With GPUs, the trend is clear: hardware is evolving to become smaller and more powerful. In Sept. 2015, NVIDIA announced a notebook iteration of its flagship GTX 980, a massive leap in merging the mobile and desktop markets. AMD unveiled its Graphics Core Next 4.0 (GCN), also known as Polaris, a next-generation GPU that draws substantially less power than current GPUs. A demo of the GCN showed the chip running a game at 1080p, 60 FPS running at under 86 watts, as opposed to a current-gen GPU clocking in 152W at the same resolution and frame rate.
An EE Times article explained that AMD might be using a 14nm process in its upcoming Polaris. However, the GCN uses a second-gen iteration of the 14nm process, which is optimized to deliver better performance. The 14nm process is a semiconductor device fabrication node, and the groundbreaking has been adopted in the latest processors from Intel and AMD. Intel’s sixth-gen Skylake processors use the 14nm architecture achieving significant performance increases (10% better than Broadwell processors, and 20% over Haswell processors).
Extremetech reported that the new AMD Polaris architecture offers a 65% power reduction while providing a 50% performance boost. This will benefit both the mobile and desktop markets, allowing for better performance while slashing power consumption. Hardware advancements are increasingly delivering high performance more efficiently, and AMD’s Polaris continues this trend.
A demo at CES 2016 showcased the Polaris running alongside a system with an NVIDIA GTX 950. The Polaris pulled 85W while the 950 clocked in at 145W. GlobalFounderies is slated to manufacture the Polaris. AMD has long been a pioneer in combining performance in small packages. AMD’s Accelerated Processing Units (APUs) boast significant graphics performance for integrated GPUs.
The forthcoming Polaris architecture promises a balance of performance and power efficiency. As mobile devices continue to evolve, processors shrink in size and power consumption while providing high performance.