AMD Introduces Next-gen ‘Volcanic Islands’ GPUs

Posted on September 25, 2013 9:00 PM by Rob Williams

At its Tech Day held in Hawaii earlier today, AMD revealed its upcoming graphics card lineup, appropriately codenamed “Volcanic Islands”. Right off the bat, one of the most interesting things about these GPUs is their model names. Gone are the days of “Radeon HD XXXX”; instead, this new series categorizes itself as R5, R7 and R9 (entry, mainstream and enthusiast). I admit, given we’ve been dealing with the old system so long, it’s going to be quite interesting to move onto this new naming scheme.

A couple of things this line brings to the table is the first 5 TFLOPS+ GPU, surpassing NVIDIA’s TITAN by a mere 500 GFLOPS. Able to render 4 billion triangles a second, the beefiest card, R9 290X, is composed of a staggering 6 billion transistors. As can be seen in the slide below, five cards will be available soon, spanning the gamut of mainstream pricing.

AMD Radeon R7 and R9 Series

The R7 250 is a 1GB GPU that will cost under $89 and scores just about 2,000 in 3DMark’s Fire Strike test, while the R7 260X bumps things up to 2GB, 3,700 in Fire Strike, and carries a $139 price tag. For the R9’s we have the 270X at $199, 2GB and a 5,500 Fire Strike score, and the 280X, sporting 3GB, a $299 price tag and a 6,800 Fire Strike score.

Then there’s the bad boy, the R9 290X. This isn’t priced at the moment, and isn’t even spec’d. But given it boasts a higher single-precision TFLOPS performance than TITAN, we might be able to surmise the price point if all else aligns.

Surprisingly enough, much of the event had little to do with these GPUs per se, but rather with a major new focus of AMD’s: Audio. With it’s “TrueAudio” technology (real creative naming there, guys), AMD bundles a DSP onboard that’s designed to deliver the best possible aural experience ever – even when listening through a stereo output. During the event, AMD had called many industry folk on stage to teach us what TrueAudio is going to be bringing to the table, and really, it all sounds quite amazing. Given the fact it aims to improve stereo sound, I cannot wait as a headphones user to be able to test this out once a game supports it.

We’re going to be finding out a lot more about AMD’s GPU lineup in the weeks ahead, so we’ll save the bulk of what’s new to talk about for our launch article. What we will say now is that at launch, the R9 290X will ship in limited quantities as a Battlefield 4 edition. It requires no imagination to understand what’s special about this.

The past couple of months have been a little slow on the GPU side, so AMD’s announcements are much appreciated. I cannot wait to get a chance to benchmark some of these new cards, because quite frankly, I’m dying to get our updated GPU suite up and running!

  • Bilal Khan

    Cool, though I am thinking of going Nvidia from now on.. :)

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