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AMD ‘Tonga’ graphics chip to emerge in two or three months

Advanced Micro Devices is reportedly on the finish line with its new graphics processing unit (GPU) code-named Tonga. Actual graphics cards based on the chip are now projected to hit the market in the next two or three months. But while the arrival of almost every new GPU is an impressive thing, Tonga is more than just a new GPU since it is rumored to feature a number of all-new capabilities and be a member of a new family of chips.

AMD’s code-named Tonga graphics processor is believed to be a part of AMD’s new breed of chips based on a fresh incarnation of the GCN [graphics core next] architecture, which we will call the “new GCN” in this news-story (some call it GCN 1.2 or even GCN 2.0). The family of desktop GPUs based on the new GCN was originally projected to include Maui high-end GPU, Iceland performance graphics chip as well as Tonga mainstream graphics processing unit.

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Previously it was rumoured that the new GCN would support a number of enhancements related to heterogeneous system architecture (HSA), including GPU compute context switch as well as GPU graphics pre-emption, something that is already supported by the Kaveri accelerated processing unit. In addition, it should be logical to expect the new graphics processors to fully support existing technologies, such as DirectX 11.2, Eyefinity, TrueAudio and so on.

It is unclear whether the new GCN will further expand the architecture to boost efficiency (e.g., by adding ACEs [asynchronous compute engines] that allocate compute resources or improving graphics command processor) or just add performance to areas where it is needed (e.g., by increasing the number of geometry processors or boosting some other things). What we do know though is that GPUs based on the new GCN will be faster than their predecessors.

Exact specification of the code-named Tonga are unknown, but VideoCardz web-site reports that it would feature better power efficiency and will bring “a dramatic change in terms of power consumption”. Further enhancements of the dynamic overclocking technology called PowerTune Boost are also expected.

Graphics cards featuring Tonga GPUs are projected to compete directly against Nvidia GeForce GTX 750/750 Ti offerings powered by the code-named GM107 chip, which is based on the first-generation Maxwell architecture.

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What should be kept in mind is that all the information we know about the new GCN as well as Maui, Iceland and Tonga comes from unofficial sources and may be outdated. The first details about the new GCN emerged in 2012 and back then it was expected that the chips which belong to the new family would be made using 20nm fabrication process. While chances that the Tonga will be AMD’s “pipe-cleaner” for TSMC’s 20nm node exist, it could also be made using 28nm process technology at TSMC or GlobalFoundries.

AMD will probably reveal more information about its new family of GPUs behind closed doors at Computex Taipei trade-show in early June, but chances that the company will show a new graphics card running are rather slim.

AMD did not comment on the news-story.

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KitGuru Says: Due to increased manufacturing costs of chips at TSMC and because of  some other reasons, the introductions of new graphics chips do not follow traditional patterns. Historically, both AMD/ATI and Nvidia started to roll-out new graphics architectures from high-end offerings. Last year AMD first introduced mainstream Bonaire graphics chip powered by the GCN 1.1 architecture and only after that rolled-out the high-end Hawaii GPU featuring the same technology. This year Nvidia began to roll-out Maxwell family with GM107, a mainstream graphics processing unit. So, it will not be a surprise if AMD starts to release products based on the new GCN architecture from the Tonga-based offerings…

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