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AMD Bumps Clocks in Low-End GPUs

May 2, 2017

Author: David Kanter

AMD kicked off its 2017 graphics-upgrade cycle by refreshing sub-$250 Radeon GPUs. The new RX500-series offers a mild performance boost, but it also includes a new low-cost model. These GPUs continue to employ AMD’s Polaris architecture, whose popularity has enabled the company to increase its PC market share from 20% to a more respectable 30%. AMD is now focusing most of its engineering resources on the upcoming Vega-based Radeon family, which pairs a new architecture with HBM2 memory for high-end and enthusiast graphics. It did squeeze out a few improvements for the low end, however.

The Radeon RX580, RX570, and RX560 are based on the existing 14nm Polaris 10 and Polaris 11 designs. But AMD is adding a new low-end GPU to the family as well: the RX550, which is based on a new Polaris 12 design. These new products use the company’s power management and the more mature 14nm GlobalFoundries technology to boost operating frequencies, although the performance gain increases their thermal and power budgets.

The RX500 family is a modest improvement over the RX400 family, offering slightly better performance at roughly the same price. The upgrade makes AMD’s midrange lineup more competitive with Nvidia’s Pascal-based GeForce 1000-series, but a large power-efficiency gap remains. Although a 3–10% performance gain won’t shift the market, it does give AMD a chance to rebrand its cards, increasing their value for OEMs.

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