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Radeon VII Thread
Quote:Today, AMD unveiled the first 7nm gaming graphics card at the company's CES 2019 keynote. Available February 7th for $699, the AMD Radeon VII promises big performance improvements over the Radeon RX Vega 64, the company's current flagship gaming GPU.

With twice the memory and memory bandwidth, the AMD Radeon VII claims to be up to 29 percent and 39 percent faster in gaming and demanding content creation scenarios, respectively, when compared to the Radeon RX Vega 64.
When it launches February 7th, the Radeon VII will be available directly from AMD as a first-party card, something team red hasn't done before. As is the custom, several of AMD's add-in-board (AIB) partners will also offer the Radeon VII graphics card.
Quote:Many enthusiasts were praying for a Navi announcement. However, they received a die-shrunk version of Vega 10 instead. The Radeon VII employs AMD's existing Vega 20 graphics processor. In case you haven't been following AMD's discrete graphics card evolution, Vega 20 made its debut with the chipmaker's Radeon Instinct MI60 and MI50 data center graphics cards a couple of months ago. Both silicons take after the Graphics Core Next (GCN) 5.0 microarchitecture.
The AMD Radeon VII comes equipped with 60 compute units, and since the graphics card adheres to the GCN standard, this tallies up to 3,840 stream processors, 240 TMUs (texture mapping units), and 128 ROPs (render output units). AMD states that the Radeon VII will feature a 1,450MHz base clock and a boost clock that escalates up to 1,800MHz. The Radeon VII is good for up to 13.8 TFLOPs of single-precision floating-point performance.

On the memory side, it sports 16GB of HBM2 (second-generation High-Bandwidth Memory) operating across a 4,096-bit memory bus, which is capable of delivering a phenomenal memory bandwidth of up to 1 TB/s. AMD didn't disclose the Radeon VII's memory speed. However, if we do the math, the memory would need to be clocked at 2,000MHz to achieve a throughput of 1024 GB/s.

The VII's reference design flaunts a silver shroud, three cooling fans, and an illuminated Radeon logo on the side. On top of that the graphics card is outfitted with two 8-pin PCIe power connectors. Although AMD didn't reveal the TDP (thermal design power), the Radeon VII's triple-fan cooler suggests it's somewhere in the range of around 295W. The reference model exhibited at AMD's CES 2019 keynote comes with three DisplayPort outputs and a single HDMI port.
Quote:AMD pulled off a surprise at its CES 2019 keynote address, with the announcement of the Radeon VII client-segment graphics card targeted at gamers. We went hands-on with the card earlier this week. The company revealed a few more technical details of the card in its press-deck for the card. To begin with, the company talks about the immediate dividends of switching from 14 nm to 7 nm, with a reduction in die-size from 495 mm² on the "Vega 10" silicon to 331 mm² on the new "Vega 20" silicon. The company has reworked the die to feature a 4096-bit wide HBM2 memory interface, the "Vega 20" MCM now features four 32 Gbit HBM2 memory stacks, which make up the card's 16 GB of memory. The memory clock has been dialed up to 1000 MHz from 945 MHz on the RX Vega 64, which when coupled with the doubled bus-width, works out to a phenomenal 1 TB/s memory bandwidth.
The Radeon VII is being extensively marketed as a competitor to GeForce RTX 2080. NVIDIA holds a competitive edge with its hardware being DirectX Raytracing (DXR) ready, and even integrated specialized components called RT cores into its "Turing" GPUs. The "Vega 20" continues to lack such components, however AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su confirmed at her post-keynote press round-table that the company is working on ray-tracing. "I think ray tracing is important technology; it's something that we're working on as well, from both a hardware/software standpoint."
One way of reading between the lines would be - and this is speculation on our part - that AMD could working on retrofitting some of its GPUs powerful enough to handle raytracing with DXR support through a future driver update, as well as working on future generations of GPUs with hardware-acceleration for many of the tasks that are required to get hybrid rasterization work (adding real-time raytraced objects to rasterized 3D scenes). Just as real-time raytracing is technically possible on "Pascal" even if daunting on the hardware, with good enough work directed at getting a ray-tracing model to work on NGCUs leveraging async-compute, some semblance of GPU-accelerated real-time ray-tracing compatible with DXR could probably be achieved. This is not a part of the feature-set of Radeon VII at launch.
Quote:One logical question, based on Radeon VII’s overall improvements, is why AMD isn’t forecasting better performance for the card. On paper, the Radeon VII has enormous resources. Its peak pixel throughput blows the RTX 2080 Ti out of the water, as does its memory bandwidth. But the only benchmark where these changes really shine is Luxmark, where the Radeon VII is 1.64x faster than the Vega 64.
The average performance improvement from Vega 64 to Radeon VII based on these figures is 28 percent. If you remove the two outliers (+68 percent in Fallout 76 and +7.46 percent in Hitman), the average improvement is 27.25 percent. Either way, we end up in about the same place. The gain is very slightly larger than the flat 1.25x improvement AMD projected at the initial unveil.

Based on this data, we can say a few things about the Radeon VII that we didn’t know previously. The GPU configuration honestly seems a little lopsided, in that it combines a huge increase in memory bandwidth and pixel throughput with no change in the total number of cores. Clearly, AMD added those resources for a reason. Given that 7nm Vega is intended for both HPC / AI markets, it makes sense to think they were added to address the AI/ML space.
Quote:In this case, there’s a correction we have to issue regarding AMD and its just-announced Radeon VII. Earlier today, ExtremeTech ran a story claiming that this GPU would have a core configuration of 3840:240:128 (GPU cores:texture units:render outputs). This information was based on reporting from other sites who have attended the show and attested to the accuracy of this information. The data was reported in the context of AMD disclosing further details about the GPU while at the show, not as rumor or unverified reporting, which is why we didn’t present the usual caveats when we gave this data.

According to an AMD spokesperson we’ve since spoken to, the number of reported ROPs for the Radeon VII is incorrect. The 128 figure, while widely and credibly stated, is wrong. “Radeon VII is 64 ROPs,” the AMD spokesperson stated to us. The GPU’s actual configuration is therefore 3840:240:64.
Now that we know Radeon VII isn’t a 128 ROP card, the GPU’s smaller performance improvements over Vega 64 make much more sense. Latency and increased memory bandwidth, combined with additional clocks and possible low-level efficiency improvements executed in the shift from 14nm to 7nm account for the improved performance. It seemed strange that Radeon VII wouldn’t gain more performance from such a large fillrate improvement. Now we know why. It also means our speculations about the additional ROPs accounting for some of the GPU’s power consumption are incorrect for obvious reasons. Increased memory bandwidth and doubling the total onboard amount of RAM will still play a part in total power consumption, however.

We don’t know yet if AMD reps at the show were misinformed or exactly how the incorrect evidence spread, but ExtremeTech regrets the error.
The article misspells "MI50" as "M150".
Quote:TweakTown has reported that fewer than 5000 Radeon VII GPUs will be hitting the shelves come launch day, mid summer this year. According to its source, AMD will be making a net loss on each GPU sold to the consumer, as these are effectively just redeveloped M150 GPU accelerators originally designed for enterprise and data center use. The latter of which was announced and launched on the tail end of last year.
AMD saying that it has AIB partners in tow clearly refutes TweakTown's report, so we'll be holding our breath on this one. On top of that, 5K units for the initial product launch/first run is a fairly standard business practice worldwide, typically with bigger batches to follow. If it is the case that Radeon VII is limited to only 5,000 samples, providing long-term driver support for the cards, wouldn't make a whole lot of financial sense.

AMD’s announcement of its world first, commercially available, 7nm gaming GPU left a lot of us underwhelmed. Although the card can be quite competitive in some titles, versus its Nvidia RTX 2080 adversary (check out our full report here), it certainly wasn’t the announcement we were all hoping for, aka the arrival of Navi.
Quote:A report via Tom's says that AMD's plans for the upcoming Radeon VII are somewhat one-dimensional, in that only reference designs will be available for this particular rendition of the Vega architecture. And this doesn't mean"initial availability" only on reference cards, like NVIDIA has been doing with their Founder's editions; the report claims that at no point in time will there actually be a custom-designed Radeon VII.
The saltiness is in the title for a purpose: we'd be very surprised with a decision such as this from AMD's part. Low availability to partners is better than no availability at all for a number of reasons. Let's not forget the damage it would do to AMD's ecosystem to only release a high-performance product - the one that AMD buyers have been waiting for since the original Vega) under their own branding, closing partners out of the profits they'd make on custom designs. It just doesn't strike us as a sensible business decision.
Quote:Meanwhile, AMD is touting excellent performance in Microsoft’s DirectML library as potential evidence that Team Red could offer a DLSS-like feature in the future. In an interview with 4Gamer, AMD’s Adam Kozak stated the following:
The implication that AMD can handle DirectML workloads effectively isn’t surprising to anyone who has followed the long-term trajectory of GCN compute performance. GPU compute has been a general strength of the architecture dating back to GCN 1.0 back in 2012, and excellent performance in tests like Luxmark generally show the card’s capabilities. But tentative performance evaluation in a Microsoft SDK isn’t the same thing as a feature that’s ready to ship — and the feature being discussed, in this context, is a feature that’s still only supported in a bare handful of titles.

This relatively anemic discussion highlights the fact that beyond its basic stats, included game bundle, and price, there’s a lot about Radeon VII that we don’t know, including whether or not AMD will make any kind of technology introduction or launch around the part. With a price tag set to take it head-to-head against the RTX 2080, the gaming community is curious to know what other features or capabilities AMD will additionally announce to sweeten the competitive standing.
Quote:Adam Kozak, Product Marketing Manager for AMD recently let slip some intriguing details to the Japanese tech website, most interesting of which was the hint of a direct multi-vendor competitor for Nvidia’s DLSS anti-aliasing.
However one thing it does enable is a form of anti-aliasing that has an effect, and performance hit similar to DLSS. Yet one that’s compatible with AMD’s latest hardware as opposed to just specifically Nvidia’s Tensor cores. That’s a big deal, and if Radeon VII supports this as standard on launch, it could make the card far more appealing than we first gave it credit for initially. After all, multi-source standards like this, are typically more likely to be taken up by developers than their proprietary counterparts. Despite Nvidia’s colossal market share in the dedicated graphics card division, thanks to AMD’s console dominance (and the next gen consoles featuring the likes of its next-gen Navi GPU) the likelihood of more AAA titles turning to DX12, and in turn DirectML is more and more likely than both DLSS and DXR.

Of course it’s that last part that’ll be the clincher for AMD, DX12 still isn’t extensively supported on the PC platform, and although it’s on the uptick, we’re not quite there yet.
Quote:Interestingly, its GPU engine boost frequency is set at 1750 MHz, which is less than the 1800 MHz boost frequency figure that was mentioned by the company earlier. Could it be that AMD is reserving 1800 MHz for cards directly sold on
Quote:The Radeon VII scores, according to Tum Apisak (take it with a grain of salt), 27400 on the FireStrike test; 13400 on the FIreStrike Extreme bench; 6800 on the FireStrike Ultra test; and finally, 8700 points on Time Spy. Consulting 3D Mark's database, it seems that factory-overclocked RTX 2080 graphics cards usually score around 27000 points on the FIreStrike base and 6400 points on the FireStrike Ultra tests, which means that at least in this synthetic scenario, AMD's graphics card ekes out a win.

Results also surfaced for Final Fantasy XV's integrated benchmark, where the tables are more than turned, however, with AMD's Radeon VII scoring just 300 points higher than the RTX 2070 graphics card, and 1200 points lower than the RTX 2080 AMD wants it to compete against on the standard preset at 2560 x 1440 resolution. I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but Final Fantasy XV is an NVIDIA optimized title, if you'll remember, which might help explain why AMD's Radeon VII plunges in performance as soon as you take it up to the high preset at the same resolution: it now stands a laughable 300 points above NVIDIA's GTX 980 Ti, which is... I'll let you fire off in the comments.
Quote:Update (30/01): A PowerColor representative on Reddit stated that the company is not planning to launch any custom-design Radeon VII in the immediate future. "We did clarify to the media, that at this moment we will only carry AMD reference design and at the moment we do not have custom model planned in the immediate future," they said. PowerColor didn't completely shut off the possibility of a "Red Devil" branded Radeon VII. "Obviously there's quite of you guys out there wanting our Red Devil series on the Vega VII and we will always consider the option. Just not at this point," the statement read.
Quote:Amidst breaking news about PowerColor designing what could be the first custom-design Radeon VII graphics card, the company also unveiled its reference-design Radeon VII card, the AXVII 16GBHBM2-3DH. This card sticks to AMD's reference design clock speeds of up to 1750 MHz boost, and up to 1800 MHz "peak" clock speeds, with the memory ticking at 1000 MHz.
Quote:A rumor started spreading around the web a couple of weeks ago alleging that less than 5,000 units of AMD's upcoming Radeon VII gaming graphics card will be available worldwide at launch. New reports this week seemingly lend credence to the claims.

Andrew "Gibbo" Gibson, a representative from British computer hardware retailer Overclockers UK, said yesterday on the company's forum that less than 100 units are being allocated to the UK. Overclockers UK is said to have stacked a total of 44 units with more arriving in the coming days, which would mean the company would have the majority of the UK's allotment.

A report today from French media Cowcotland says France and Spain are getting 20 units each. According to the publication, the price for the Radeon VII has been established at 739€ with value-added tax (VAT) included. This translates to $840.06, which falls in line with AMD's MSRP of $699 after subtracting VAT from the price, since France and Spain have a VAT rate of 20 percent and 21 percent, respectively. Although with such a limited amount of units (allegedly), it's hard to picture the Radeon VII selling at that price point.

Rumor has it that due to the restricted time frame, AMD's partners didn't have enough time to prepare their custom models. So whether it be Sapphire, MSI, Asus or Gigabyte, it's expected that every brand will practically sell the same Radeon VII graphics card but in different packaging.

There is no word on when the next wave of Radeon VII shipments will arrive. Chinese factories have halted production in celebration of the Lunar New Year. While the normal downtime is a full work week, some factories extend the period up to three weeks. In a worst case scenario, the next production run could start late February.
Quote:Update February 6, 2019: Our colleagues at Kitguru were able to talk more recently with Gibbo from OcUK, who now clarified there may be anywhere between 100-200 Radeon VII available in the UK at launch, and possibly more coming after that. Take all statements with a grain of salt accordingly. The original story is below.
Quote:At least for gaming, then, we’d stop short of spending $700 on Radeon VII. The $800 GeForce RTX 2080 Founders Edition we tested tends to be a bit faster, it uses a lot less power, and it’s significantly quieter. The many 2080s available between $700 and $800 exhibit very similar attributes as Nvidia's reference design. Since two of the three games in AMD’s bundle (Devil May Cry 5 and The Division 2) aren’t available yet, there's plenty of time for additional testing before losing out on those extras. And AMD says it’s working on a potentially more elegant way to handle cooling, rather than spinning its fans up from idle to maximum speed in a matter of seconds.
But again, that’s for gaming. Content creation is another matter entirely. We don’t have many rendering or encoding workloads in our suite. However, as we recently saw in our Nvidia Titan RTX review, extra memory makes a big difference in workloads able to utilize it. In fact, it can be the difference between a successful run and a crash. Bandwidth-intensive metrics like LuxBall HDR show that Radeon VII is capable of beating monsters like Titan RTX in the right situations. AMD also puts the hurt on GeForce RTX 2080 in the SPECviewperf 13 energy and medical viewsets, both of which presumably benefit from lots of fast on-board memory. Catia, NX, and SolidWorks go AMD’s way, too.
Quote:Once you factor in the Radeon VII’s increased performance, the GPU is indeed significantly more efficient. The Radeon VII consumes roughly 75 percent as much power as the Vega 64 per frame of animation drawn. Activate its underclocking feature, and this drops to 70 percent. But the RTX 2080 consumes just 63 percent the power of the Radeon Vega 64. AMD’s 7nm GPU draws roughly the same amount of power as its Nvidia rival, but it isn’t quite as efficient on the whole.

Finally, there’s noise. I don’t own a dB meter, but folks — Radeon VII ain’t quiet. Overall, it’s comparable to the Vega 64, but there are moments when the fans on the Radeon VII kick harder. They also tend to ramp up faster. Everyone has their own personal tolerance for this sort of thing, but I consider the noise profile of these cards to be a significant negative.

At this point, the noise situation has become ridiculous. Ever since at least Hawaii, reviewers have hit AMD for the noise profile of its reference designs. To its credit, the company has at least attempted to address this, but its most high-profile attempt to fix the problem with a water cooler created an even bigger mess. Vega 64 was a loud GPU, louder than I’m personally comfortable installing in my own system. Radeon VII doesn’t improve on this at all. At this point, it’s clear AMD doesn’t actually have any interest in building or outfitting its reference cards with coolers that match the performance of what Nvidia ships (and what Nvidia ships isn’t always great, either, mind you). Hawaii launched over five years ago. Why are we still waiting for AMD to actually fix this in a high-end GPU that isn’t the Radeon Nano?

I expect a $700 GPU to have a better noise profile than the $12 box fan I bought at Aldi.
If AMD had managed to bring Radeon VII in at $600, it would have a genuine value argument to make relative to Nvidia’s product stack. If it had outpaced the RTX 2080 at the same price, it could argue for superior rasterization performance with higher noise levels as an acceptable trade-off. Instead, what we have here — at least in the consumer market — is a loud RTX 2080-equivalent without the admittedly dubious features Nvidia tried to use to justify its price increases.

You know what’s worse than an RTX 2080 with dubious features and a bad price point? A loud RTX 2080-equivalent with no new features at all and the same bad price point.

The story isn’t all bad here. AMD was able to take advantage of its shift to 7nm to improve its overall competitive standing against the RTX family, and the Radeon VII competes against the GTX 1080 Ti / RTX 2080 more effectively than Vega 64 fared against the older GeForce 1080. But I can’t hammer Nvidia for months over the price increases and positioning it introduced with Turing only to turn around and laud AMD for delivering a GPU that roughly matches on perf but offers fewer features and higher noise, uncertain as the value of those features may be.

This is not the 7nm GPU you’re looking for. We’ll have more to say on compute specifically in the near future.
Quote:Going by our 99th-percentile FPS metric for delivered smoothness, however, the GTX 1080 Ti and RTX 2080 both outstrip the Radeon VII. Right now, even Nvidia's $500-ish RTX 2070 will generally offer you a 4K HDR gaming experience as smooth as what AMD's $699 fighter can deliver, and that's with our most favorable test case for Forza Horizon 4 rolled in. If you prefer MSAA to FXAA in that title, the ride on Radeons gets even rougher, and our conversations with the company suggest that's because of a ROP bottleneck that's not going away.

Even with its best foot forward in Forza Horizon 4, it's disappointing to see a product as expensive and as critical as the Radeon VII go down such a bumpy road at launch. We've been banging this drum for seven years now. AMD has proven that it can iron out those wrinkles with driver updates and time, and we don't think a 15% improvement in 99th-percentile frame rates is an insurmountably high bar to clear if the goal is to catch the RTX 2080. Such a figure might be a deterrent to dropping $700 on one of these cards until AMD's drivers shape up, though.
For even money between the RTX 2080 and the Radeon VII, we'd put our bet on the green team for the moment. Perhaps thanks to the arrival of the Radeon VII, swift and whisper-quiet RTX 2080 partner cards are now selling for only small premiums over Nvidia's $699.99 suggested price. You'll enjoy faster and smoother gaming for your money than the Radeon VII can offer right now. We'll need to defer final judgment on the value of the Radeon VII's 16 GB of memory versus the RTX 2080's 8 GB complement, but that deficit didn't appear to cause issues for the Turing card even in Far Cry 5, a title that AMD highlighted as one of the worst memory hogs around for 4K gaming at max settings.

We imagine the Radeon VII might be the right card for some people. Perhaps your day-to-day work eats VRAM like there's no tomorrow, and you only care about gaming on the side. Maybe you don't care in the least about what you've seen of hybrid rendering with real-time ray tracing, and you passed up the GTX 1080 Ti at its zenith. Maybe you just can't bear the thought of putting one red cent in Jensen Huang's jacket fund. If any or all of those things describe you, the Radeon VII is as good as it gets for an alternative choice in high-end graphics right now. We just wish it was a smoother, quieter, and cheaper one.
Quote:Have you read our review of AMD's latest and greatest? While we may not have showered the card with lavish praise, the Radeon VII is still the fastest single-GPU Radeon card that has ever existed. It's also the fastest 7-nm GPU to date. (Hah.) AMD said the card would be available at e-tail today, and sure enough, we've found listings for it in the U.S., Canada, the UK, and Germany. Good luck actually trying to buy one, though—they're all sold out already. We were told that Amazon and AMD itself both had stock earlier, but both are out now.
Quote:Just like Founders Edition cards, Radeon VII does not include the highly popular idle-fan-stop feature which completely shuts off the fans during idle, Internet browsing and light gaming, eliminating all fan noise. To me this does look like a missed opportunity, as it could have provided a unique selling point compared to NVIDIA's offerings. In idle the card is whisper quiet though, thanks to good fan settings for that scenario. When gaming, fan noise is very high with 43 dBA, sitting between Vega 64 and Vega 56 reference, making Radeon VII one of the loudest graphics cards we have. Competing cards with NVIDIA GPUs do MUCH better here, even the Founders Editions, which typically emit more noise than custom designs from NVIDIA's board partners.
Power efficiency of Vega 20 is improved, making up lost ground vs NVIDIA, but not enough to even match their last-generation Pascal architecture — and Turing, even on 12 nm is still much more efficient. It looks like AMD will have to come up with a completely new architecture, if they want to compete with NVIDIA in that metric. Power efficiency doesn't just mean "power bill", it actually affects thermals, too, because all the energy gets converted into heat, which drives up temperatures. These temperatures also dictate how big / noisy / expensive your cooler has to be, and how fast you can run the card with a given cooler, because more performance generally means more power draw. Last but not least, running more power through the card requires a more complex / expensive voltage regulation circuitry, too.
We would have loved for Radeon VII to be a success, but looking at our numbers it seems that NVIDIA will still get away with controlling high-end graphics card pricing, even though it might not be able to justify it with RTX alone (as shown in their quarterly financials showing weak response to the RTX 20-series). At a better price, such as $599, the Radeon VII, despite its shortcomings, could have forced NVIDIA to trim pricing of the RTX 2080 and RTX 2070, which would have spurred the upgrade itch among everyone, benefiting the PC gaming market as a whole. AMD also needs to fill the vast price/performance gorge between the RX 590 and the Radeon VII, with a real successor for the RX Vega 56. One way to do that would be a cut down "Vega 20" GPU die mated to just two 4 GB HBM2 stacks at 512 GB/s, and performance rivalling the RTX 2070. Those with a Pascal (or even first gen Vega) graphics card, are yet to be given one good reason to upgrade.
Quote:Due to time constraints following significant driver-related setbacks in testing, we will be revisiting the card with a heavier focus on these “content creator” tests.
Because AMD completely overhauled its API calls for this card, no current software utilities work for it. Afterburner is broken, GPU-z needs an update (and its creator is on vacation), and Wattool is also largely non-functioning. This leaves us with AMD’s WattMan, which is also presently in a largely unusable state.

Aside from innumerable other bugs encountered, some of which we’ll list below, the most noteworthy was that manual overclocking yields worse performance than running stock in at least 9/10 cases. That one time it doesn’t is typically within variance. All “overclocks” must be validated with performance testing, as misreporting of the clocks will lead users to believe the OC is actually working. Here are two tables illustrating what’s really happening:
AMD’s drivers have largely improved over the past months, which is perhaps why it’s so disappointing that the Radeon VII drivers are so riddled with bugs. The company has worked hard to eradicate this perception of bad drivers, and has done well to fix its image and its driver packages, but botched the entire thing in one go with Radeon VII. Here’s a small list of what we encountered – we didn’t write all of them down:
  • Occasional black screen & restart issues (full stock, no OC applied). Suspected related to ASUS motherboards
  • Black screen / lock that requires hard shutdown (full stock, no OC applied)
  • Stock/auto/out-of-box crash event during benchmark triggered hard reset, ultimately killing the ability to open Radeon Settings on the system. DDU and AMD’s clean uninstaller did not remedy the issue. “Driver gremlins” left behind, post-crash, completely broke AMD drivers. We re-imaged the system to bypass the problem.
  • Some games hard crash, like Ghost Recon: Wildlands
  • Some crashes cause fans to lock to 100% fan speed until power button is held/system is cold booted
  • Manual overclocking seems to not do anything
  • Power offset sometimes does not work (validated with power meters and clamps)
  • Cannot adjust fan speed to 90%, but all other ranges work fine?
  • Fan speed sometimes gets stuck at 100% and cannot be lowered, could not determine root cause
  • Clock occasionally misreports, e.g. as “7800MHz”
  • Crashes during OC stability testing can sometimes wipe-out drivers and require a clean reinstall as Radeon Settings will stop opening
  • Performance monitor sometimes does not log for more than a few seconds on some installs (but works on others – root cause not found)
  • Stats read-out in Wattman sometimes completely disappears, seemingly without reason (even under stock/unchanged settings)
  • Fan options sometimes revert to old version (min/max RPMs rather than fan curve), seemingly without reason
What does matter is noise levels (where NVIDIA leads with strength), gaming performance (where NVIDIA’s two-year-old 1080 Ti ties the Radeon VII), functional overclocking (NVIDIA shockingly holds a lead at present), and production performance (some testing still TBD, with a large OpenCL lead for Radeon).

We have some follow-up targeted feature testing for Radeon VII that will get separate content pieces; unfortunately, because of the time lost to driver defects, we had to push some testing back for a separate content item. For now, though, from a gaming and enthusiast standpoint, the Radeon VII card is difficult to recommend. At price equivalence, at best, you get rough equivalence in frame throughput, a good PCB and VRM, and maybe good overclocking features at some point, depending. That has been our primary reason to recommend Vega 56 lately – its overclocking is genuinely fun for enthusiasts, something that NVIDIA has shied away from and nearly altogether dropped. With Radeon VII losing all of that, it is harder to justify. Our primary hope would be that driver updates resolve much of this, but we’ll have to check back for that. We do not review based on promises, just like we didn’t for RTX.

Options are good and we want to see AMD succeed in more of its GPU pushes. Competition fuels inspiration – something we know first-hand from having to compete in the media space – and we’d like to see a stronger volley back-and-forth. At present, the product simply isn’t ready for launch. It needs another few weeks in the incubator, at which point we’ll revisit its viability as we expand testing to more production applications.
Quote:To add value and give it a feature-set edge over the GeForce RTX 2080, AMD is reportedly preparing to unlock several professional graphics features for the Radeon VII that are otherwise exclusive to Radeon Pro series graphics cards. These features will be released by simply adding Radeon VII support to the upcoming Radeon Pro 19.Q1 software suite. You uninstall your Radeon Adrenalin 2019 Edition drivers and replace them with the Radeon Pro 19.Q1 drivers to access pro features.
Quote:In what is turning out to be a massive QA oversight by AMD, people who bought retail Radeon VII graphics cards report that their cards don't support UEFI, and that installing the card in their machines causes their motherboard to engage CSM (compatibility support module), a key component of UEFI firmware that's needed to boot the machine with UEFI-unaware hardware (such as old storage devices, graphics cards, NICs, etc.,).

To verify this claim, we put the stock video BIOS of our Radeon VII sample in a hex editor, and what we found out startled us. The BIOS completely lacks UEFI support, including a GOP (graphics output protocol) driver. A GOP driver is a wafer-thin display driver that runs basic display functions on your GPU during the pre-boot environment. Without UEFI support for the graphics card (i.e. with CSM running), Windows 10 cannot engage Secure Boot. Since UEFI Secure Boot is a requirement for Microsoft Windows 10 Logo certification, we are having doubts whether AMD can really claim "Windows 10 compatible" for Radeon VII, at least until a BIOS update is available.

ASRock is the first AMD AIB (add-in board partner) to release a corrective BIOS update. Although designed for its Radeon VII Phantom Gaming graphics card, this BIOS ROM works with any reference-design Radeon VII graphics card. All Radeon VII cards are identical, so flashing the ASRock BIOS onto a Radeon VII from AMD or any other board partner will not cause any issues.
Wow, sounds like the card was rushed out without any oversight.
Quote:As a follow-up to our story from Monday about AMD missing out UEFI BIOS support for its Radeon VII graphics cards, AMD has come out with a quick response. The company in a statement said that it is ready with a UEFI-ready video BIOS for the Radeon VII, and has released the BIOS to its partners. This explains ASRock's timely release of its BIOS update. The company also assured those unwilling to manually update their video BIOS that it will have one-click automatic BIOS updates posted on the AMD website very soon. AMD reiterated that the older BIOS and the new one with UEFI GOP support won't have any performance differences. The new BIOS will make your machine start up faster, since your motherboard will no longer need to load CSM. AMD's full statement follows.
Quote:Monday we were treated to news we felt was too good to be true at the back of our minds, that AMD is adding a host of Radeon Pro features to its flagship client-segment Radeon VII graphics card, by enabling support in its upcoming Pro 19.Q1 drivers. The company today released a clarification on the matter, and explained that while it's true that some Radeon Pro features are being enabled, such as enterprise-grade security, standard feature-set, and Pro-grade driver stability; key features such as 3D application certifications and optimizations are being excluded. These would be the features you pay top-Dollar to buy Radeon Pro or competing NVIDIA Quadro products for. The drivers also lack enterprise remote workstation features.
Quote:Please do note that these results include performance gained by the washer mod and thermal paste change that we had to do when reassembling of the card. These changes reduced hotspot temperatures by around 10°C, allowing the card to boost a little bit higher. To verify what performance improvements were due to the new driver, and what was due to the thermal changes, we first retested the card using the original press driver (with washer mod and TIM). The result was +0.2% improved performance.

Using the latest 19.2.2 drivers added +0.45% on top of that, for a total improvement of +0.653%. Taking a closer look at the results we can see that two specific titles have seen significant gains due to the new driver version. Assassin's Creed Odyssey, and Battlefield V both achieve several-percent improvements, looks like AMD has worked some magic in those games, to unlock extra performance. The remaining titles see small, but statistically significant gains, suggesting that there are some "global" tweaks that AMD can implement to improve performance across the board, but unsurprisingly, these gains are smaller than title-specific optimizations.

Looking further ahead, it seems plausible that AMD can increase performance of Radeon VII down the road, even though we have doubts that enough optimizations can be discovered to match RTX 2080, maybe if suddenly a lot of developers jump on the DirectX 12 bandwagon (which seems unlikely). It's also a question of resources, AMD can't waste time and money to micro-optimize every single title out there. Rather the company seems to be doing the right thing: invest into optimizations for big, popular titles, like Battlefield V and Assassin's Creed. Given how many new titles are coming out using Unreal Engine 4, and how much AMD is lagging behind in those titles, I'd focus on optimizations for UE4 next.
ASRock Radeon VIIs are supposedly selling well:
eTeknix has a positive assessment of the Radeon VII:

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