AMD Radeon Pro 400 Series Polaris 11 GPUs Power Apple’s New 15-inch MacBook Pro

AMD Radeon Pro 400 Series Polaris

AMD chose to partner up with Apple on the launch of its power-efficient Radeon Pro 400 Series GPUs, which came shortly after the unveiling of new MacBook Pro laptops. It is the 15-inch MacBook Pro that has Polaris inside (Radeon Pro 450 or 455, depending on the model), a point AMD drives home multiple times in its press release the new Polaris parts.

"We couldn’t be more proud to have Radeon Pro 400 Series Graphics launching in the new 15-inch MacBook Pro, a notebook designed for performance and creativity," said Raja Koduri, senior vice president and chief architect, Radeon Technologies Group, AMD. "Today there are millions of professional creators and designers, and a billion more who aspire to reach the next level. Radeon Pro 400 Series Graphics are a powerful and versatile creative technology that gives makers entirely new ways to create the art of the impossible no matter where they are."

AMD Radeon Pro 400 Die

Just like the desktop version of Polaris, the Radeon Pro 400 Series is built on a 14nm FinFET manufacturing process with a thermal envelope of less than 35W. The chips also benefit from a process called die thinning to reduce the thickness of each wafer of silicon used in the GPUs from 780 microns to 380 microns, or 0.38 millimeters. That's slightly thinner than four pieces of paper stacked together.

Part of AMD's collaboration with Apple and the new 15-inch MacBook Pro is that these initial Radeon Pro 400 Series GPUs aren't really gaming chips, save for the top-end option. AMD isn't pitching them as such, choosing instead to focus on a new "Meet the Creators" program that highlights designers, filmmakers, and other professionals in a variety of fields who might benefit from these product launches.

"Right now millions of professional creators are engaged in the art of the impossible. They are the photographers, filmmakers, artists, visualizers, and engineers creating the content we love. They go to extraordinary lengths to put smiles on our faces; to change the world. And we go to extraordinary lengths to enable and inspire them," AMD states in a blog post that goes on to tout the benefits of the 15-inch MacBook Pro.

There are three GPUs comprising the Radeon Pro 400 family, all three offering 80GB/s of memory bandwidth. Where they differ is in the number of compute units/stream processors and peak performance—the Radeon Pro 450 has 10 compute units (640 stream processors) and delivers 1 teraflop peak performance; Radeon Pro 455 has 12 compute units (768 stream processors) and delivers 1.3 teraflops; and the Radeon Pro 460 has 16 compute units (1,024 stream processors) and delivers 1.86 teraflops.

If you're wanting Polaris in mobile form, the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Radeon Pro graphics starts at $2,399 for a setup that includes an Intel Core i7 processor clocked at 2.6GHz, 16GB of DDR4-2133 memory, 256GB PCIe-based SSD, and Radeon Pro 450 graphics with 2GB of onboard memory. For a $200 up-charge, you can upgrade to a Radeon Pro 460 GPU. There's also a $2,799 configuration that pairs the Radeon Pro 455 with a Core i7 processor clocked at 2.7GHz, same amount of RAM, and a 512GB PCIe-based SSD.