AMD announced the release of their new graphics processing cards at the annual Computer Electronics Show (CES), beginning on Jan. 7 and lasting through Jan. 10, to show the world what a seven nanometer process looks like in a graphics card; unfortunately for them, it was a huge bummer to the AMD fan base.
The question has to be asked: what was AMD thinking? From the time that they announced that they would be working on the seven-nanometer process, and then shortly after releasing their server CPUs on that process, AMD fanboys have been awaiting a massive increase in power from their previously released products. Vega 64 was expected to be child’s play compared to the power of this seven-nanometer beast. Average TDP, or power draw, was supposed to be significantly smaller than any other Radeon card because of the new architecture.
All of these hopes were sort of shot down at CES. Not only were attendees disappointed with the CPU prospects (which is a different story for another time), but they were also disappointed when they saw the new 7 nanometer Radeon card: the Radeon VII. The name suggests the new architecture that the card is touting, but the performance prospects were somewhat underwhelming, with what some would say was an easy way out for AMD in the massive technology war against their competitor and long-time leader of the GPU market Nvidia.
Let’s look at the facts. AMD released the Radeon VII to be their flagship processor, which it is. They also wanted to make a statement that they were also still in the graphics game, while most of their consumers would dismiss them as a CPU-only company, much like Intel. AMD did make this statement at CES and released a fairly good graphics card that will compete with the GTX 1080 Ti from Nvidia and the RTX 2080, also from Nvidia. We should give credit where credit is due, and accept that AMD is making significant process in making themselves known in both CPU and GPU markets.
But the data shows a different story. According to AMD’s benchmarks, the Radeon VII is a better card than the 2080 in productivity as well as gaming. In fact, most games render the Radeon VII a five FPS advantage on average. The Radeon VII also has 16 gigabytes of HBM2 memory, which could be the reason why it can render video much better than the RTX 2080 can. But there’s another side to this equation. The 2080 has many features that the Radeon VII doesn’t have; primarily, ray tracing. Now, as it would be disingenuous to say that ray tracing is that important (because it’s not, and is only supported in one game thus far), we shouldn’t hold this entirely against AMD and their graphics process. But it is important to note this, as it is a legitimate advantage that Nvidia has over AMD, and there isn’t a sufficient price or performance difference between the two; in fact, they both retail for $700.
Long story short, the Radeon VII is a scam, and people would much rather purchase an Nvidia card and get more performance than purchase an AMD card and not only get less performance but also spend the same amount of money and draw multitudes more power.
However, this announcement from AMD doesn’t rule out any more graphics card possibilities from them later on this year. AMD has a real shot here to deliver some amazing products to deal the final blow to Intel and maybe compete with Nvidia’s flagship cards. As it stands right now, AMD has an advantage in the transistor process with 7 nanometers, so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.