AMD’s gaming scientist Richard Huddy on the firm’s 300-Series graphics cards and more

After revealing its Project Quantum gaming concept box, saying it could be one of the highest performing PCs on the planet, AMD is continuing to surprise. Dominic Sacco asks gaming scientist Richard Huddy about the firm’s tech…

Why should system builders power their machines with AMD’s new 300-Series (Fiji) graphics cards?

There’s a real appetite for the new cards, particularly around the opportunity for small form factor graphics cards. The Fiji is clearly very attractive to consumers, because it lets us play in PCs where we couldn’t get in before – and deliver a real performance experience. If you take a Fury, particularly a Fury Nano, you can build that into something which is very close to the standard media PC, and an HD PC, which is perfect.

The other thing is that if you take something like the Fury X where we built the reference cards with radiator coolers and liquid cooling built in, it can easily fit into a PC and make it beautifully quiet. These two opportunities – both quiet enthusiast PCs or something more media-centric, smaller and living room friendly – are great advances.

How can HBM tech push the PC gaming sector forwards?

The difference it makes in terms of power efficiency for our GPUs is extraordinary. It all comes down to the fact that we don’t have a lot of hot memory chips clustered around our GPU, all of which need extra cooling as well. Instead, the memory is on the same package, it’s stacked up.

It also delivers about 50 per cent more bandwidth than the fastest GDDR5 cards. And this is only the first iteration – we’ll come to market next year with HBM 2 and stuff like that. And just like FreeSync, we’re driving it through an industry standard, so anyone can pick it up.

Speaking of your FreeSync monitors, do you think their prices will continue to fall, and what kind of demand do you expect to see compared to Nvidia’s G-Sync displays?

We’ll watch the demand. I’m personally optimistic about it and I think it will help us to grow marketshare. In terms of it continuing down the same path of being pretty inexpensive, the answer is yes. There’s no justification for a substantial extra price tag, whereas with G-Sync there is justification, and that hurts the consumer.

Nvidia charges a license fee for it – and there’s an extra piece of hardware in there that has to be supplied which is quite different from the standard scaler. And the vendor has to pass on both of these costs on to the consumer. That simply isn’t the case in FreeSync setups.

AMD revealed its Project Quantum gaming PC at E3. Can you tell us more about this, maybe the launch date, price and operating system?

I can’t. For us it was a concept PC and that’s really important. It’s got a base of 10 inches by 10 inches and the total volume of the machine is just eight litres. A box as small as that could be one of the highest performing PCs on the planet. It’s also because it’s completely liquid cooled, it’s going to be super quiet as well. But it is a concept PC.

The interest we got immediately after E3 was very high. I would think that if we have the right kind of conversations with different OEMs, then we might well turn it into a real product. If that’s the case, maybe only one or a handful of PC manufacturers would potentially bring that to the market.

Will 8K gaming take off?

It will do, I’ve got no doubt about that, but we’re a little while from it. We’re only just at the stage where we can run a 4K display at a reasonable refresh rate. If you want to run a high-end game on a 4K display, then you need a couple of Fury Xs or something comparable. Now if you’re going to go for 8K gaming, you’re going to have to double up the pixels in both width and height – four times as much horsepower is going to be needed.

How do you envisage PC gaming will evolve over the next 12 months?

Hopefully everyone will be buying Fury Xs and Furys, so everyone will be in a state of pure ecstasy, but that’s me with the marketing hat on there. The best thing about PC gaming is it’s in such a healthy state. We have about seven billion people on the planet, and it’s widely estimated there are around 700 million people playing PC games – ten per cent of the world’s population. 66 million played League of Legends in the last month – around one per cent of the world’s population. So PC gaming is clearly in great condition.

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