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.

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HardOCP: We hear that CrossFire and multi-GPU configurations "are dead" on the desktop. What are your feelings about that? It seemed that mGPU was one of the big things that DX12 was going to deliver and we have yet to see that happen.

Scott Herkelman: My opinion is that gamers should always buy the best single GPU they can afford. I wouldn’t say that multi-GPU is dead, it’s just very hard for game developers to implement properly, and takes them a considerable amount of effort to execute and optimize for it when they launch a game. With multi-GPU PCs being a very small portion of the gaming PC population, it’s a difficult return on investment decision game developers need to make.

HardOCP: Will the Radeon VII be launched for sale with a game bundle? If so, what games are those?

Scott Herkelman: Yes. For a limited time, gamers will get free copies of Devil May Cry 5, The Division 2, and Resident Evil 2 when purchasing Radeon VII graphics card or an Radeon VII powered PC. Gamers should go to AMD.com for details.

HardOCP: Will overclocking be supported on the Radeon VII?

Scott Herkelman: Overclocking is supported and we look forward to see how gamers can push this GPU using Radeon Software.

HardOCP: The AMD fan base is super excited about the upcoming Navi architecture. Can you share anything about Navi with us today that we might not already know?

Scott Herkelman: Navi is on track and we are super excited to tell you more about it in 2019.

HardOCP: Will we see AIB Radeon VII cards for sale at launch of will this be an all AMD "reference" card launch? Will AMD be selling variants of the Radeon VII, or just a single SKU?

Scott Herkelman: This will be an all-AMD reference card at launch and we are only announcing this configuration. We’ve chosen 16GB so that gamers and creators have a GPU that will be able to handle a variety of resolutions and workloads for today's most demanding applications and in the future.

HardOCP: Is the Radeon VII a true "Vega20" GPU? Beside the smaller process, what improvements are in the new Vega vs the old one? Can we get full specs?

Scott Herkelman: Yes, Vega20 is the underlying architecture for this product. We made some surgical enhancements to the Vega architecture to scale to frequencies on 7nm. We also increased the memory interface from 2048 to 4096 bits, all while reducing the footprint from 495mm2 to 331mm2 and we are super happy with the results. This chart shows the full Radeon VII specs:

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HardOCP: The enthusiast community has been very excited about more games showing up to market with Vulkan API support. What are your thoughts on its adoption in the industry?

Scott Herkelman: Vulkan is a unique API that is supported by many different hardware vendors, across multiple gaming platforms. It has seen progress on Windows, Linux, and Android, and is an easy way for developers to take advantage of modern GPUs in a wide variety of devices, from PCs and consoles to mobile devices. We expect greater adoption over the next few years, as vendors improve Vulkan support, more documentation is available for developers, and more cross-platform opportunities arise.

HardOCP: Jensen Huang made some very ugly statements directed at the new Radeon VII over at PC World. What is your reaction to this?

Scott Herkelman: We believe in open competition and letting our products speak for themselves. AMD is emphatically entering the high-end GPU market with Radeon VII and we are going to continue to focus on this area. Apparently our competition is paying attention!

Radeon VII is built on the most advanced process technology in the world. It also has 16GB of 1TB/s memory bandwidth, which is a breakthrough for gaming GPUs, provides an amazing gaming experience and comes with three free copies of the most anticipated games of 2019. And, we just announced that one of these games, Ubisoft’s The Division 2, will support all Radeon VII technology features. The new high-end GPU has the features, performance and capabilities gamers and creators can take advantage of today. All this for $699 is an incredible value.

HardOCP: Do you have any direct response to his remarks which were very pointed at RT, AI, and VRR. What are your thoughts on "It just works," or does it?

Scott Herkelman: Regarding adaptive sync, NVIDIA adopting support for FreeSync is another big win for gamers and a testament to AMD's leadership position in technology and feature proliferation through open and tax free standards.

Ray tracing has been around for a long time, and it is true that a proper implementation of ray tracing is exciting for the future of games, digital creation and entertainment. In the professional space we’ve supported ray tracing for quite some time. GPUs need a tremendous amount of horsepower for ray tracing to become relevant in real time and so that it doesn’t significantly impact the gameplay experience. Also, game developers and creators need a way to easily implement the technology.

The truth is that there are very few games today that use RTX and DLSS. So I don’t think Nvidia is able to meaningfully compare those features to anything in Radeon VII

We were pleased that Ubisoft announced that The Division 2 will support all Radeon VII technology features and we are working with many other developers as well.

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A big thanks to Scott for taking time to answer some of our Radeon VII questions! If you like our content, please support HardOCP on Patreon.

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