At Computex 2016 today, AMD took to the stage to reveal their latest GPU, the RX 480. Priced at starting at $199, the company says they designed the card to help make the first 100 million PCs ready for VR.
On stage at AMD’s Computex 2016 keynote today, Raja Koduri, Senior VP & Chief Architect of Radeon Technologies Group, revealed the AMD RX 480 GPU, saying that the card is designed for “premium VR”.
Koduri said that AMD has found that of 1.43 billion PCs worldwide, only 13 million (just 1%) this year will have the graphics power needed to run high end virtual reality like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Further, the company found that cost is the leading factor preventing adoption.
The $199 4GB version of the RX 280 is a far cry from Nvidia’s recently launched $699 GTX 1080, against which AMD compared their new card. The less expensive GTX 1070 ($450) is probably a more fair cost comparison, but the reason why AMD chose to pit it as the benchmark backdrop quickly became clear.
Running a non-VR game, Ashes of the Singularity (2016), side-by-side against the GTX 1080 showed that two RX 480s in a Dual Graphics configuration bested the 1080 with only 51% utilization compared to 98.7% on the competing card. And that, Koduri gladly noted, was achieved for less than $500. Of course, a singular benchmark like this doesn’t come close to telling the entire story, but AMD could have an interesting case for gamers wanting high-end performance for less. Importantly for VR gamers though, there’s no telling yet if using dual RX 480s will scale as well for VR applications as it does as well as we see here in a non-VR application.
“We’ve seen an incredible range of immersive applications and game-changing experiences that have given millions of people around the world their first taste of virtual reality,” said Nate Mitchell, VP of Product at Oculus. “AMD is going to help drive that adoption forward even more by bringing their high-end VR GPUs to the $199 price point.”
AMD Radeon RX 480 Specs
Despite the relatively diminutive cost, AMD claims that the RX 480 is “built like a $500 premium card,” noting that the cooling and other design aspects can be seen in their top-of-the-line cards from their last generation.
The RX 480 is among the first GPUs from AMD build on their 14nm FinFET ‘Polaris’ architecture, making it, at 150W, the company’s most power efficient GPU ever, according to Koduri. The card’s $199 starting price is for the 4GB flavor, while an 8GB model will be offered as well, though the company has not yet priced it. The RX 480 release date is set for June 29th.
And while the RX 480 is priced at $199, Koduri claims that the 5 TFLOP card hopes to last for the next several years of VR gaming.
“We chose the computing and the bandwidth and the specification of the card based on what the content developers are going to tune for over the next 3-4 years,” he said. “So we didn’t make it a card that is just for this year, this is a card for the next 3-4 years, with our deep understanding of the content pipeline for what’s coming.”
Of course, where the acceptable bar for GPU horsepower in VR uses is ultimately in the hands of consumer and developer adoption, and that largely depends upon what the market decides it’s willing to pay for the VR experience. If the market leans toward the high-end, and sticks with Nvidia’s more powerful but generally more expensive GPUs, the RX 480 may see itself outmoded earlier than AMD hopes. If things go the other way, and the market jives with a lower price point, AMD could be in a great place with their cost-focused strategy, leaving Nvidia cards for a more niche high-end audience.