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article imageAMD's RX 480 is a $200 graphics card to make VR affordable

By James Walker     Jun 1, 2016 in Technology
AMD has given the world its first look at its new series of graphics cards based on its Polaris architecture. The range is led by the Radeon RX 480, a card capable of playing virtual reality games for just $199, offering exceptional value for money.
After several years of largely trailing behind rival NVIDIA, AMD today announced the RX 480, the first graphics card to use the Polaris architecture. Details on Polaris and its manufacturing process remained vague at the launch event at Computex 2016 in Taiwan today with AMD primarily concentrating on stunning PC gamers with its new budget hero.
The RX 480 is designed to compete with NVIDIA's GTX 1070, a card that also firmly targets people who want to experience virtual reality. The GTX 1070 retails for around $400 though, double the price of an RX 480. You could buy a pair of RX 480s for not much more than the cost of a single GTX 1070. In that configuration, the AMD duo would comfortably overpower the single NVIDIA.
The card is based on AMD's new 14nm FinFET manufacturing process. It features five teraflops of performance driven by 36 compute units. It will be available with either 4GB or 8GB of video memory and draws just 150W of power, significantly less than current AMD cards.
According to AMD, the RX 480 will be able to deliver a virtual reality gaming experience comparable to that offered by $500 rivals. The company wants to reduce the entry cost to virtual reality to accelerate the pace of development in the industry. You'll still need to buy an expensive VR headset but now the computer to drive it will retail for significantly less.
"VR is the most eagerly anticipated development in immersive computing ever, and is the realization of AMD's Cinema 2.0 vision that predicted the converge of immersive experiences and interactivity back in 2008," said Raja Koduri, senior vice president and chief architect of AMD's Radeon Technologies Group. "As we look to fully connect and immerse humanity through VR, cost remains the daylight between VR being only for the select few, and universal access for everyone. The Radeon RX Series is a disruptive technology that adds rocket fuel to the VR inflection point, turning it into a technology with transformational relevance to consumers."
AMD is yet to reveal any meaningful performance data on the new card. It is expected to outperform its own $329 Radeon R9 390 though, despite appearing inferior on the spec sheet. The RX 480's power is being provided by the architectural improvements offered by Polaris, letting AMD make more efficient graphics cards that consume less energy and deliver greater performance.
Analysis by PC hardware site AnandTech suggests the RX 480 is likely to sit between the R9 390 and R9 390X for performance. For comparison's sake, the 390X is a card with a $429 price tag that draws up to 275W from the wall.
The RX 480's extraordinarily low retail price for its performance and low power draw are likely to turn it into one of the most popular cards on the market. It will be available from June 29, setting new standards for $200 gaming experiences on launch hardware. As always with new chips, supply shortages could drive the price up though, as often happens with processor and graphics card launches.
More about Amd, amd radeon, amd polaris, Vr, Virtual reality
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