AMD Radeon RX 490; Vega-based Or 4K-focused Dual-GPU?
Since the release of AMD’s Polaris-based RX 480, we’ve seen the alleged high-end Radeon RX 490 getting a few mentions on both AMD and partner Sapphire’s website. This hints at a launch later this year given the key code promotion by AMD ends on December 31. Reports suggest that the upcoming card is going to be the 4K-focused Radeon with a pair of Polaris cards jammed into one board.
In contrary to this, we’ve also heard rumors that AMD’s top card is to feature the next generation of GPU architecture codenamed Vega. According to the company’s GPU roadmap for 2016-2018, the Vega architecture would launch in the first half of 2017. In that case, there is no chance that the RX 490 could see the light of day until the next year.
So what AMD is planning to do with the Radeon RX 490? The truth is we don’t know at the moment. The company listed RX 490 as one of the discrete graphics cards on its website, but later said in a briefing call that it was simply a ‘communication error’. Recently, they did make the mistake again but this time dropped the slightly renamed AMD Radeon R9 490 into a list of eligible graphics cards. Seems like the chip maker is gleefully trolling its customers.
What so ever, one thing that is confirmed is that the high-end RX 490 will rival the likes of the Nvidia GTX 1080 in terms of performance which means the card is not going to be cheap when it does hit the shelves.
Based on the naming convention for Pascal based graphics cards, a fourth gen ‘9’ series card will specifically target a greater than 256-bit bus with a focus on gaming at 4K. So we can expect the RX 490 to deliver a powerful gaming performance at the very highest resolution levels.
Obviously, the high-end Vega GPU could deliver that sort of performance, but AMD will more likely want its next-gen architecture to represent a whole new RX 5xx series of cards.
Also, with Vega launching in the first half of 2017 at the earliest, we don’t think AMD would wait that long especially when it has no high performance card that could compete with GTX 1080 and 1070. Right now, this particular market segment is dominated by Nvidia, with AMD only catering to the needs of mainstream and budget gamers.
Does that mean the AMD RX 490 will be a Polaris-driven card? Well the fact is there is nothing left inside the top Polaris 10 chip that AMD could unlock to offer higher performance than the RX 480. So the only option we’re left with is a dual-GPU card, sporting twin Polaris 10 chips. AMD has a history of releasing multi-GPU cards so a 4K-focused RX 490 with a pair of the same chips won’t come as a surprise at all.
At the end of the day, these are all speculation and rumors until AMD makes an official announcement about the Radeon RX 490. So take this report with the usual grain of salt. We would love to hear your views on the topic. Do you think Radeon RX 490 will be capable of giving the GTX 1080 a run for their money? Let us know in the comments.