AMD Rolls out the Radeon Pro W5700, Its First 7nm Graphics Card for Workstations
Andrew Wheeler posted on November 19, 2019 |
The AMD Radeon Pro W5700 graphics card. (Image courtesy of AMD.)

AMD has released its first 7nm graphics card for PC workstations, the AMD Radeon Pro W5700. The card was designed by AMD and is being manufactured by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). Hints of the Radeon Pro W5700 graphics card for workstations have been coming in bits and pieces for a few years.

The AMD Radeon Pro W5700 runs on AMD’s RDNA microarchitecture, which is intended to give engineers and designers more bang for their buck. Every engineer, whether running software on local hardware or in the cloud, can benefit from GPUs that deliver better performance with more efficient use of power.

The demand for products that are becoming increasingly complex requires powerful engineering software that can deliver complicated functionality. Design applications are not devoted to improving viewport quality. Traditional design applications like SOLIDWORKS and AutoCAD primarily focus on function over form, as they should. This leaves room to address a gap in visualization workflows that are becoming increasingly important for product design teams, architects and other CAD professionals.

To address this gap, a slight invasion is occurring in visualization. Encroaching on territory that was once the exclusive domain of traditional design workflows, gaming engines like Unity and Unreal Engine are increasingly used as real-time visualization tools in architecture (previews) and automotive (styling) workflows.

AMD Executed Well-Laid Plans for 7nm, but They Weren’t Alone

In August 2018, AMD announced the beginning of an exclusive manufacturing relationship with TSMC for the production of all future CPUs and GPUs. In January 2019, AMD unveiled the AMD Radeon VII, the world’s first 7nm gaming graphics card.

AMD is of course not the only company using TSMC’s 7nm processes. Apple and Huawei both released commercial chips in September 2019 that were manufactured using TSMC’s 7nm processes. Apple’s A13 Bionic chip for the iPhone 11 and Huawei’s HiSilicon Kirin 990 4G and 990 5G SoC (System on a Chip) are both 7nm.

What Does 7nm Mean Exactly?

“7nm” is simply a commercial name for a semiconductor manufacturing process achieved by way of lithography. It does not represent the actual geometry of the billions of transistors that are etched into CPUs, GPUs and SoCs.

7nm shows positive improvements over previous semiconductor manufacturing processes like 10nm, 14nm, and others. According to Gartner, when compared to 16nm/14nm, 7nm uses 65 percent less power and improves speed by 35 percent.

Bottom Line

For now, the 7nm Radeon Pro W5700 GPU for workstations is definitely a first, and it may be a hit. But its success may also depend on how well its price point is received. The Radeon Pro W5700 GPU starts at USD 799.

What’s next?

The design and production for using a 5nm process for semiconductor manufacturing is in the works for 2020- 2021 delivery.


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