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The AMD Radeon VII is the world’s first 7nm graphics card

Thomas McMullan
10 Jan 2019
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AMD springs a surprise with the release of the world’s first 7nm GPU: the Radion VII

Most of the big announcements at CES have come and gone but a late-in-the-game surprise came in the shape of AMD’s new gaming silicon: the world’s first 7nm gaming GPU.

AMD CEO Lisa Su used the company’s keynote to reveal the Radeon VII, which is the “next generation of high-performance gaming GPUs” according to the company. It’s built on the second-generation AMD Vega architecture, has 60 compute units and runs at a base clock speed of 1.8 GHz.

Compared with AMD’s current Radeon RX Vega 64, the new card halves the size of its die process from 14nm to 7nm. Why is that important? Because the smaller the process the smaller the transistors, the less energy they consume and the more you can fit on a processor core. In the nutshell, it means performance should be better, while decreasing power consumption and operating temperatures.

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“Should” is a key word here, given how complex computer architecture can be, and how performance hinges on the software the system operates on. Su backed this up saying the Radeon VII delivers 35% better performance in Battlefield V playing at 4K over the RX Vega 64. Fortnite, meanwhile, had a 25% boost in performance, while non-gaming software like Photoshop and Blender apparently runs 30% faster.

Memory has also been given an boosty with double the amount of HBM2 RAM at 16GB, double the bus width at 4,096-bit, and a huge 1TB of memory bandwidth.

The GPU is a challenge to Nvidia, in particular the range-topping RTX 2080. The AMD card doesn’t have anything equivalent to Nvidia’s ‘ray tracing’ capabilities, which calculate the colour of pixels by gauging the path of light in virtual scenes (essentially delivering better-looking lighting and shadows) but its die process is smaller than the 12nm in Nvidia’s RTX 2-series, giving it a significant advantage in logic density.

The Radeon VII will cost $699 (around £548) when it launches on 7 February. That price will also get you a copy of Devil May Cry 5, Resident Evil 2, and The Division 2, so you’ll have some games to put it through its paces.

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