AMD Radeon R9 300 series rumors

Published: Jan 25th 2015, 22:03 GMT

Please note that this post is tagged as a rumor.

In this post I will cover all recent leaks regarding Radeon R9 300 series that we believe contain even the smallest grain of truth. We will also look at some very obvious fakes, just to show you what to avoid when looking for news.

Fact 1: AMD Radeon R9 380X listed

Let’s start with the most recent leaks. Yesterday Cloudfire sent me a link to mysterious listing in Norwegian store CDON. Apparently you can already find Radeon R9 380X there, made by ASUS and MSI. Both cards are priced at 7999 kr, which is a lot more than GTX 980 in the same store.

These two cards were quickly picked up by PrisGuide, the site apparently has went even further and added some specs, which we will ignore here, as they look like pure speculation (they also have R9 390X and R9 370X listed there if you’re wondering).

CDON is not a small store (581k facebook fans), and from what I heard they have not listed unreleased GPU before. Maybe they just made a placeholder for future listing or they are just attempting to position SEO term in Google? No one really knows. The fact is these listings exist (probably not for long).

ASUS Radeon R9 380X MSI Radeon R9 380X

Fact 2: New AMD C872 board

What you should know however, is that in the last 5 days something else happened. A new AMD board has went through certification offices. The board is codenamed C872. You might be wondering why is this so interesting. Well, we do know that Fiji XT is based on C880 board (thanks to Zauba listing), so these two boards were designed relatively in the same time period. The only difference is that Fiji C880 is not certified yet, but C872 is. Compliance testing usually takes place few weeks before launch (usually a month).

AMD C872 board model

AMD C870 board

AMD C880 board model (Fiji XT)

Fiji XT Zauba


Rumor 1: Upcoming Radeon flagship will feature liquid-cooling

In September, almost at the same time GeForce GTX 980 was introduced (obviously a coincidence), a leaker at Baidu forums published a picture of new prototype cooling designed by AMD and Asetek for the upcoming Radeon card.

We tried to confirm if it was fake, and from what we learned it was indeed one of the few proposed designs, but not a final prototype. Later I decided to make my own mockup (as seen on the right), which, for some reason, is quite popular right now.

This leak told us one important thing. New flagship GPU will require efficient cooling. AMD learned from their own mistakes, and Radeon R9 300 series might be the first to feature nice looking and well performing coolers. It’s about time we get rid of these plastic coolers in premium segment.

AMD Radeon R9 390X cooling Radeon R9 390 concept

Rumor 2: New Radeon to feature first 300W 2.5D discrete GPU

The second leak came from AMD employees themselves (our story here). On their likedin profiles information that should never be made public, was discovered by 3DCenter. The first profile revealed that AMD has first GPU with 2.5D High-Bandwidth-Memory already developed:

Developed the world’s first 300W 2.5D discrete GPU SOC using stacked die High Bandwidth Memory and silicon interposer

The second profile told us that Radeon R9 380X already taped out, and Radeon R9 300 series carry King of the Hill codename.
Radeon R9 390X GPU is the largest GPU according to this information:

Backend engineer and team leader at Intel and AMD, responsible for taping out state of the art products like Intel Pentium Processor with MMX technology and AMD R9 290X and 380X GPUs.

AMD R9 380X GPUs (largest in “King of the hill” line of products)

Rumor 3: ‘Fiji’ GPU is 500+ mm2

Bitandchips recently posted a story that new AMD GPU has a die size of ~550mm2. They provide no source, nor do they try to explain where did this number came from. I’m quite confident that this is just a speculation, possibly based on Rumor #2.

What we do know however is that Synapse Design, company responsible for GPU design process for AMD made a presentation in July last year. From this presentation one particular slide received more attention than others.

According to the slide below, Synapse designed two 28HPM chips. We still do not know what is the 500 part here, but we do know that 350 sq. mm GPU is Tonga GPU, released in September. It has a die size of 366 mm2.

Synapse Design 500mm AMD GPU

Rumor 4: New GPU has 4096 stream cores

This leak came from SiSoft Sandra database.

AMD Radeon Graphics Processor (4096SP 64C 1GHz, 4GB 1.25GHz 4096-bit) (OpenCL)

Sisoft GPU 4096 cores

According to this leak, new GPU would have 64 Compute Units, each with 64 Cores, 4096 Stream Cores in total. Everything except the core count looks plausible. New GPU should have 4 HBM stacks each with 1GB memory, such configuration requires 4096-bit interface. I wouldn’t probably pay too much attention to the clocks, as Hynix only makes 1 Gbps stacks now (Hynix).

SKHynix HBM 1Gbps

We never posted this rumor, because there are more questions than answers here. 4096 cores do not make sense in 28nm GPU. Anyone who did the math will tell that 4096 cores in 28nm GPU would be 30 to 40% more dense than Tonga. This number only makes sense for 600 mm2 GPU, it’s the only scenario where cores/die ratio is just 5% higher compared to Hawaii. So the question is: can you fit 4 HBM stacks and 600mm2 GPU on interposer? If yes, then core dissipation area of the whole graphics processing unit would already be larger than recently leaked GM200, said to be 600+ mm2, currently the largest GPU NVIDIA has ever designed (and it doesn’t have HBM stacks).

Silicon with interposer


Rumor 5: Trinidad to replace Curacao

VR-Zone reports that AMD has a new mid-range GPU coming in March. The GPU codenamed Trinidad would be a Radeon R7 360X processor equipped with 2GB GDDR5 memory and 256-bit interface. This new card would possibly be a direct competitor to recently announced GeForce GTX 960.

VR-Zone do not share any further details, but they tell us to expect this new card in just two months.

Rumor 6: Radeon R9 xxx performance, R9 370?

At GFXbench you can find a mysterious entry of Radeon R9 xxx graphics card. Further analysis tells us this is a prototype Tonga PRO GPU.

Tonga processor was released in September. It’s highly unlikely AMD would not include this GPU in Radeon R9 300 series, and since Tonga PRO is currently used in R9 285, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if Radeon R9 370X and 370 also had Tonga GPUs. Only now, R9 370X would have full-fat Tonga XT (2048SP, 384-bit, 3GB).

GFXbench Tonga pro benchmarks GFXbench Tonga pro specs

Rumor 7: AMD Radeon R9 380X to replace R9 290X, or not?

Theory 1:

AMD Radeon R9 380X is a new flagship

This is a theory that is floating around the web for past few weeks. Apparently some ‘sources’ claim that Radeon R9 300 series will introduce new naming schema. The idea here is that the new flagship would actually be called 380X, while 390X and any future ?90X part would be solely for dual-GPU graphics cards. As a result each Radeon card would have a direct competition from GeForce series with similar nomenclature. In practice it would look like this:

  • Radeon R9 390X(2) — GeForce GTX 990
  • Radeon R9 380X —— GeForce GTX 980
  • Radeon R9 370X —— GeForce GTX 970
  • Radeon R9 370 ——– GeForce GTX 960 Ti
  • Radeon R7 360X —— GeForce GTX 960

This theory is also backed by SweClockers, whose leaks are often accurate. According to them R9 380X would launch in second quarter, somewhere in-between April and June. Radeon R9 380X would be a new flagship card equipped with HBM memory. This would also be after GTC in March, where NVIDIA is said to unveil GM200 GPU.

Theory 2:

AMD Radeon R9 380X to launch before R9 390X

To be honest I’m not a fan of the first theory. Radeon Rx naming system may not be the easiest to understand, but most people are already familiar with it. Any change would only cause more confusion. And that’s where second theory kicks in.

Consider AMD launching Radeon R9 380X first, as a counterpart to GTX 980. All AMD has to do now is to release faster, more power-efficient competitor to current GM204-based flagship. Then, as soon as GM200 graphics cards start to appear, AMD can launch R9 390X.

This is actually a good idea, because for the past few years, each time AMD brought a new flagship to the market, NVIDIA already had a new card in the sleeve (GTX 680 after HD 7970, GTX 780 Ti after Hawaii etc.).


Fake 1: Captain Jack — GM200, Fiji and Bermuda performance

Let’s take a look at some fakes. The forefront of all fakes are as always Chiphell forums. Few weeks ago they posted those performance benchmarks. The leaker claims to own four unreleased GPUs, cut-down GM200, full GM200, Fiji XT and Bermuda XT. For some reason he did not include GM206, although it’s was the first new GPU to appear (and probably the easiest one to get for such a legendary leaker), considering it was just a month ago. So it’s quite obvious these slides are fakes. Especially because the leaker did not provide a single proof of owning such processors (not even a blurry photo, while they are really good at it).

Nvidia-GM200-TItan-2-AMD-Fiji- Nvidia-GM200-TItan-2-AMD-Fiji-Bermuda

Fake 2: Radeon R9 390X (Quad-CF) benchmark

Few weeks later, and we have another ‘leak’ coming from Chiphell. This time the ‘leaker’ was dumb enough to post a picture of the PCB as a proof. First he posted a benchmark score of Radeon R9 390X (although 3DMark does not recognize names of unreleased GPUs even days before the launch). Not only that, he claimed to have four of such graphics cards (because why not?). It look me only 30 minutes to find the exact same PCB he posted as R9 390X, but it turned out to be Radeon HD 7970..

chiphell fake 1 fake vs 7970pcb


We still don’t know whether Fiji or Bermuda is the new flagship GPU. Nor do we know if R9 390X is the fastest single-core graphics card in Radeon R9 300 series. All we know for sure is that AMD is planning a new product launches in the next few months.

The new listing in Norwegian store and C8xx board going through certification process may indicate Radeon 300 series happening sooner than we all expect.

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