What’s AMD’s Strategy behind the Polaris-Based Radeon 500x GPUs?

AMD’s Radeon graphics

In the previous part of the series, we saw that Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) had launched its new Ryzen CPUs (central processing unit) on the same design architectures and without integrated GPUs (graphics processing unit).

AMD aims to make its Ryzen CPUs competitive with Intel’s (INTC) core processors, which have integrated GPUs. An integrated GPU sits on the same silicon as the CPU and carries out a major portion of the computer’s work.

What’s AMD’s Strategy behind the Polaris-Based Radeon 500x GPUs?

Hence, AMD has launched the Polaris-based RX 550 GPU, which is faster than Intel’s integrated GPU but slower than other discrete GPUs. Let’s dive deeper into AMD’s GPU profile.

AMD’s Polaris GPU a success

AMD launched its first Polaris GPU Radeon RX 480 at the end of June 2016 followed by a series of Polaris-based graphics cards for the desktop, notebook, professional graphics, and data center spaces. Polaris’s architecture saw strong sales in all these subsegments, increasing AMD’s graphics revenue in the double digits percentage-wise in 1Q17 compared to 1Q16.

Polaris Radeon 500x series unexpected

After the success of Polaris, the next step in AMD’s GPU road map is Vega, which is scheduled for launch by the end of June 2017. However, the company launched its Radeon RX 500 series, including the RX 580, RX 570, and RX 550, based on Polaris architecture in April 2017.

This series was unexpected, as graphics card makers generally retire their old architectures when launching new ones in order to prevent the cannibalization of their own products. However, AMD has different plans for the RX 500x series.

Radeon RX 500x series

The RX 500 series includes mainstream GPUs targeted at users who want to build cheap PCs (personal computer) from scratch. These GPUs support advanced display technologies and deliver optimal gaming experiences at lower costs than discrete GPUs.

The idea behind launching this GPU series a few days after the Ryzen CPU is to provide PC users better performance than Intel’s CPUs at the same price point. A user can club the $130 RX 550 with a $400 Ryzen 1700X and enjoy better performance than Intel’s CPU with an integrated GPU.

AMD’s RX 550 GPU performs better than Intel’s integrated GPU

Gizmodo tested AMD’s RX 550 against Intel’s HD 630 integrated into the Kaby Lake i7-7700K. The test results showed that the RX 550 played Civilization VI nearly four times faster and Overwatch three times faster than the HD 630.

AMD told Gizmodo that it has plans to launch notebook variants of its Radeon 500X GPUs later in 2017. It may also integrate these GPUs into a few laptops in the future.

Next, we’ll look at AMD’s Vega GPU.