All information about the AMD RX Vega graphics chip

Update: The Vega II, the successor to the Radeon RX Vega, has been on the market since February 7, 2019. The Radeon VII named by AMD should offer models for gamers as well as for professional purposes in modern 7 nm production. According to their own statements, the new graphics chip should achieve up to 42% more performance than its predecessor, even though the clock is only 13% higher.

Especially with the memory bandwidth of more than 1 TB/s, the Vega II is more than twice as fast as the RX Vega 64 or even Geforce RTX 2080 from Nvidia. Further information on the new Vega generation can be found below.

Compared to Nvidia, the basic architecture of the graphics chips at AMD has hardly changed since 2011. In particular, energy efficiency received little attention, since the architecture would have to be changed here. AMD now wants to make up for all of this with Vega. Overall, the Californian company speaks of more than 200 new features.

On the occasion of CES 2017, AMD presented the long-awaited Vega graphics chip, which they say they have been working on for five years. With new techniques such as HBM2, new shader units and finer production, AMD wants to get back into the high-end consumer business and compete with Nvidia.

Even if you only presented a prototype system in Las Vegas, you can already derive some information from it. AMD showed the game Doom on the Ryzen system with a remarkable performance.

On July 30th, the first three graphics card models for gamers of the new Vega generation were presented at the Siggraph. These are the Radeon RX Vega 56, which is intended to compete with the Nvidia Geforce GTX 1070, and the RX Vega 64 with an air cooler and one with a water cooler, which is intended to compete against the GTX 1080. These have been in stores since August 14th.

AMD has put the first pictures and information about the Vega series online on its own website.

What is AMD RX Vega?

Vega is the code name for the upcoming graphics chip generation from AMD, which will now replace the Radeon Fury with many revisions and innovations. More precisely, the first release will probably be called Vega 10, but a smaller version called Vega 11 is also to be presented this year.

The graphics chip should be surprisingly generous. AMD itself announces that the chipset will have an area of more than 500 mm². For comparison: Nvidia works with the Titan X with 471 mm² and with the GTX 1080 with 314 mm² chips.

When it comes to memory, AMD relies on the innovative HBM memory, which was already used in the Fury models. However, the new generation, HBM2, should be able to do a lot more and be faster. Initially, AMD had not given any more detailed information about the production.

The company is now announcing that the Vega chips, like the current RX 500 series, are to be manufactured using an improved 14 nm process.
AMD has also improved the geometry throughput of the Vega chip. Compared to the Polaris chip (RX 480), the throughput is said to have been more than doubled. More detailed technical information about Vega can be found in this article from Computerbase.

Radeon VII

The new generation is called Radeon VII. On the one hand, there is the Roman 7 in the name, which probably stands for 7 nm production, and on the other hand it is an abbreviation for Vega II. Thanks to the much finer production, the area of the graphics chip could be reduced from 495 mm² to 331 mm², but increase the number of built-in transistors from 12.5 billion to 13.2 billion.

What does Vega II offer?

Compared to the first Vega generation, the new chip works with 60 instead of 64 compute units and with 3840 instead of 4096 shader units. The clock is given as up to 1800 MHz, which is almost 200 MHz faster than the predecessor. So the performance gain is largely due to the new architecture. In three comparisons with the RX Vega 64, AMD has shown that the Vega II is 25% faster in Fortnite, 35% faster in Battlefield V and even up to 42% faster in Strange Brigade.

The Radeon VII is equipped with four HBM2 stacks operating at 1000MHz and offering a whopping 1TB/s of memory bandwidth, which is roughly twice as fast as the RX Vega 64 or RTX 2080. It is also the first consumer graphics card that has 16GB of memory.

There should also be significant improvements in power consumption. Compared to its predecessor, AMD promises 25% more computing power with the same power consumption. Two eight-pin power plugs are also provided for the Vega II for the power supply.

What models of AMD Vega and Vega II are there?

how promise AMD has also released the first models of the Vega generation for gamers at the Siggraph. Accordingly, three models will be available in August – the RX Vega 56, 64 and a water-cooled version of the Vega 64 with a significantly higher clock.

AMD provides information about the RX, Pro and Instict models on the official Radeon Vega website. While the RX models are for gaming, the Pro will be intended for professional use in workstations.

How fast is AMD Radeon RX Vega?

According to the official tests, the Radeon RX Vega 64 Liquid is equivalent to a GTX 1080 from Nvidia. Depending on the game, Nvidia’s new flagship is sometimes ahead of and sometimes behind the Nvidia competition. Just behind is the Radeon RX Vega 64 with air cooling.

However, the high temperature and volume development, as well as the enormous power consumption, are disappointing. Two 8-pin connectors are available for the power supply, which required up to 300W under load in the tests. Technically, Vega has a lot in common with Fiji.

However, the decisive factor will be the new manufacturing process using the 14 nm process, which should significantly increase efficiency. This has happened, but not to the extent expected.

It looks much better with the AMD Radeon RX Vega 56, which approves just over 200W from the power grid. This model is already on par with the Nvidia Geforce GTX 1070 in the reference design and indicates significantly more room for improvement compared to the flagship. So you can assume that the partner models with factory overclocking will be between a GTX 1070 and 1080 in terms of performance.

AMD Radeon Vega II benchmark

In the first official tests, the new Vega II graphics card reached the level of an Nvdia GTX 1080 Ti and missed the self-imposed goal of catching up with a Geforce RTX 2080. Even in higher resolutions such as UHD, the Vega II cannot exploit its advantages in memory size and bandwidth.

In some games it is only on par with an RTX 2070, but in very few also with an RTX 2080.

All in all, the new Vega II unfortunately does not present itself as AMD wanted. While the temperatures are still within limits, the reference design’s volume is not convincing at all. The same applies to the power consumption.

Here the Vega II even has to line up behind a significantly stronger RTX 2080 Ti. Although AMD has beaten the predecessor RX Vega 64 in every respect, the new generation cannot shake Nvidia’s dominance either.

How much does a graphics card with AMD Vega cost?

The game graphics cards of the Vega generations were originally supposed to start selling for $399, but around €500 in Europe. This applied to the somewhat slimmed-down Radeon RX Vega 56. The RX Vega 64 started at 650 euros in the normal version.

The RX Vega 64 Liquid costs a whopping 779 euros. In the meantime, after the mining boom and the fact that the Vega graphics cards are currently the best mining cards, there are still a few models available.

In addition, this boom caused a massive price increase, which is why the RX Vega 56 was currently only available from just under 800 euros, the RX Vega 64 from 900 euros. Fortunately, this is now over and the cards are even available below the intended RRPs.

The AMD Radeon Vega Frontier with Vega chip, which is specially designed for professional use, can be found in stores from 1200 euros. There are currently two versions on the market, one with an air cooler and one with a water cooler.

AMD Radeon Vega II purchase price

The new Radeon VII graphics cards start at around €750. A proud price in view of the Nvidia competition. Because the RTX 2080 is a faster and cheaper product from Nvidia for less than €700.

What is HBM2?

HBM stands for High-Bandwidth Memory and is used in the second generation of AMD Vega. As with the first generation, graphics memory is no longer soldered to the circuit board, but is already located directly in the graphics chip, which results in a significantly faster connection and allows for a more compact layout. The storage interface at deThe Vega graphics card in the prototype system presented should be 2048 bits.

To achieve this, two HBM2 stacks (stacks) of 1024 bits each are combined. Vega 10 can access a memory bandwidth of up to 512 GB/s, which would be just as fast as the previous models of the Fury X series, but with more possible total memory.

The space saving has increased by a further 50 percent thanks to the HBM2, which again enables very compact circuit boards. The energy efficiency that AMD often criticizes so much is said to be five times better with HBM2 than with conventional GDDR5 memory.

The hardware Scot says:

With the Radeon VII, AMD set itself the goal of achieving RTX 2080 performance. But judging by the first tests, unfortunately this could not be achieved. At least in the reference design, the new graphics cards are pretty loud and power-hungry and don’t quite reach the performance level of an RTX 2080.

So it remains to be seen what will happen in terms of price and what the models with custom coolers will deliver. Because with the starting purchase price of €750, the Vega II cards are more expensive than the RTX 2080 competition.
Do you have any other questions about AMD Vega? Then write a comment.

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