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AMD Radeon VII Graphics Card Review: Why Ethere...

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AMD Radeon VII Graphics Card Review: Why Ethere...

Today we can finally reveal the Linux performance details for the AMD Radeon VII graphics card... Especially if you are an open-source driver fan, it's quite a treat thanks to having fully open-source and fairly mature driver support, but can this $699 USD graphics card dance with the likes of the GeForce RTX 2080 Here is our initial look at the Radeon VII performance on Linux using fifteen different AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards for both OpenCL compute and Vulkan/OpenGL gaming on Ubuntu Linux.

The Radeon VII is AMD's recently announced 7nm gaming GPU. This is more than just a re-spin of Vega at 7nm but also now features 16GB of memory via four HBM2 stacks for offering an incredible 1TB/s of memory bandwidth and there are 3840 stream processors. The boost clock speed also tops out at 1750MHz compared to 1546MHz with the RX Vega 64. Thanks to transitioning from GloFo's 14LP to TSMC's 7nm FF process, the TDP on this more powerful Vega 20 graphics card is around 300 Watts, roughly in line with the RX Vega 64. Having a 300 Watt board power rating requires dual 8-pin PCI Express power connectors for sufficient power.

But what makes the Radeon VII special for Linux users is the open-source driver support... It's in very good support for launch-day and unprecedented for a high-end graphics card. Back during the original Radeon RX Vega launch, AMD had open-source support available but it wasn't yet fully mainlined and there it was obstructed and delayed by first needing to merge the AMDGPU DC display support in order to drive the display outputs. That all got squared away in the first few months and was good that the open-source code was at least available for those wanting to build their own kernel, still an improvement compared to past AMD GPU launches. Even with the recent Radeon RX 590 launch, there ended up being some last-minute vBIOS production changes that botched the launch until some new microcode files and kernel patches were pushed out weeks later. But in the case of Radeon VII Everything should "just work" if you are on a sufficiently new software stack (or using the Radeon Software packaged driver).

From my testing, for those wanting to use the Radeon VII on the open-source Linux graphics stack should seek out at least the Linux 4.20 stable kernel series until the availability of Linux 5.0. I side with Linux 5.0 simply for always preferring the very bleeding edge graphics driver support particularly for new graphics cards, but the current 4.20 stable series should get by. The other benefit of moving to Linux 5.0 is the new FreeSync/VRR support at long last along with other AMDGPU DRM driver improvements. Linux 5.0 will be introduced as stable around the end of February if waiting until that point. Compared to pre-4.20 kernels, the Linux 4.20 kernel has performance improvements for Vulkan and other Vega improvements as for why I would recommend it over a 4.184.19 kernel that may still work but with the potential for issues or less than ideal performance.

It may be the world's first consumer graphics card to use a 7nm (nanometer) manufacturing process, but it is, in almost every sense, a very workmanlike graphics card. It's got buckets of power at its disposal thanks to its ludicrous 16GB of HBM2 memory (which is twice that of the Vega 64), 3840 stream processors and 1TB/s memory bandwidth, but on the surface I'd argue there isn't really a huge amount to get excited about. Until, that is, you realise you can get almost RTX 2080 levels of speed for around 40-100 less. Almost.

The Radeon 7 is, I should note, very much a graphics card aimed at the 4K end of things rather than 1920x1080 or 2560x1440. You'll have no trouble running any sort of game at these lower resolutions on maximum settings with this kind of card, but there are also plenty of other GPUs out there that will accomplish exactly the same thing for a heck of a lot less money - just tak

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