AMD’s Raja Koduri Tweet Storm Addresses Radeon RX Vega Pricing, Power Consumption And The Competition

Raja Koduri

Raja Koduri, head of AMD's Radeon Technologies Group, is back in the United States after spending two weeks in India, a combination of a vacation and visiting AMD's engineering sites in Hyderabad and Bangalore. While he was gone, there has been much chatter about AMD's recently launched Radeon RX Vega 64 and Radeon RX Vega 56 graphics card for gamers, including perceived price hikes and supply falling short of demand. If you are wondering what Koduri's take is on all that has transpired, you need only visiting his Twitter stream.

"I try to stay away from social media while traveling to be present where I am! Sometimes successfully. Looks like folks missed me too much," Koduri joked on Twitter, complete with a smiling emoticon.

Radeon RX Vega 64

It was the second of more than a dozen Twitter posts in response to all that he missed while he was gone. He jumped right into things by discussing the shortage, noting that AMD's supply teams are hard at work trying to increase availability. Koduri did not say what exactly the supply side is doing to ramp up production, though he did make a rather interesting observation that some of the critics seemed to have taken for granted.

"Every Vega we sell effectively adds a new user to our small base of enthusiasts gamers and it's in our best interest to enable a lot of them," Koduri said.

The difficulty there is that cryptocurrency miners are depleting inventories of popular cards, including the new Vega parts. It is frustrating for gamers, especially those who waited a long time specifically for Vega, and it surely does not help when AMD releases GPU drivers intended to help the mining community. While Koduri is sympathetic to that, he was careful not to choose a side.
Indeed, the rise in price of Ethereum, which is mined with graphics cards, and Bitcoin, which Ethereum miners often invest in after cashing in their Ether, has created an interesting landscape. It is nice to hear Koduri talk about the importance of getting cards in the hands of gamers, but until the supply catches up with demand, some may view it as empty rhetoric.

As to Vega's power consumption, Koduri had plenty to say on the matter.
Koduri's defense of Vega's power requirements is that users can choose between power efficiency or added performance. In an attempt to please everyone, Vega comes with three power modes, including a Power Save mode, a Balanced mode, and a Turbo mode. AMD is very keen on the dynamic range, and to that end Koduri has a point. What he sidesteps, however, is that at the end of the day Vega requires a lot of power to be competitive with NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 1080, which is now more than a year old.

Even so, Koduri is high on the architecture and feels it may be getting a bad rap. He points out that if doing a performance per mm2 comparison, reviewers and analyst need to account for Vega 10 features competing with three different competitive SoCs (GP100, GP102, and GP104).
The hoopla surrounding Vega's pricing is related to the shortage of cards. Initial inventories of standalone Radeon RX Vega 64 cards priced at $499 quickly sold out, and those listings were then weirdly removed from retailers' websites. Meanwhile, Radeon RX Vega 64 Black Pack bundles, which included two 'free' games, remain even though those are sold out as well. This led some to accuse AMD of hiking the price of Vega shortly after launch, though that is not the case.

At the time this was big news, we reached out to AMD and were told the following:
Radeon RX Vega 64 demand continues to exceed expectations. AMD is working closely with its partners to address this demand. Our initial launch quantities included standalone Radeon RX Vega 64 at SEP of $499, Radeon RX Vega 64 Black Packs at SEP of $599, and Radeon RX Vega 64 Aqua Packs at SEP of $699. We are working with our partners to restock all SKUs of Radeon RX Vega 64 including the standalone cards and Gamer Packs over the next few weeks, and you should expect quantities of Vega to start arriving in the coming days.
Koduri also addressed the rumor that AMD is losing $100 on every Vega card sold. While he did not come right out and say it, Koduri insinuated that the actual bill of materials for Vega is not what reports think they are.

So there you have it, a bit of clarification on Vega from the man himself. It's nice that Koduri took the time to explain some things on Twitter, though until AMD ramps up supply and is able to catch up with demand, none of this will mean a whole lot to gamers.