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An unannounced AMD Vega 12 GPU just received last-minute Linux support

AMD RX Vega 64 teardown

AMD’s Vega plans seemed clear for 2018 since the top brass laid everything bare at their pre-CES talk. The imminent launch of the AMD Ryzen 2 12nm CPUs was to be followed up later in the year by Vega Mobile, and the first 7nm Vega product intended for professionals. However, a recent Linux patch indicates that potentially a ‘Vega 12’ product may be on the way.

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The latest Linux mainline kernel recently received a set of 42 patches from AMD’s engineers regarding support for a currently unreleased Vega 12 GPU. Spotted by Phoronix, the patches encompass sixty thousand lines of code, although a vast majority is made up of header files, with the rest mostly copy and pasted from previous Vega 10 and Raven Ridge blocks.

Phoronix also noted that five PCI IDs have been outlined in the code, although this may not directly represent the quantity of graphics cards released to utilise them. AMD have followed the release of these patches by also adding support for Vega 12 within the RadeonSI Gallium3D OpenGL driver, which is an open-source driver for GCN GPUs officially developed by AMD.

Currently, the Vega 10 codename indicates currently available (in theory) Vega GPU-equipped graphics cards – including the RX Vega range, and certain Radeon Instinct and Pro cards. Not to be confused with the subscript denominators of Vega-powered mobile Raven Ridge chips – Vega11, Vega 10, Vega 8, and Vega 3 – those represent the number of Compute Units powering a GPU. Don’t you just love totally clear nomenclature?

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Vega 11 was originally pegged to represent the next generation of Vega cards that would carry the torch onwards from the Polaris 500-series generation, although this did not come to pass. Otherwise, Vega 11 could potentially have been the codename for the GPU found packaged in Intel’s Kaby Lake G processors – which an AMD representative confirmed was not in fact the Vega 12 codename on the Phoronix forums – or the integrated graphics found within the AMD Raven Ridge package.

Potentially, Vega 12 will represent a low-power version of the current Vega GPUs available, as this tends to be the case with incremental codenames from team red. Usually the most powerful products make up the vanguard for an architecture at launch, and subsequent codenames – representative of products going into development at a later date – usually signify cut-down GPU designs. Beyond this, new generations or significant changes tend to warrant an increment of 10 within the codename, such as from Polaris 10 to Polaris 20.

With very little information on offer beyond the name and a handful of PCI IDs, it’s almost impossible to tell where in the product stack these will land. So, welcome to speculation corner…

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The current speculation revolves around desktop GPUs, such as a Polaris refresh or even a FirePro card. But, we do know that AMD intend to launch Vega M discrete graphics products for mobile very soon, that was explicitly mentioned back in January alongside 7nm Vega and 12nm Ryzen 2.

These mobile chips seem like the most likely recipient of the Vega 12 codename, as AMD have already confirmed a launch sometime this year. It’s also only a slight incremental change in codename. The same AMD representative from the Phoronix forum also confirmed that Vega 12 is currently an unannounced product, although as we only know the Vega Mobile name, it likely doesn’t rule this out.

With AMD submitting the required support for Vega 12 GPUs at the last minute for the upcoming Linux 4.17 kernel, one can only assume that we will know what the Vega 12 codename represents very soon.