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Advanced Micro Devices has announced a new addition to its lineup of high-performance graphics cards, the Radeon R9 285, which is based on the code-named Tonga graphics processing unit (GPU). The new board will address the market of performance-mainstream graphics solutions and will fight against Nvidia Corp.’s GeForce GTX 760.
The new code-named Tonga graphics chip is based on the third iteration of the GCN [graphics core next] architecture, which brings a number of enhancements to the GPUs. The third-gen GCN (some may call it GCN 1.2) features updated instruction set architecture to boost computing efficiency or add certain new features, delta-color compression (an image compression technology that encodes a row of pixels by replacing their color data with values that represent variance between subsequent pixels) to save memory bandwidth, improved tessellation performance (it is unclear whether AMD has increased the amount of geometry processing engines, or redesigned them) and some other enhancements. The GCN 1.2-based GPUs and APUs also feature universal video decoder 6.0 (UVD 6), video encoder engine 3.1 (VCE 3.1) and a new scaler for better and more energy-efficient video playback.
The first graphics card based on the third iteration of GCN and the Tonga GPU is AMD Radeon R9 285. The new graphics solution features Tonga Pro GPU with 1792 stream processors, 112 texture units, 32 raster operating units as well as 256-bit memory controller. AMD Radeon R9 285 graphics cards will come with 2GB or 4GB GDDR5 memory clocked at 5.50GHz; the recommended frequency of Tonga Pro is 918MHz. According to AMD, the Radeon R9 285 graphics boards will consume up to 190W of power and will thus require two 6-pin PCI Express auxiliary power connectors. Performance of the Radeon R9 285 should be comparable to that of the R9 280, but due to lower memory bandwidth it may not be as fast in high resolutions or with FSAA enabled.
Eventually AMD is expected to offer the Radeon R9 285X, which will be powered by the Tonga XT GPU with up to 2048 stream processors, 128 texture units and higher clock-rates.
Thanks to optimized design, architecture and 256-bit memory bus, the Tonga graphics processors will enable graphics cards that offer similar performance as the Radeon R9 280/280X (powered by Tahiti GPUs), but at lower costs. As a result, expect Tonga-based products to eventually move into the sub-$199 market segment. AMD’s partners are allowed to design their own versions of the R9 285 graphics boards, therefore, price-reductions are only a question of time.
AMD Radeon R9 285 graphics cards will hit the market on September 2, 2014, and will carry official price-tage of $249.