A Look At AMD’s Radeon VII Workstation & Compute Performance

AMD Radeon VII GPU Die
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by Rob Williams on February 7, 2019 in Graphics & Displays

AMD’s Radeon VII might be the first 7nm gaming GPU, but the reality is, this Vega 20 chip is keen on tackling compute-intensive benchmarks, such as those from our workstation test suite. Having taken a look at gaming performance in another article, this one takes care of encoding, viewport, and rendering applications.

Introduction & Testing References

When AMD announced its Radeon VII GPU at CES, the mention of a 16GB framebuffer sent an immediate chill down our workstation PC’s back. That 16GB framebuffer operating at 1TB/s made it obvious that Radeon VII is a compute beast, despite its gaming-focused marketing.

1TB/s of bandwidth on a gaming card in an age when 500GB/s is beyond rare is quite a feat. It’s the kind of spec you’d only expect to see from the enterprise, and wouldn’t you know it, the Radeon Instinct MI50 also has 1TB/s of memory bandwidth to go with its 3840 cores.

To prove that this card was made for workstations, AMD’s briefing for the card tackled creative workloads ahead of the gaming ones. Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve was name dropped first, followed by Techgage frequent fliers Premiere Pro, Blender, and LuxMark. In Premiere and Blender, AMD says the VII is slightly faster than an RTX 2080, but in LuxMark? It dominates.

AMD Radeon VII Official Packaging

It may not affect many creative users, but AMD decided ahead of launch to improve the VII’s FP64 performance. After CES, we established with AMD that the card wouldn’t have accelerated double-precision performance, which gave us a rough estimate of 862 GFLOPS. Soon after, AMD changed its mind, doubling the effective FP64 performance over RX Vega.

As we were compiling some of our results, we noticed better-than-expected FP64 performance. We expected 2x at best, but saw 3x and beyond. It’s only by coincidence we have this information, as it’s tackled in our benchmarking script as an “in case” sort of thing. 14 hours ahead of embargo lift, AMD shot us an email which clued us in.

Long story short: due to “customer interest”, AMD decided to increase Radeon VII’s FP64 performance to 3.52 TFLOPS, which is significantly better than any other gaming GPU out there. Two of these cards in parallel would deliver FP64 performance close to NVIDIA’s Tesla V100.

AMD Radeon VII - DaVinci Resolve Performance
AMD touts Radeon VII’s workstation performance, such as with DaVinci Resolve

In the gaming performance look that complements this article, I mentioned that AMD didn’t seem to know where the Radeon VII should be targeted. It’s called a gaming card first and foremost, yet AMD doesn’t hesitate to jump into discussion of the card’s creative abilities ahead of the gaming ones. And now we have FP64 that’s 1:4 FP32 instead of 1:16, a design change that suddenly adds more people to the list of those who will want a VII – namely those involved with science or finance. Gamers don’t need FP64, and the vast majority of creative professionals don’t, either.

Nonetheless, I draw a bit of a comparison to NVIDIA’s TITAN series with AMD’s Radeon VII. The TITAN series is NVIDIA’s best for gaming, but focuses largely on compute, and especially deep-learning. Radeon VII, meanwhile, gives focus to both gaming and workstation equally, and at seemingly the last minute, high-precision workloads, as well.

Overall, the Radeon VII seems to be best targeted at those who want a powerful GPU for their creative workloads, but also one for their gaming. These professionals wouldn’t need optimizations that might exist only on Radeon Pro, and wouldn’t care about higher-tier customer service, or 10-bit color in DX applications. With 16GB of HBM2, Radeon VII’s memory certainly isn’t going to hold it back.

To better understand AMD’s current offerings both for gaming and workstation, here are some specs:

AMD’s Radeon Gaming GPU Lineup
CoresBase MHzPeak FP32MemoryBandwidthTDPPrice
Radeon VII3840140013.8 TFLOPS16 GB 41 TB/s300W$699
Vega 644096154612.6 TFLOPS8 GB 4484 GB/s295W$499
Vega 563584147110.5 TFLOPS8 GB 4410 GB/s210W$449
RX 590230415767.1 TFLOPS8 GB 3256 GB/s225 W$279
RX 580230413406.1 TFLOPS8 GB 3256 GB/s185W$229
RX 570204812445.1 TFLOPS8 GB 3224 GB/s150W$179
RX 56089611752.6 TFLOPS4 GB 3112 GB/s80W$119
RX 55064011831.2 TFLOPS2 GB 3112 GB/s50W$99
Notes1 GDDR6; 2 GDDR5X; 3 GDDR5; 4 HBM2
Architecture: Radeon RX 550~590 = Polaris; Radeon VII, RX Vega 56 & 64 = Vega
AMD’s Radeon Pro Workstation GPU Lineup
CoresBase MHzPeak FP32MemoryBandwidthTDPPrice
SSG 94096144012.3 TFLOPS16 GB 8484 GB/s260W$6999
WX 91004096120012.3 TFLOPS16 GB 8484 GB/s230W$1399
WX 82003584120010.8 TFLOPS8 GB 8512 GB/s230W$999
Frontier4096138213.1 TFLOPS16 GB 4484 GB/s300W$499
Pro Duo2304 x212435.7 TFLOPS32 GB 3448 GB/s250W$449
WX 7100230411885.73 TFLOPS8 GB 3224 GB/s130W$549
WX 510017927133.89 TFLOPS8 GB 3160 GB/s75W$359
WX 4100102411252.46 TFLOPS4 GB 396 GB/s50W$259
WX 31005129251.25 TFLOPS4 GB 396 GB/s50W$169
WX 21005129251.25 TFLOPS2 GB 356 GB/s50W$129
Notes1 GDDR6; 2 GDDR5X; 3 GDDR5; 4 HBM2
5 GDDR6 (ECC); 6 GDDR5X (ECC); 7 GDDR5 (ECC); 8 HBM2 (ECC)
9 Includes 2TB of solid-state storage on-card.
Architecture: WX 2100~7100 = Polaris; WX 8200, 9100 & SSG = Vega

AMD’s Frontier Edition was a monster when it first released, and it continued on as AMD’s fastest GPU until this Radeon VII came along. The VII is not only 700 GFLOPS faster, it also doubles the memory bandwidth, with the same amount of HBM2. The VII also takes after the FE with its 300W TDP, a value we don’t think tells the full story (as our numbers are better).

With most everything successfully brain-dumped to this first page, we’ll quickly tackle test stuffs below, and then jump right into Radeon VII workstation testing.

Test PC & What We Test

On the following pages, the results of our WS GPU test gauntlet will be seen. The tests chosen cover a wide-range of scenarios, from rendering to compute, and includes the use of both synthetic benchmarks and tests with real-world applications from the likes of Adobe and Autodesk.

Six graphics cards have been tested for this article. More would have been tested had time allowed it, but since it didn’t, we chose what we felt were the six most relevant GPUs to help paint a useful picture of workstation performance.

That GPUs include NVIDIA’s top GeForce, 2080 Ti, the new Quadro RTX 4000, priced $200 above the VII, last-gen’s TITAN Xp, which NVIDIA blesses with workstation enhancements, as well as last-gen’s top normal Quadro, the P6000. AMD’s Radeon Pro WX 8200, priced $100 higher than the VII, is also included.

Here are the specs of the test machine:

Techgage Workstation Test System
ProcessorIntel Core i9-7980XE (18-core; 2.6GHz)
MotherboardASUS ROG STRIX X299-E GAMING
MemoryHyperX FURY (4x16GB; DDR4-2666 16-18-18)
GraphicsAMD Radeon VII (16GB; Jan 22 Press Driver)
AMD Radeon Pro WX 8200 (8GB; 18.Q4.1)
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti (11GB; 417.71)
NVIDIA TITAN Xp (12GB; 417.71)
NVIDIA Quadro RTX 4000 (8GB; 412.16)
NVIDIA Quadro P6000 (24GB; 412.16)
AudioOnboard
StorageKingston KC1000 960GB M.2 SSD
Power SupplyCorsair 80 Plus Gold AX1200
ChassisCorsair Carbide 600C Inverted Full-Tower
CoolingNZXT Kraken X62 AIO Liquid Cooler
Et ceteraWindows 10 Pro build 17763 (1809)
For an in-depth pictorial look at this build, head here.

Benchmark results are categorized and spread across the next four pages. On page 2, Adobe’s Premiere Pro and MAGIX’s Vegas Pro lead our encoding tests, with both AVC and HEVC codecs taken care of. On the same page, Sandra’s financial and scientific performance can be seen, as well as the cryptography.

On page 3, a few renderers are taken care of. These include the popular open-source design suite Blender, as well as LuxMark, and Radeon ProRender. ProRender is being tested with the help of 3ds Max, a suite that normally handles Redshift and V-Ray as well – but alas, neither work (or work well) on AMD graphics cards.

Page 4 is home to viewport performance, covered with the help of SPEC and its SPECviewperf suite. In total, 8 test results are featured here, covering important design suites like CATIA, SolidWorks, Siemens NX, Creo, as well as Autodesk’s 3ds Max and Maya.

For those interested in gaming performance, we have an article dedicated to that. So, don’t fret about missing 3DMark scores – those are tackled in that article.

Without further ado, let’s get this train moving.

Rob Williams

Rob founded Techgage in 2005 to be an 'Advocate of the consumer', focusing on fair reviews and keeping people apprised of news in the tech world. Catering to both enthusiasts and businesses alike; from desktop gaming to professional workstations, and all the supporting software.

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