AMD unveils a burly Vega graphics card, but it’s not for gamers

At long last, AMD finally announced its first Vega graphics card... only you won't be using this to play games. Instead, the Radeon Vega Frontier Edition that AMD unveiled yesterday evening during its Financial Analyst Day presentation is a muscular card for professionals. Drats!

The good news here is that AMD's first Vega card gives us a glimpse of the architecture and what kind of performance we can expect. In this case, the Frontier Edition features 64 compute units, which works out to 4,096 stream processors, the same as AMD's Radeon Fury X. It also has 16GB of HBM2 memory on a fat 2,048-bit bus, clocked at around 1875MHz (480GB/s).

AMD is claiming 25 teraflops of half-precision FP16 compute performance and 13 teraflops of single-precision FP32 compute performance (both are peak metrics). That puts Vega ahead of Nvidia's Titan Xp, which wields 12 TFLOPS of FP32 compute power.

During an on-stage demonstration, AMD showed the Frontier Edition pushing between 60 and 70 frames per second in Sniper Elite 4 at 4K resolution, according to PCWorld. It is not known what graphics settings AMD was using, but if they were in the high range, that would put this Vega card in range of a GeForce GTX 1080 Ti.

While you could technically play games on the Frontier Edition, AMD says you're better off waiting.

"The Radeon Vega Frontier Edition graphics card is going to empower the pioneers creating the next generation of gaming experiences, but it does beg one question: Can you game on a Radeon Vega Frontier Edition? The answer is yes, absolutely. But because this graphics card is optimized for professional use cases (and priced accordingly), if gaming is your primary reason for buying a GPU, I’d suggest waiting just a little while longer for the lower-priced, gaming-optimized Radeon RX Vega graphics card. You’ll be glad you did," AMD's Raja Koduri said.

While you may not end up playing games on the Frontier Edition, it will be used by professionals for machine learning tasks, which is wildly popular these days. AMD also says the Frontier Edition excels in advanced visualization tasks and VR workloads, as well as game design workflows.

There will be two versions of the Frontier Edition—one that is air cooled and a second with a sealed all-in-one liquid cooler similar to the Fury X. Both will require two 8-pin PCIe power connectors.

AMD did not mention pricing, but we suspect this will top the $1,000 mark. As for consumer variants, we're crossing our fingers that AMD launches gaming-based Vega cards at Computex in a couple of weeks.

Paul Lilly

Paul has been playing PC games and raking his knuckles on computer hardware since the Commodore 64. He does not have any tattoos, but thinks it would be cool to get one that reads LOAD"*",8,1. In his off time, he rides motorcycles and wrestles alligators (only one of those is true).