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AMD readies enhanced Radeon R9 290X ‘Hawaii’ graphics solution

Back in early January it was reported that the Hawaii graphics processing unit from Advanced Micro Devices might be more powerful than AMD publicly disclosed because of deactivated units. So far the theory has not been proven, but this may change soon. A famous overclocker said on Friday that AMD may reveal a more powerful version of the Hawaii GPU.

Currently AMD sells two versions of the Hawaii GPUs: the Radeon R9 290X is configured to feature 2816 stream processors (SPs)/44 compute units (CUs), 176 texture mapping units (TMUs) and 64 raster operating units (ROPs), the Radeon R9 290 sports 2560 SPs/40 CUs, 160 TMUs and 64 ROPs. However, an examination of what was claimed to be a die-shot (or a floor-plan) of Hawaii graphics processing unit shows that the chip may feature as many as 3072 stream processors (48 CUs).

Apparently, the theory may be true. 8Pack, a well-known overclocker, recently said that the Radeon R9 290X may not be the fastest Hawaii-based solution possible and that AMD could release something better.

“290X is not full fat,” said 8Pack over at Overclockers.co.uk forums. “The Contingency is ready. As usual NDA stops me from saying very much. Yes, I do have more info but I can’t share it.”


Designers of microprocessors and graphics processors in many cases integrate redundant execution units into their chips in order to have more processors with specifications that meet their performance targets (even in case certain execution units malfunction, there will be enough functional units to hit the targets). Obviously, certain chips are 100 per cent healthy and potentially they can be used to create even higher performance solutions. Apparently, this is the case with AMD's Hawaii.

It remains to be seen how fast the Hawaii-3072 graphics solution will be. Theoretically, we can expect a 10 per cent performance improvement compared to the Radeon R9 290X, but in reality the boost may be higher or lower, depending on the clock-rates and other factors.

AMD did not comment on the news-story.

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KitGuru Says: It is a big question whether AMD needs a Radeon R9 290X+ graphics solution. A graphics card based on the Hawaii GPU with 3072 stream processors will clearly beat Nvidia Corp.’s GeForce GTX Titan Black graphics card in a lot of performance benchmarks. At the same time, the release of such graphics card will affect sales of the Radeon R9 290X, which is easier to manufacture…

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