AMD has allegedly stopped production of its first 7nm GPU, the Radeon VII. The reason is said to be the low performance difference to the RX 5700 XT.
Radeon VII: expensive gap filler with a lot of HBM2
With the Radeon VII, AMD introduced the first 7nm graphics card for consumers at the beginning of the year. It’s a modification of the Radeon Instinct MI50, which was only intended for servers, and the old Vega architecture. AMD had ported this to 7nm. Since the company was visibly under pressure due to Nvidia’s Turing series, the Radeon VII was created without further ado. In addition to 60 Vega 2 compute units, it also brought the full 16 gigabyte HBM2 memory of the Radeon Instinct MI50 with it. Only the PCIe 4.0 interface and some workstation features are missing.
The Radeon VII was supposed to be the main opponent of the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080. After the launch, however, the disillusionment was great. Thus the graphics card performed slower than the RTX 2080 in most games. However, it is well suited for compute tasks due to the immensely fast video memory. The HBM2 stacks are a big advantage with speeds of over one terabyte per second and 16 gigabytes of capacity. However, this also had its price. At the start the Radeon VII cost $729, meanwhile the prices have fallen to $670. One of the price drivers is the expensive HBM2 memory.
However, the fate of the Radeon VII was clear from the start. AMD itself designed the graphics card with a powerful cooler with three axial fans. At the beginning there were rumors that custom versions of the AIBs are completely forbidden and there will be only 5,000 pieces for the launch. Fortunately, both of these things did not come true, but there are still no custom models. Probably also for good reason.
AMD allegedly stops Radeon VII production after only five months
As the French website cowcotland reports, the Radeon VII has already reached end-of-life status after only five months. According to the report, production will be discontinued and only residual stock will be sold. The reason is the recently released Radeon Navi graphics card RX 5700 XT. It performs in games only 5 to 10 percent below the Radeon VII, but costs significantly less. Custom models of the board partners could further reduce the gap.
The production costs are probably also a problem for AMD. The Vega 2 graphics card finally has its genes from a server and workstation graphics card with a much more complex structure. The HBM2 memory is expensive and requires a complex connection via a multi-chip module. In addition, there is a much more expensive power supply. The performance per watt is also not good compared to the RX 5700 XT. The end of production of the Radeon VII is therefore no big surprise. However, the fact that the end comes after five months on the market is quite abrupt.
A hint for a high-end Navi GPU?
But the end of the Radeon VII could also point to something else. After all, AMD positioned the graphics card against Nvidia’s high-end. Although the company was far from approaching the RTX 2080 Ti, the potential is there again thanks to the Navi architecture. Maybe in the near future there could be higher offshoots, which even significantly exceed the RX 5700 XT. By then at the latest, the Radeon VII would have become completely superfluous anyway. So if you still want to buy one of the graphics cards, you should probably hurry. The cheapest model currently costs $669.99 at Newegg.
There are two schools of thought on the AMD Vega56, 64, and the Radeon VII: (A) These were really „Frankenstein Monsters“ as far as AMDs‘ attempts at enthusiast & high-end GPUs are concerned and (B) These three GPUs were vital, failed transitions that were necessary in order to pave the way for the Navi GPU architecture. It took AMD working through the misfire that was the Bulldozer CPU architecture in order for them to transition to the success it currently enjoys with the Ryzen CPUs. From AMD working with what they had, they also developed Vulkan, GCN („Graphics Core Next“), and other innovations that would eventually lead to Ryzen and Navi. Plus, AMD is still the only company that has both a CPU/GPU solution, whereas Intel(CPUs)and Nvidia (GPUs) are still masters of only one type of solution (though each are larger companies with more revenue than AMD). As the saying goes, „One can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, first“. Being the underdog to Intel and Nvidia only motivated AMD to strive forward and innovate, when so many other software & hardware companies had either fallen by the wayside or were swallowed by bigger competitors. AMD endured even when many had written its epitaph, going forward even in the face of marginal profits and rising debt. With the willingness to learn, adjust,adapt, and becoming more nimble, AMD made a series of moves to elevate itself above just being the „budget“ option. AMD is really the antithesis of the risk-averse, „too big to fail“ companies: It isn’t afraid to take risks and even risk failure in the pursuit of excellence and innovation. It’s this dogged determination which led to the creation of Ryzen and will also lead to successes with Navi. Though it’s much too soon for AMD to declare victory in the GPU arena, the launch of „Navi RX 5700/RX 5700XT“ are a very positive indicator for a reversal of fortune for the company. Again, the GCN/Polaris/Vega architectures served as very important transitions/stopgaps on the road to Ryzen and Navi/RDNA. If Ryzen is any indication, AMD is definitely headed in the right direction with Navi. AMD doesn’t really have to „beat“ Nvidia in order to be a highly viable alternative(though I’m sure that’s still something they strive for). As the saying goes: „when companies compete and innovate, consumers win.“ The PC world would be a much more expensive, dreary place without AMD in it. AMD, Intel, and Nvidia make each other better & offer more diversity to consumers. What could be better than this?