Advanced Micro Devices is providing a sneak peek at three new graphics cards based on its Polaris designs that will be able to run virtual reality games.
The Polaris architecture is the company’s first new graphics foundation in a few years, and it is set to take advantage of 14-nanometer FinFET manufacturing (which delivers faster, smaller and cheaper chips) in direct competition with Nvidia’s upcoming Pascal architecture. AMD expects to create a whole series of chips based on Polaris, and the ones it is describing today are the first.
The products include the Radeon RX 480 graphics card, which can run virtual reality on a PC for prices starting at $200 for a four-gigabyte version. AMD is also showing the Radeon RX 470 and the Radeon RX 460 cards. They go on sale on June 29.
The Radeon RX 480 can run games at a 1440p resolution and in VR settings. The 470 is geared for high-definition resolution games, while the 460 is targeted as quiet chips capable of delivering esports experiences such as League of Legends.
The RX series promises VR experiences at prices never offered before. It’s conceivable that they could be used in $800 PCs that can run VR. Right now, it costs $1,000 or more to run VR based on previous chips. That’s one of the prerequisites for getting VR in the hands of millions of consumers.
The performance will also be the equivalent of “console class” performance, meaning that many games that currently run on the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One could theoretically run on these chips on the PC, if someone ported them over. The PCs using these chips would have low power and compact form factors. AMD said it could run such games at 60 frames a second at 1080p HD resolutions.
AMD chief executive Lisa Su showed off the chips at an event at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles today.
“Gamers and consumers today are being left behind,” said Raja Koduri, senior vice president and chief architect, Radeon Technologies Group at AMD, in a statement. “Today only the top 16 percent of PC users can afford GPUs that deliver premium VR and gaming experiences. Hundreds of millions of gamers have been relegated to using outdated technology. Notebook gamers are often forced to compromise. And tens of millions more can only read about incredible PC VR experiences that they can’t enjoy for themselves. That all changes with the Radeon RX Series, placing compelling and advanced high-end gaming and VR technologies within reach of everyone.”
AMD said the RX 480 can run VR on the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets. It supports DirectX 12 and Vulkan graphics standards, enabling high-end graphics effects. The Radeon RX series supports new monitor technologies and supports HDMI 2.0b and DisplayPort 1.3/1.4 standards. It has accelerated h.265 encoding and decoding for better video streaming at 4K resolutions at 60 frames per second.