Today's Hard|Forum Post
Today's Hard|Forum Post

AMD Radeon VII Interview with Scott Herkelman

We had the opportunity to talk to Scott Herkelman at AMD about the new Radeon VII GPU at CES 2019, and he was kind enough to answer questions that we had. We get his thoughts on the new Radeon VII, its full specifications and die size, FreeSync, multi-GPU, 16GB of HBM2, AMD getting back into direct retail sales of video cards, and more.

AMD Radeon VII Interview with Scott Herkelman

Scott Herkelman is Vice President and General Manager of the Radeon Gaming Business Unit at AMD. Scott goes way back in the GPU industry and has worked for VisionTek, BFG Tech, and NVIDIA over the last 18 years. He is also an actual gamer, as I can recall playing Quake deathmatch with him at a few LAN parties. He is now one of the people that is spearheading Radeon products and we had a few questions for him at CES 2019.


HardOCP: We know the community is very excited to see Radeon VII launched this week at CES 2019. Lisa Su did show us that Radeon VII was on performance parity with the RTX 2080 in a few gaming benchmarks. How is Radeon VII going to perform when we pull back and look at the bigger picture in gaming performance?

Scott Herkelman: We're excited to enter the high-end GPU market with Radeon VII and bring new levels of performance to our customers. For games, AMD Radeon VII will perform great in forward-looking APIs like DX12 and Vulkan. It should trade blows with RTX 2080 across the board. And in games like Battlefield 5 and the upcoming The Division 2 at 4K, we see memory usage going beyond 8GB. That’s why we included 16GB of HBM2 memory on Radeon VII.

For creative workloads, the GPU's 16GB memory is a substantial benefit vs. our competitor's 8GB offering, and with the compute horsepower it brings, creators will enjoy running their workloads faster without having to worry about memory size.

(HardOCP: We also went back through the AMD documentation that was put on line and analyzed all the data on RX Vega vs Radeon VII Benchmarks.)

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HardOCP: With Radeon VII, what are we looking like on TDP at full gaming loads?

Scott Herkelman: This card is rated for a maximum of 300W at full TDP.

HardOCP: Power connects for top end Radeon VII, 2 8-pin?

Scott Herkelman: Yes, Radeon VII has two 8-pin power connectors.

HardOCP: I personally was excited to see AMD going back to selling its video cards direct, much like it used to in the past. How exactly is this going to happen and will we be able to go directly to AMD.com and buy a new Radeon VII for MSRP?

Scott Herkelman: We have a large group of fans that asked us for the ability to purchase products directly from AMD, and we want to ensure they can get them for MSRP. When AMD Radeon VII is available on February 7, a limited number of regions will be able to buy the GPU on AMD.com. We hope to expand this more broadly in time.

HardOCP: Is the model we saw Lisa Su holding up on stage at CES 2019 going to be representative of the retail Radeon VII?

Scott Herkelman: The reference card we showed on stage at CES with three axial fans will be the finished design users can purchase on AMD.com, and from leading e-tailers, our AIB partners and inside the Dell Alienware 51 system.

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HardOCP: While we have not tested the Radeon VII yet, we do think this will be AMD’s first push into "real" 4K gaming. How important is 4K gaming to AMD right now?

Scott Herkelman: For AAA gaming, all premium resolutions are important, including both 4K and the newer ultra-wide 1440p resolutions. These resolutions allow us to get even closer to how game developers want gamers to see their games. It’s quite interesting actually, when we visit our game developer partners, they build the worlds in their games at super high resolutions, but then have to scale it down for playability. A lot of gamers want to see and play the game in the highest fidelity possible, so we are very focused on delivering that experience. It all comes down to GPU horsepower and, as you will find, Radeon VII delivers great results, as we showed on stage with Devil May Cry 5.

HardOCP: Does Radeon VII support the HDMI 2.1 specifications fully in hardware? Anything new in terms of FreeSync 2 / VRR that our readers need to know about? Will we see support launched with Radeon Software Adrenalin on February 7th? Is there anything new that HDMI 2.1 will bring to Radeon VII owners (4k 144hz FreeSync 2 w/ hdr)? If not, can AMD release a DisplayPort to HDMI 2.1 adapter for use with those LG OLEDs this year?

Scott Herkelman: The Vega and Vega II family, including Radeon VII, natively supports HDMI 2.0 in hardware. We are looking at options for external DP to HDMI 2.1 translators, but have nothing to announce at this time.

HardOCP: Looking forward, what can you share with us about AMD’s GPU roadmap over the next couple of years, and how do you feel about the amount of R&D resources that will going into AMD’s GPU development program?

Scott Herkelman: What I can say is that we are more focused than ever on delivering top-to-bottom performance products for gamers in every segment. In the next few years this industry will look completely different, AMD’s goal is to be the leader in every gaming segment, from PCs to the cloud to consoles.

HardOCP: Lisa Su touched on content creation using desktop GPUs, and this is not something that we focus on much in our reviews. What can Radeon VII owners do with their GPUs in terms of content creation that they may not be familiar with?

Scott Herkelman: We’ve found that there is a large population of content creators using high-end gaming GPUs to run their creative workloads, while also using them to game in their free time. Radeon VII is the perfect GPU for this audience. These folks are typically in a small creative studio, a startup or even in school. They probably can’t afford workstation or datacenter GPUs that have a host of professional features and cost thousands of dollars, so they make do with what they can afford. They’re focused on workloads like 3D rendering, video editing and compute. Popular applications in this space include Blender, DaVinci Resolve and Adobe series products. If your audience is using these applications and has an older generation of GPU, they would see an immediate benefit by upgrading to Radeon VII.

I would like to get feedback from your readers and community on feature support and what we can do differently in the future. We are always listening and if there is an urgent need, we will definitely evaluate it.