Last week AMD launched first Polaris GPU, the Radeon RX 480, which it positioned to bring VR-ready performance to a wide audience. Unfortunately, during our evaluation of the RX 480, we discovered that AMD’s new graphics card was drawing well beyond the power limits of the PCIe slot. We even retested the card, just to be sure. Over the weekend, AMD issued a statement saying that it would be able to correct the issues with a driver update and that it would have more details on July 5, following the holiday weekend.
Late Tuesday evening, AMD announced that it had worked through the weekend to come up with a solution. The company said that a new driver would be out “in the next 48 hours” would lower the power draw from the PCIe slot.
“We promised an update today (July 5, 2016) following concerns around the Radeon RX 480 drawing excess current from the PCIe bus. Although we are confident that the levels of reported power draws by the Radeon RX 480 do not pose a risk of damage to motherboards or other PC components based on expected usage, we are serious about addressing this topic and allaying outstanding concerns. Towards that end, we assembled a worldwide team this past weekend to investigate and develop a driver update to improve the power draw. We’re pleased to report that this driver—Radeon Software 16.7.1—is now undergoing final testing and will be released to the public in the next 48 hours.In this driver we’ve implemented a change to address power distribution on the Radeon RX 480 – this change will lower current drawn from the PCIe bus,” read the statement from AMD Gaming. Separately, we’ve also included an option to reduce total power with minimal performance impact. Users will find this as the “compatibility” UI toggle in the Global Settings menu of Radeon Settings. This toggle is “off” by default.Finally, we’ve implemented a collection of performance improvements for the Polaris architecture that yield performance uplifts in popular game titles of up to 3%. These optimizations are designed to improve the performance of the Radeon RX 480, and should substantially offset the performance impact for users who choose to activate the “compatibility” toggle.AMD is committed to delivering high quality and high performance products, and we’ll continue to provide users with more control over their product’s performance and efficiency. We appreciate all the feedback so far, and we’ll continue to bring further performance and performance/W optimizations to the Radeon RX 480.
In addition to reducing the power draw through the motherboard, the new driver will introduce “compatibility” mode that AMD said reduces “total power [draw] with minimal performance impact.”
The update isn't just to address the power consumption of the RX 480. AMD said that the upcoming driver would also include a number of performance optimizations in “popular game titles.”
Radeon Software Crimson 16.7.1 should be available before July 8. You can bet that we'll be putting the new driver through our power consumption tests again, once we have a copy in our hands.