One of the pleasant surprises at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) last week was AMD's unveiling of its Radeon VII graphics card. Based on a refresh of its Vega GPU architecture, it is the first consumer graphics card for gaming to feature silicon that is built from a 7-nanometer manufacturing process, though it definitely will not be the last.
Bear in mind that we are talking about consumer cards for gaming, and not graphics cards in general. AMD actually has another 7nm GPU product, the Radeon Instinct MI60, which it launched last November. That was the first implementation of a 7nm GPU, but it's a professional accelerator for high performance computing (HPC) and deep learning applications.
In contrast, the Radeon VII is very much a gaming card. It has 3,840 stream processors and 60 compute units, and can clock up to 1.8GHz. It also features a whopping 16GB of HBM2 memory with 1TB/s of memory bandwidth. AMD claims a 1.8X bump in gaming performance per area compared to the previous generation Radeon Vega 64, if breaking down the architecture by die size. Looking ahead, AMD CTO Mark Papermaster told The Street that more 7nm GPUs are headed to the consumer market, including less expensive ones.
"What we do over the course of the year is what we do every year. We'll round out the whole roadmap," Papermaster said in regards to AMD's 2019 GPU lineup. "We're really excited to start on the high-end....you'll see the announcements over the course of the year as we round out our Radeon roadmap."
We haven't had a chance to properly benchmark the Radeon VII, so the only figures we have to go on are AMD's own numbers. According to AMD, the Radeon VII performs equally as well as NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 2080 in rasterized games, and is even faster in some instances, particularly Vulkan-based workloads.
That doesn't take into account real-time ray tracing performance over DLSS, both of which are advantages the GeForce RTX 2080 has over the Radeon VII (as NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang is quick to point out). As such, AMD may have a tough time selling the Radeon VII at its proposed $699 price point. It's too early to tell.
Either way, cheaper 7nm GPUs are coming as AMD fleshes out its product stack. What Papermaster didn't clarify, though, is whether those upcoming GPU products will be more 7nm Vega parts, or if the company's Navi architecture will round things out.