens the door for new PC form factors that can be designed by everyone from system integrators to do-it-yourselfers. The R9 Fury X will be available June 24. The AMD Radeon R9 Fury family—with both liquid- and air-cooled models—will be available July 14. A smaller version, the 6-inch Radeon R9 Nano, is coming in the third quarter. Another Fury product that will provide smooth 4K gaming and virtual reality capabilities and that will be based on two Fiji GPUs will launch in the fall.

AMD also released two other cards, the R9 300 series and R9 700 series, both aimed at high-end gaming and virtual reality experiences. They will be available June 18.

The gaming industry has been good for AMD, which pushed back to profitability several times over the past year or so. The company's semi-custom chips were used in the latest Xbox and PlayStation gaming consoles from Microsoft and Sony, respectively. During the financial analysts’ meeting in May, Su and Papermaster noted that AMD's larger gaming efforts include not only consoles, but everything from casinos to PCs, and will leverage GPUs, CPUs, software, and semi-custom chips. Plans for AMD's Graphics Core Next architecture include high-performance capabilities with twice the power efficiency of current GPUs and a FinFET 3D transistor architecture, they said.