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AMD announces world’s fastest graphics card and first all-in-one VR headset

AMD Radeon Pro Duo.jpg

During the Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2016 at AMD’s “Capsaicin” event, the company announced the most powerful graphics card in the world aimed at Virtual Reality (VR) creators, coupled with their LiquidVR Software Development Kit (SDK). With the focus on VR, AMD has also unveiled the world’s first all-in-one VR, Augmented Reality (AR) and spatial computing, wireless headset; the Solun Q, powered by AMD.

Before we  take a look at the details, here's why the Radeon Pro Duo is the world's fastest graphics card - 16 TFLOPS compute power - more than twice what Nvidia’s GTX Titan X can deliver.

AMD's Radeon Pro Duo is a monster

My colleague Han Cilliers reported that you would have to “wait a bit longer for the world’s fastest graphics card” late last year, which was at the time codenamed the “Fiji Gemini”. AMD’s immensely powerful dual-GPU graphics card has now been announced as the Radeon Pro Duo. It is by far the most powerful graphics card with a monstrous 16 TFLOPS of computing power. 

To give you an idea of how much computing power the card has, Nvidia’s Titan X produces 7 TFLOPS and the PlayStation 4 produces 1.8 TFLOPS of computing power. That's more than eight times the PS4's power and more than double that of the Titan X! The massive amount of computing power comes from two “fully enabled” Fifi GPUs clocked at 1GHz on a single board, with 8GB of High Bandwidth Memory (HBM). 

Amandtech explains that: “Assuming the card doesn’t throttle for heat or power issues, this would put performance at an almost identical level to a Radeon R9 Fury X Crossfire, with a gap of no more than 5%. Otherwise as this is Fiji, the rest of the specifications should not come as a surprise. Doubling up on Fijis gives us 64 ROPs and 256 texture units per GPU. And 4GB of HBM per GPU, clocked at 1Gbps for an effective memory bandwidth of 512GB/sec.” - Source  

At the time of writing two important aspects of the Radeon Pro Duo is not known; namely the heat it produces and how much power it requires to run. All we know for certain at this point is that it will feature a "closed-loop liquid cooling solution" and that from all the footage so far from the GDC, the card will use three 8-pin PEG connectors. Therefore, the Radeon Pro Duo will very likely require a large Power Supply Unit (PSU) to run.

Radeon_Pro_Duo_02.jpg

AMD states that: “Radeon™ has done it again by creating the fastest gaming card in the world. Improving over the Radeon™ R9 295 X2, the Radeon Pro Duo card is faster yet quiet. The 3rd generation GCN architecture featuring asynchronous shaders enables the latest DirectX™ 12 and Vulkan™ titles to deliver amazing 4K and VR gaming experiences.” - Source

AMD anticipates that the Radeon Pro Duo will be available in early Q2 2016 for the price of $1499, which is more expensive than two Fury X cards. Extreme power comes at a price after all. However, with the Polaris GPU architecture coming sometime later this year, you might wonder why anyone would pay such a large sum of money for a Fiji based graphics card.

Well, the Radeon Pro Duo isn’t just for 4k ultra settings gaming. AMD notes that the Radeon Pro Duo is the initial product in their AMD VR Creator line featuring their LiquidVR SDK.

AMD’s Raja Koduri, the senior Vice President (VP) and chief architect of the Radeon Technologies Group (RTG) states:  

"More powerful computing platforms are rapidly leading to greater immersive experiences. This is most evident with VR which demands ever higher compute performance with rock solid consistency. Our new AMD Radeon™ Pro Duo with our LiquidVR™ SDK is the world's fastest platform for both content creation and consumption1, enabling a world class graphics and VR experience." - Source

The Radeon Pro Duo with the LiquidVR SDK is also “the perfect choice” for Crytek’s "VR First" initiative, according to Crytek’s CEO Cevat Yerli.

Mr. Yerli further comments: "As a graphics card that bridges the needs of both VR content creators and content consumers, it's extremely fitting hardware to supply to the brightest up-and-coming developers, who will surely shape the future of virtual reality and immersive computing." - Source

With the focus on VR content creation, AMD has also stepped into the VR consumer market with the world’s first all-in-one VR/AR headset.

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The world’s first all-in-one AR/VR headset

AMD has unveiled the Solun Q Head-Mounted Display (HMD), a headset like no other. It is the world’s first all-in-one, tether-free “wear and play” headset for spatial computing, VR and AR. AMD notes that it is an “incredibly sophisticated technology that's absolutely simple and intuitive to use.”

The AMD-powered Solun Q HMD features:

  • Redefine what’s possible – “Turn your surrounding environment into an augmented or virtual reality experience through Sulon's ‘spatially aware’ headset. The Sulon HMD brings virtual and augmented technologies that revolutionize the way people live, work and play. This wearable head mounted computing platform enables an immersive experience that will open your mind to new possibilities.”
  • Enhance your reality – “When you experience augmented reality the Sulon way, your physical world is not replaced, its enhanced. Everywhere you look your full field of view is the physical world you know, seamlessly augmented with new realities. It s the best of both worlds, literally.” Spatial mapping – “The Sulon HMD uses spatial mapping in real-time to bring the entire space you are occupying into your experience allowing you to seamlessly transition from the real world to virtual worlds. Bon voyage.”  
  • Spatial direction – “What if you could get lost in the room you are in? Wonder no more. Sulon spatial redirection allows you to move beyond the walls of your home or office without leaving your physical space because when mapping your physical environment its limitations and obstacles are accounted for.”
  • A completely "untethered" experience – “The Sulon HMD offers a completely untethered experience. All rendering and processing hardware is on your head– and powerful. Our wireless, wear-and-play device transforms any physical space into a dynamic augmented environment, allowing users to step into worlds adapted to their surroundings. Walk around in the scene you’re in.” - Source  

The headset does sound incredible to say the least. If it is competitively priced, it could shake up the VR/AR market, delivering an all-in-one experience without the need for additional hardware or upgrades.

Sulon Q will sport a 2560×1440 resolution, 90Hz refresh rate and a 110 degree Field of View (FoV), powered by hardware that you will carry on your head. Unlike most VR devices, AMD’s Sulon Q comes with integrated PC components, creating an all-in-one, wireless device.

The components include an AMD FX-8800P processor with Radeon R7 graphics, 8GB of memory and a 256GB solid-state drive (SSD). All the parts mentioned above are crammed into a “portable hard drive-sized box” attached to the rear of the device.

At the time of writing, the only concern is how heavy the device will be with all the hardware on a user’s head. No pricing or release date has been made available, but AMD is targeting a mid-2016 release.

What do you think about the upcoming Radeon Pro Duo and AMD powered Sulon Q? Let us know in the comment section below.

Sources: Amandtech, AMD, Sulon
Images Credit: WCCF Tech

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