First Radeon with High Bandwidth Memory will launch at E3 on June 16th

AMD Radeon R9 295X2 review fan
Updated 6/2/2015 8:43 PM: AMD has announced that its first card with HBM memory with launch on June 16th at E3.

Original text: Video card memory hasn’t fundamentally changed for over a decade. While manufacturers have leapt to quicker, newer hardware, the basic construction and layout of memory has stayed the same. That’ll soon change, however, with AMD’s introduction of High Bandwidth Memory.

AMD says it has been working on this advancement for about seven years. It started the project because its engineers predicted that growing RAM needs would increase the power draw of memory and increase the space memory takes on a card. Those predictions have proved mostly accurate, as GDDR5 is more power hungry, and the space memory takes on high-end cards like the AMD Radeon R9 290X or Nvidia Titan X is substantial.

amdhbm-slide1

AMD

HBM addresses the problem by stacking DRAM vertically, like a skyscraper. Each layer is a “floor,” rising upwards instead of across the card. In the middle of each station is a “through-silicon-vias” which acts like a series of elevator shafts, transferring data through each skyscraper to an interposer, which then can transfer data to other portions of a PC, most importantly the GPU.

Does this sound familiar? It might, because it’s somewhat similar to the V-NAND and 3D NAND technology used by Samsung and Intel, respectively, to build smaller solid state hard drives. With that said, though, there’s no direct link between those technologies and HBM – they’re merely similar takes on a common issue facing chip-based storage technology as capacities expand.

The construction of HBM does more than allow for greater memory density with lower power draw. It also changes the pathway between memory and the GPU. Because HBM stacks memory, each chip shares a single extremely broad, 1024-bit bus. This contributes to the power savings because a wide bus can transfer more data at a lower clock speed. It also should lead to an increase in overall memory bandwidth for AMD’s upcoming video cards.

amdhbm-slide2

AMD

To be clear, the numbers AMD is throwing about aren’t small. The company is claiming memory bandwidth per watt of power consumption will improve more than three-fold. In addition to that, the new strategy will decrease the size consumed by 1GB of GDDR5 from 672 millimeters squared to only 35 millimeters squared. That’s a 94 percent decrease!

amdhbm-slide3

AMD

These facts gel with the leaked AMD video card photos we’ve seen thus far. Those photos showed a high-end GPU that’s about two-thirds the size of most modern video cards, despite the fact its performance is likely to exceed AMD’s current high-end hardware.

Unfortunately the company wouldn’t confirm anything about upcoming video cards with HBM, other than to say they’re expected to hit the market within a few months. The technology will appear only on flagship cards to start, then trickle down. It’s also likely to appear in the company’s APUs, which combine a processor and Radeon GPU, but that won’t happen soon.

HBM could be a major, necessary advancement in memory technology. It’s no secret that video card size has been on the rise again as of late, and this strategy could reverse that trend. However, AMD is significantly behind Nvidia in overall performance-per-watt, and it’s not clear if HBM alone can close the gap. We’ll just have to wait and see what new hardware the red team has in waiting.

Product Review

Don't bother with any other 2-in-1. The Surface Pro 6 is still the best

The Surface Pro been updated to its sixth generation, now coming dressed in black and packing a quad-core processor. Outside of that, you’ll have to dig a little deeper to see where Microsoft has made some truly noteworthy improvements.
Computing

Leaked benchmarks suggest rumored AMD GPU could be king of midrange graphics

AMD's next GPU may not be Navi-based after all. Rumors continue to build about an RX 590 which has now shown up on 3DMark's benchmark database, delivering results that easily outstrip stock clocked GTX 1060s.
Computing

Which is best: The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme or the 15-inch MacBook Pro?

To try and help nail down the best 15-inch laptops in the world, we compared the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme vs. MacBook Pro 15 in a head to head that looked at their power, design, and portability.
Computing

Nvidia is slowly rolling out its next generation of GPUs. Here's what you need to know about them

Nvidia's new RTX 2000 series graphics cards are impressive pieces of hardware, with some amazing advancements and some rather high price tags to match. Here's everything you need to know about Nvidia's new top-tier cards.
Computing

The 5 budget rigs that prove PC gaming is for everyone

If you're looking for the best cheap gaming PCs you can buy, you have plenty of options. Our list of affordable gaming rigs includes the latest hardware from AMD and Nvidia, plus full support for VR headsets.
Computing

Microsoft co-founder, Seahawks owner Paul Allen dies at 65

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen died on October 15 of complications from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The cancer survivor was best known for his entrepreneurial spirit and his frequent contributions to charities.
Computing

Qualcomm’s ‘Snapdragon 1000’ could bring octa-cores to Windows laptops

The rumored Qualcomm Snapdragon 1000 CPU may bring the octa-core design of mobiles and tablets to Windows laptops, offering four powerful cores for high performance, and four low-power cores for efficiency.
Computing

How does Microsoft’s newest Surface stack up against the Apple iPad Pro?

In an era where everyone is taking a bite at Apple’s products, we’ve stacked up the 12.9-inch iPad Pro against the latest Surface Pro 6. Check out this comparison guide to see which one gives you more bang for your buck.
Emerging Tech

Curious how A.I. 'brains' work? Here's a super-simple breakdown of deep learning

What is deep learning? A branch of machine learning, this field deals with the creation of neural networks that are modeled after the brain and adept at dealing with large amounts of human-oriented data, like writing and voice commands.
Computing

Is the new Surface Pro 6 worth the extra money or is the Surface Go good enough?

Each of Microsoft’s Surface devices are great, but with the recent addition of the Surface Pro 6, you might be wondering how it stacks up against the Surface Go. In this comparison piece, we’ve put the two devices up against each other…
Computing

Is the Surface Pro 6 a sidestep, or does it blow away its predecessor?

How good is the new Surface Pro, and is it worth an upgrade? The best way to find out is to pit the Surface Pro 6 vs. Surface Pro 5 in a head to head that tests them both on performance, design, and portability.
Computing

These gloves will make virtual reality feel even more immersive

Scientists from EPFL and ETH Zurich have come up with a thin and light VR glove which makes it so that a touch of an object in the virtual world equates to the physical touch you would expect in real life.
Gaming

Apple Mac users should take a bite out of these awesome games

Contrary to popular belief, there exists a bevy of popular A-list games compatible for Mac computers. Take a look at our picks for the best Mac games available for Apple fans.
Emerging Tech

MIT is building a new $1 billion college dedicated to all things A.I.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has announced a new $1 billion college of computing designed to offer the best possible education to future machine learning A.I. experts.