The new AMD RX 580X could be the 40CU Polaris refresh we’ve been waiting for

AMD Polaris 10

Updated story April 9, 2018: Only a brief period of time since existence of AMD 500X series graphics cards were confirmed on the official AMD site, benchmark results for the RX 560X have appeared on the 3DMark database.

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Spotted by Overclock3D, the benchmark indicates the result was supposedly taken from an Acer Laptop, specifically the Nitro 5. Acer’s listing for the product now also reflects the 560X in its specifications.

Aside from the name, we also now know that AMD intend to launch these GPUs in mobile applications too. That doesn’t necessarily denote exclusively laptop application, however. No specific RX 580 mobile chips were created, despite them appearing in gaming laptops, and the ‘X’ suffix doesn’t exactly scream mobile. There’s also the fact that there are supposedly two RX 560 SKUs to launch, which could imply a variation specifically for mobile use.

AMD have evidently been at GPU production capacity, and their rather slim mobile market share seems like an odd investment of precious silicon. A higher-priced unit in the desperate desktop market makes greater fiscal sense.

AMD RX 480

Original story April 9, 2018: AMD were surely not going to stay silent on 2018 graphics cards for long, and now we’ve got an idea what those are going to be. In the last few days AMD have put live placeholders on the main site for Radeon RX 500X series of graphics cards.

An eagle-eyed Reddit user spotted five placeholder pages on AMD’s website, these include: the RX 580X, RX 570X, RX 560X / RX 560X (likely two memory SKUs), and RX 550X. Currently these pages offer very little information beyond the name – or to put it bluntly they are entirely blank – but we can still infer some details from the name alone.

The first Polaris graphics cards that team red launched were back in June 2016. These 400 series cards utilised RX 4xx codenames, while their refreshed counterparts, launched nearly ten months later, followed the RX 5xx nomenclature. These new cards don’t follow the same trend, and this likely scuppers any grandiose ideas for massive upgrades over the 500 series graphics cards.

A 12nm refreshed lineup was a popular theory for AMD’s mainstream launch plans in 2018. The new process from GlobalFoundries improves on the 14nm lithography used within the first-generation of Ryzen CPUs and 400 and 500 series graphics cards. AMD’s Ryzen 2 processors are the first products from team red to make the most of the new process and are set to launch later this month. These processors will be launching under the 2000-series nomenclature. You see the problem here?

AMD Radeon RX 580

It’s not unlike naming conventions to be a little inconsistent, but the 600-series naming convention could be an easy homerun for AMD’s marketing. Even the slightest bump in clockspeed, such as the one between the 400 and 500 series cards, was enough to warrant an entire generational change. It seems this convention was avoided for good reason.

So what does that mean for AMD’s RX 500X series graphics cards? Well, AMD could be mixing up their marketing – naming schemes aren’t set in stone after all – and that could mean any combination of speedier clockspeeds and memory. Any architectural changes are massively unlikely, although we have seen Vega 11, Vega 12, and Vega 20 codenames surface on more than one occasion.

Speculation of GDDR5X also seems irrational. Reports late last year indicated a worryingly short supply of GDDR5X led to the creation of the GTX 1070 Ti. Since memory shortages have seemingly far from improved since that time, it seems unlikely that AMD would be striking deals for this memory tech on the eve of GDDR6.

Polaris 10 GPU

Previous ‘X’ suffix iteration cards, such as the R9 390X, offered tangible performance increases over the standard fare. In theory, increasing the quantity of Compute Units (CUs) could increase Polaris performance similarly with the 500X series over the current 500-series cards.

There were rumours, back when the 400 series Polaris parts first launched, that a 40CU GPU was in the works – or at least viable. The ‘RX 490’ graphics card with this high-end GPU part never came to pass, but a 40CU Polaris chip did eventually make its way into Microsoft’s Xbox One X. Not saying console gamers stole a graphics card from PC gamers, but…. Either way, it’s an interesting tidbit, and proves a higher CU chip is indeed possible.

If a similar launch cadence were to be followed as the past two years, then we can expect to see AMD’s RX 500X series graphics cards arrive sometime around June.

It’s not much to go on, and unfortunately the proof of the pudding is in the eating. AMD have been determined to maintain momentum across their entire product stack, and this seems like the logical conclusion to the argument that AMD have to release something in consumer graphics during 2018 – it will help keep their investors happy, at least.