AMD Announces Radeon Vega Frontier Edition

AMD announced Radeon Vega earlier this year and followed up with news of its Vega Frontier Edition at its 2017 Financial Analyst Day. AMD claims the Frontier Edition is the "world's first" GPU geared for AI (Artificial Intelligence), creatives, and science pioneers.

Nvidia just announced its new Tesla V100 based on the Volta architecture, so it's not surprising that AMD is firing back with details of its new Frontier Edition. Vega marks AMD's re-entrance into the high-performance desktop GPU arena, but it also serves as a platform for penetrating into the data center market.

GPUs offer tremendous advantages over most other forms of compute for machine learning training workloads, and the high-margin data center segment offers a rapidly expanding market with lucrative profit margins. The Frontier Edition sports 64 Next-Generation Compute Units, which AMD has bestowed with the "nCU" moniker due to support new data types, that feature 4,096 stream processors. AMD has optimized the nCUs for higher clocks and has also integrated larger instruction buffers to feed them.

AMD provided estimated performance specifications of 12.5 TFLOPS in peak FP32 single precision compute and 25 TFLOPS of peak FP16 compute. The card features 16GB of HBC (High Bandwidth Cache), which is AMD's new term for HBM (High Bandwidth Memory). The new card also features support for 8K displays, and it can access up to 256TB of virtual memory. This voluminous capacity is useful for crunching, video processing, and deep learning algorithms. AMD noted that the gold shroud is hand-made for each GPU, and there are both liquid- and air-cooled models available.

AMD isn't providing a lot of new information outside of the previously-announced Vega highlights (EDIT - AMD shared some basic performance data on its blog), but the company did provide a rough overview of the new Frontier Edition:

  • Machine learning. Together with AMD’s ROCm open software platform, Radeon Vega Frontier Edition enables developers to tap into the power of Vega for machine learning algorithm development. Frontier Edition delivers more than 50 percent more performance than today’s most powerful machine learning GPUs.
  • Advanced visualization. Radon Vega Frontier Edition provides the performance required to drive increasingly large and complex models for real-time visualization, physically-based rendering and virtual reality through the design phase as well as rendering phase of product development.
  • VR workloads. Radeon Vega Frontier Edition is ideal for VR content creation supporting AMD’s LiquidVR technology to deliver the gripping content, advanced visual comfort and compatibility needed for next-generation VR experiences.
  • Revolutionized game design workflows. Radeon Vega Frontier Edition simplifies and accelerates game creation by providing a single GPU optimized for every stage of a game developer’s workflow, from asset production to playtesting and performance optimization.

The Vega Frontier Edition is slated for release in June 2017, but the company has not provided any pricing information.