Things have finally settled down for AMD after Vega. While we all sit back and wonder what could’ve been, AMD have already set their sights on the next iteration in AMD’s mainstream graphics card family, Vega 11.
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Polaris-based GPUs have served us well but their time is coming to an end. Vega 11 is a cut-down version of the Vega we’ve seen so far, which is intended to replace 400- and 500-series graphics cards.
Packaging orders for Vega 11 have been sent to Siliconware Precision Industries (SPIL) – the company responsible for packaging Vega chips – according to a source close to DigiTimes. Global Foundries, AMDs go-to chip manufacturer, are also expected to continue their partnership and will be manufacturing these future Vega 11 GPUs.
So far, Vega architecture has been paired with HBM2 memory. However, cut-down Vega 11 is expected to utilise GDDR5, which is found in the majority of graphics cards on the market today. Due to the high cost and low availability of HBM2, it will be tricky for AMD to create budget-minded graphics cards while utilising the higher-spec memory technology.
AMD have been struggling with Vega chips, and it seems they would only be in a worse position, attempting to meet the demands of the mainstream market with Vega tech, if they tried matching it with HBM2. It seems too optimistic for AMD to entirely ditch GDDR5 at this point and it’s doubtful whether AMD will be using exclusively HBM2 in their Navi-based graphics cards down the road.
Also hinted at in the report is Vega 20. It is reportedly going to be manufactured by TSMC using a 7nm FinFET process and is expected to be the most powerful Vega architecture part from AMD. But before you get too excited, this is intended entirely for AI and supercomputers.
AMD’s public roadmaps have so far touted the next-gen Navi architecture as their first 7nm design, with the exception of leaked internal slides, of dubious veracity, from 2016 that reference 7nm Vega 20 chips. Whether we will see 7nm Vega chips is still a mystery, as nothing from AMD has been clear on the matter. AMD will take the better part of 2018 to even get close to profitable yields with the 7nm process, so don’t hold your breath for 7nm, whatever the case may be.
While Navi is touted by AMD as the killer architecture for the next generation, it’s not expected until 2019. We could see another high-end Vega-based card in the meantime, alongside Vega 11-based graphics cards. AMD’s roadmaps indicate we are still expecting a refreshed 14nm+ Vega-based chip before Navi is available. The final iteration of 14nm, which has been used since Polaris, is supposedly this 14nm+ refresh, before AMD move onto a 7nm process with Navi.
Vega 11 graphics cards are supposedly arriving sometime in 2018 and 14nm+ Vega could be the next mid- to high-end option for AMD customers around the same time.