AMD Vega release date, news and features: everything you need to know

During CES 2017, processor maker AMD officially revealed the first details about its Vega graphics processing unit (GPU) architecture. Set to launch later this year, however, there is still plenty that we don’t know about Vega.

When exactly Vega GPUs will be released, for how much, and how well they’ll actually be specced – namely against the Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti – are all still hanging questions around AMD’s new graphics tech. Luckily, it won’t be long before those questions are answered.

 AMD is holding a livestream event today, during GDC 2017, its second annual “Capsaicin” event. The firm is expected to spill the beans on everything Vega and how it affects AMD Radeon, Pro and newly-minted Instinct GPUs – and maybe give AMD Ryzen some more spotlight, too. 

So, without further ado, here’s what we know about Vega just hours ahead of AMD’s Capsaicin event.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The latest in AMD’s Radeon, Pro and new Instinct GPUs
  • When's it out? Latest word from AMD is first half of 2017
  • What will it cost? Hopefully cheaper than Nvidia’s lot

AMD's latest GPU, the Radeon RX 480, in action

AMD Vega release date

The Red Team has yet to mention any specific release date for the Vega line of GPUs, but that’s exactly what we expect to get from today’s Capsaicin event.

For now, all we know is that Vega products will release sometime within the first half of 2017. So, logic would tell us that means between now and before the end of June.

Expect the release date to coincidentally land somewhere near when Nvidia plans for its GTX 1080 Ti to hit shelves.

AMD Vega price

Sadly, we know next to nothing about how much the new Vega products will cost when they land later this year. 

However, the current Radeon RX 480 lineup starts as low as $169 (about £136, AU$219), with the Radeon R9 Fury X still going for a cool $389 (about £313, AU$506). So, what can this information prepare us for?

If AMD wants its Vega GPUs to compete with the Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti that's expected to launch later today, as well as offer a range of options similar to that of the new RX series, then perhaps we should expect GPUs priced within this range - and likely beyond in the case of the highest end.

Demonstrating Vega's benefits from HBM2 versus GDDR5

AMD Vega specs

Of course, AMD has been predictably mum on exact specifications for Vega GPUs. We still don’t know the clock speeds or memory details of these cards, for instance.

However, AMD has revealed quite a bit at the high level regarding what these cards are capable of. 

For example, we know that the highest-end Vega GPU will contain the same amount of geometry engines for rendering polygons as the previous generation. However, these chips will be able to handle more than twice as many polygons per clock cycle, at 11, as the R9 Fury X’s four per clock.

This era of Vega GPUs will also ditch GDDR5 memory for a new format known as HBM2, or high-bandwidth memory, which AMD claims brings a 50% smaller footprint. To that end, Vega chips will be more equipped to handle compute tasks than ever – specifically 8-bit, 16-bit, 32-bit or 64-bit operations in each clock cycle – which will have benefits beyond video games.

Finally, AMD’s new Pixel engine will debut in Vega, now moved to a client of the GPU’s L2 memory cache. This will enable it handle graphics workloads which perform frequent read-after-write operations with less overhead on the rest of the GPU.

(We've also seen that at least one of the Vega graphics cards uses an 8-pin and 6-pin power connector, as opposed to the R9 Fury X's dual 8-pins, according to PCWorld, but not from AMD.)

Stay tuned for more details regarding everything AMD Vega, coming through later today.

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