AMD has announced what it claims to be the most powerful graphics card in the world. The Radeon Vega Frontier Edition is the first GPU born from its much-anticipated Vega architecture.
The Vega Frontier is a dual height board with 16GB HBM2 memory that is focused on professional users, rather than gamers. But it doesn’t belong to the same Radeon Pro WX family (previously FirePro) that is designed and certified for 3D CAD and other professional 3D applications.
Instead the Vega Frontier is a new GPU brand that is focused on three main workloads: 1) Artificial Intelligence (machine learning), 2) Professional visualisation and photorealistic rendering and 3) next generation games and creative development.
For readers of DEVELOP3D, all eyes will be on professional visualisation, which should mean three things – real time visualisation, GPU rendering and VR.
For single precision compute operations (including GPU rendering) the Vega Frontier is rated at 12.5 TFLOPs, which is only a touch more than the 11.45 TFLOPs on offer in AMD’s Radeon Pro Duo, that was announced last month.
In theory, in applications like AMD Radeon Pro Render and Chaos Group V-Ray RT, render times of the two GPUs should not be that far apart. So why has AMD introduced two similarly powerful pro-focused GPUs in such quick succession?
The Radeon Pro Duo, as the name suggests, is essentially two Radeon Pro WX 7100 GPUs bolted together, so applications need to be multi GPU aware to take advantage of the power on offer. While GPU rendering scales well across multiple GPUs, many game engines and VR engines do not. In such applications, the Vega Frontier should easily win out. It also has several architectural advantages including faster HBM2 memory and a faster geometry engine, which AMD says delivers much better real time performance when working with large 3D models.
But the Radeon Pro Duo does have advantages over the Radeon Vega Frontier. Coming from the Radeon Pro stable, it is designed, optimised and certified for 3D CAD – characteristics that the Radeon Vega Frontier Edition does not appear to have. This could mean better performance but also access to features, such as SolidWorks RealView and Ambient Occlusion.
UPDATE – 19/05/17
AMD’s Chris Hook confirmed to DEVELOP3D that the Radeon Vega Frontier Edition will not have a professional certified driver. However, he added that new certified Radeon Pro cards will be launching in the summer.
The Radeon Vega Frontier Edition is due to ship in late June. It will be available in two versions: air cooled (blue) and liquid cooled (gold). AMD has not disclosed pricing but has said its Vega strategy is to price for a 2x advantage in price / performance over Nvidia Pascal. AMD will unveil more Vega architecture-based products this summer, most likely at Siggraph, as is traditional.