AMD Announces Polaris-Based Radeon Pro WX Series For Workstation Market, Launches ProRender

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AMD made quite an impact in the mainstream graphics card market with its Polaris-based Radeon RX 480 GPU. Based on AMD’s fourth generation Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture, the RX 480 features 36 compute units, 2304 stream processors and has a base clock of 1120 MHz. Peak compute performance is rated at 5.8 TFLOPs, and the RX 480 is available in 4GB or 8GB memory configurations.

While the RX 480 may be good enough for gamers looking to get their fix with a few rounds of DOOM or Rise of the Tomb Raider, graphics professionals are a more discerning group that wants hardware with drivers certified for use in their tools of the trade: CAD and 3D modeling apps (rather than epic 3DMark benchmark runs). With that in mind, AMD has announced three new professional graphics cards that comprise the new Polaris-based Radeon Pro WX Series.

Radeon Pro WX 7100
Radeon Pro WX 7100

The Radeon Pro WX 4100 is the entry-level model with a half-height design for use in small form-factor workstations. The Radeon Pro WX 5100 is the unruly middle child, while the Radeon Pro WX 7100 is the overachieving range-topping model, which AMD says is capable of handling the most demanding design engineering and entertainment workflows — and of course, VR content creation.

Radeon Pro WX 5100
Radeon Pro WX 5100

Although AMD is being mum about clock speeds at this point, this is what we do know about the cards at this time:

  • Radeon Pro WX 7100: 32 compute units / > 5 TFLOPs / 8GB memory / 256-bit memory bus
  • Radeon Pro WX 5100: 28 compute units / > 4 TFLOPs / 8GB memory / 256-bit memory bus
  • Radeon Pro WX 4100: 16 compute units / > 2 TFLOPs / 4GB memory / 128-bit memory bus

The Radeon Pro WX 4100 has four mini DisplayPort connectors on the back, while the Radeon Pro WX 5100 and 7100 each have four full-size DisplayPort connectors. You’ll also find modest and trim cooling solutions for all three cards.

Radeon Pro WX 4100
Radeon Pro WX 4100

However, none of these cards will be giving the NVIDIA Quadro P6000 or even the P5000 a run for their money in terms of performance; but they don’t have to. Those two Quadro cards will no doubt costs thousands of dollars, while the Radeon Pro WX 7100 will eek in at just under $1,000 (likely with a price tag of $999). The Radeon Pro WX 5100 and 4100 will slot in somewhat below that mark.

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Given that these aren’t your garden variety Radeon cards, but pro graphics solutions that will be installed in mission-critical systems, each comes backed with a 10-year limited warranty. They're built by AMD exclusively, so you'll get the cream of the crop when it comes to chips used and design quality, along with 24/7 VIP customer support (AMD says that you’ll speak to a live representative within 5 minutes of dialing in).

Going forward, AMD will consolidate its graphics product lines, eventually discontinuing its existing FirePro range (the company still promises legacy product support, of course). In its place will be the Radeon Pro WX Series cards to serve the professional market for AMD.

In addition to announcing the Radeon Pro WX Series, AMD made a few additional disclosures as well. The company revealed an innovative new architecture that links large amounts of solid state storage to the GPU to better handle massive data sets, dubbed AMD Radeon Solid State Graphics Technology, and it also formally launched its ProRender physically-based rendering engine.

Radeon ProRender, which was formerly previewed as AMD FireRender, will also be made open-source as part of AMD’s GPUOpen initiative. What make Radeon ProRender somewhat unique is that it can simultaneously leverage and balance all of the compute resources from multiple GPUs and CPUs in a system simultaneously, to deliver high performance. Radeon ProRender plugins are available today for many popular 3D content creation applications, including Autodesk 3ds Max and SOLIDWORKS, and an Autodesk Maya plugin is coming soon as well. Radeon ProRender also works across Windows, OS X and Linux, and supports GPUs, CPUs and APUs from AMD, as well as others like Intel and NVIDIA.