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AMD unveils R9 290X GPU

R9 290X GPU

Super-fast high-end card has on-board audio processing chip for fancy effects

AMD has taken the wraps off its new Radeon R9 290X “Hawaii” graphics card. This is by all accounts a monster, with 4GB memory running at 300GB/s and a 512-bit memory interface.

AMD threw some other information around, such as its ability to handle 4 billion triangles a second, and the fact it’s designed for 4K gaming. There have been some leaked specs, too; we’ve heard tell of 2,816 stream processors, compared to 2,048 for the previous-generation Radeon HD 7970 and the Nvidia GTX Titan’s 2,688 CUDA cores.

All those cores should run at 900MHz, compared to 925MHz for the HD 7970 and 836MHz for the Titan, so if these leaks are accurate we’re expecting some pretty juicy performance. There’s no pricing information as yet, but if AMD’s past form is anything to go by it will undercut the competition from Nvidia.


AMD’s new cards will also have a built-in audio DSP – called AMD TrueAudio. Game plugins from third-party developers will be able to access this DSP chip to give you some fancy effects, while taking the load off the CPU.

We heard from two companies whose technologies will work with the TrueAudio DSP. One was GenAudio, with its AstoundSound tech. Among other things, this promises a true surround sound experience, including perceived elevation and depth, from a pair of stereo headphones.

The second was Audiokinetic, with its Convolution Reverb effect. This creates reverb based on sound maps of actual buildings, such as a church. However, the effect takes up an increasing amount of CPU power the larger the simulated space – a problem that can be mitigated by using the DSP on the new Radeon card. Convolution Reverb will be used in the upcoming reboot of the classic Thief title.


The combination of a potentially great-value powerful high-end Radeon card and the promise of some fancy audio effects is certainly exciting, as is AMD’s new Mantle API, which bypasses DirectX 11 and promises to improve performance significantly in supported upcoming titles such as Battlefield 4. Look out for a full review soon.

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