While we all wait patiently (or not so patiently) to find out if Nvidia’s Turing cards like the GeForce RTX 2080 are worth the ray-tracing hype, AMD picked a lazy Sunday to officially launch its dual-Vega Radeon Pro V340 at VMworld in Las Vegas. Considering the venue, it shouldn’t be surprising that this card is aimed at high-density data center environments.
The V340 is based on AMD’s existing Vega architecture, and there’s no mention of a die shrink. So this card effectively takes two of the 14nm GPUs you’d typically find in a Vega 64 or Vega 56 and crams them into a single card with a dual-slot design, complete with an ample 32GB of second-generation Error Correcting Code (ECC) high-bandwidth memory (HBM).
If you’ve read reviews of the consumer Vega cards, or played around with a pair in Crossfire, you might balk at the potential heat issues and power requirements involved in putting a pair of these GPUs together on the same PCB. Keep in mind, though, that the Radeon Pro V340 is designed for very different workloads than consumer graphics, and AMD isn’t directly competing here with Nvidia’s more-efficient consumer 10-series parts. So clock speeds are likely tuned to balance power and performance in very different ways than consumer desktop Vega chips.
The Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) world that AMD’s new card is designed to drop into is about parallel performance, not fast-as-you-can frame rates. It’s aimed at accelerating CAD, design, and Desktop as a Service (DaaS) workloads, as well as rendering. AMD's virtualized MxGPU solution competes with Nvidia's GRID.
AMD says one V340 can support up to 32 1GB virtual machines, or “up to 33 percent more than” Nvidia’s competing Tesla P40. The company also says its new card has an integrated encode engine capable of independently compressing video streams in H.264 and H.265, thus lightening the load on the CPU.
With the continued discovery of new vulnerabilities inherent in modern computing hardware, potential buyers of the V340 should also note that AMD says its card has a built-in security processor that can encrypt storage and secure the boot process.
According to AMD, the Radeon Pro V340 graphics card should be available in Q4 of 2018. No price has been announced. But that may still be up in the air while AMD waits to see if Nvidia is going to stick with its Volta-based Tesla cards for now, or release a new generation of Turing-based parts to one-up AMD in the data center space.