Navi is finally entering the professional market. After several tasteless announcements on its Radeon Pro, AMD is finally back with the W5700 model. It takes advantage of the features of this range, combined with the advantages of the RDNA architecture and at 7 nm, but with some appreciable advantages. But is it worth for $ 799? Since the launch of the Radeon Instinct in 7nm and the Radeon VII, AMD didn't seem to really care about the professional graphics card market anymore. Only models based on Polaris have indeed been announced, the new pilots do not bring much new and we are still waiting for the unified one for the Radeon VII.
When announcing the RDNA architecture, the Navi generation GPUs and the Radeon RX 5700 (XT), Texan had been clear: this generation is made for gamers and 3D, not for computing. Understand: forget the idea of Radeon Instinct exploiting these chips or an adapted version of the RoCm software layer. But what about the Radeon Pro, targeting more traditional uses, such as 3D design, virtualization, etc? The answer was long overdue, but has just arrived with the announcement of the W5700.
A Radeon RX 5700 with many adaptations
Side characteristics, no surprises. This card reproduces almost in detail those of the Radeon RX 5700. 36 groups of computing units (ie 2,304 in total), 8 GB of GDDR6, a bandwidth of 448 GB/s. There is nevertheless a first detail which evolves: the maximum frequency of the GPU. It goes from 1725 MHz on an RX 5700 to 1930 MHz on a W5700. Enough to display a maximum computing power of 8.89 TFLOPS (FP32). But the average value is according to AMD rather in the 1630 to 1880 MHz depending on the case, against 1625 MHz of "Game Frequency" for the consumer version. On the other hand, the base frequency is down: 1,183 MHz against 1,465 MHz on the RX 5700. Management therefore quite different, which serves in-house marketing.
The TDP is revised upwards since it is 205 watts rather than 180 watts. But this is not primarily due to the potential frequency increase. The card integrates a USB Type-C port with Power Delivery. Perfect timing compared to the announcement of the Oculus Link, now available in beta.
Five mini-DPs and USB in a Radeon
This is not presented by AMD as a VirtuaLink, which is, as a reminder, a Type-C connector meeting a standard for virtual reality, with a modification of the pinout: the one normally reserved for USB 2.0 backward compatibility is rather used for an additional data stream. Here, we therefore have a classic USB 3.x connector, managing DisplayPort alt-mode. It can therefore be used for display as well as for a more classic accessory. The Texan obviously evokes VR headsets but also screens with a USB Type-C connector, as we now find.
On the other hand, the power supplied by this port is quite low compared to the possibilities of the Power Delivery standard, since it is limited to only 15 watts. As a reminder, the VirtuaLink of GeForce RTX climbs to 27 watts. Five other video outputs are present in mini DisplayPort 1.4 format. We appreciate a first finishing detail present here: the possibility of using connectors with a grip to prevent tearing. This is the case with adapters supplied by AMD with its card (2x DisplayPort, 1x DVI).
A first Radeon Pro based on Navi
The Radeon Pro W5700 has all the advantages of the brand's “blue” cards, such as 10-bit support or features specific to the professional market such as Image Boost or error correction management. Their coolers are also generally less noisy, as we had verified on the WX 7100/8200. Above all, they benefit from AMD's pilots intended for professional applications, with specific support and monitoring, a pilot being published each quarter. The manufacturer says it works specifically on optimizing performance over time, even if like in games, the biggest gains often come from bug fixes.
More precise functions are available for certain trades, such as the ProRender and ReLive engine which adapts to VR or Remote Workstation which allows remote use under reserved use of compatible servers and systems. A feature managed by Citrix Virtual Apps & Desktops and Microsoft RDS. Differences that come at a price: while the Radeon RX 5700 is available from 349 euros, this Pro W5700 is advertised by AMD at 799 dollars, all the same. It was expected to benefit from at least 16 GB of memory, such a difference being quite common for such products. This is not the case, we remain at 8 GB.
Based on a Navi 10 chip engraved at 7 nm and its 10.3 billion transistors on 251 mm². This Radeon W5700 is announced by AMD as much more efficient than the previous models. It is thus between the current WX 7100/8200 based on Polaris and Vega, but should approach or exceed the latter. Above all, it benefits from all of Navi's advances in its architecture with support for PCIe 4.0, its video engine in (de) compression, but not from hardware acceleration of ray tracing in rendering applications such as Quadro RTX. For this, we will have to wait for the next generation expected for 2020. The AMD also continues to highlight a case that would be particularly favorable to it against the Quadros: the CPU / GPU multitasking. A point on which we hope to come back in more detail in a future test.
Performance almost at the level of the Radeon VII
For the moment, we have been able to carry out some initial tests on a copy that was made available to us by AMD. We thus noted performance quite similar to a Radeon VII, yet equipped with 16 GB of HBM2 and a stronger GPU in theory (13.8 TFLOPS). Under SPECviewperf 13, it is the small news that wins narrowly, with a few details since the Radeon VII has trouble with snx-03 in particular as we had seen during our analysis. This is probably why AMD almost only puts forward this test in its communication.
But under Blender 2.80, the advance of the Radeon VII is notable, from 13 to 25%. We see even greater differences in favor of the Radeon VII under LuxMark 3.1 and 4.0, an OpenCL test very much in favor of the Vega architecture. There are gains of 40 to 70% depending on the case, with a result doubled in the Hotel Lobby scene. A big blow for the little news.
On the consumption side, the two cards benefiting from the 7nm, we see relatively little difference. We go from 42 to 39 watts at rest, the W5700 being the most economical. Ditto for load under Blender where we go from 212 to 207 watts. This, despite the difference in performance. If it is more efficient than the WX 7100/8200, not sure that this is always the case against the Radeon VII.