Radeon Pro Duo Updated To Polaris Architecture

👤by Tim Harmer Comments 📅24.04.2017 15:47:23

This time last year almost to the day the tech world was abuzz with news of a new high-performance graphics card from AMD - the Radeon Pro Duo. A monstrous card both in terms of performance and power requirements, it was based on the 28nm Fiji XT range but incorporated two huge GPUs and HBM memory on one PCB. Unfortunately its 350W TDP spoke to the enormous requirements of the card, and AMD narrowly marketed it towards VR application development rather than the more general professional development scene. Now, 12 months on, AMD are launching a new Radeon Duo Pro which they hope will take the development world by storm - and this time it's powered by Polaris.

The new Radeon Pro Duo (yes, AMD aren't going to be outdone by NVIDIA in the confusing names market) is based on the Radeon™ Pro WX 7100, one of the workstation-class range launched alongside desktop Polaris graphics cards in the prior 10 months. Critically these cards undergo more rigorous QA and are supported more comprehensively by AMD, including but not limited to driver software which is bespoke to the Pro range. Furthermore, as a new flagship and Pro card, it is fully tooled out for application development. AMD state that this is the first dual-GPU card tailored to professionals; we may quibble a little over it being the 'first' (what about last year's model?), but it has the specs to make developers take notice.

Most notable is the GPU core configuration: the Radeon Pro Duo PE has two Polaris GPUs each with 36 Compute Units (2304 shaders) for a total of 72 CUs per card. Harnessing that power adds up to a total of up to 11.45 TFLOPs, twice that of the Radeon™ Pro WX 7100 - a far cry from the >16 TFLOPs of the original Pro Duo but with a much more manageable 250W TDP and standard cooling solution. Raw performance is buttressed by 32GB GDDR5 VRAM, more than four times as much as a standard desktop Radeon RX 480/580 and a huge boon for developers who require massive frame buffers. According to AMD's internal testing the Radeon Duo Pro PE is also up to twice as fast as the NVIDIA TITAN X in specific benchmarks.

Two GPUs - Greater Flexibility

An aspect of the Radeon Pro Duo AMD are especially promoting is its two GPUs, and the ability to offload workloads on a per-GPU basis. This improved multi-tasking support could result in serious productivity gains where appropriate:

“I was very impressed with the power of the Radeon Pro Duo, particularly in Nuke. The flexibility of being able to divide GPUs between tasks is phenomenal and represents the ultimate in multitasking: compositing a complex shot while jumping into a 3D application to create assets, exporting back to Nuke to keep compositing then switching to Photoshop or Mari and paint a projection, to load it back into Nuke and continue. The Radeon Pro Duo handles the general and varied tasks without missing a beat with excellent 3D performance. For the kind of projects I undertake as a generalist, the Radeon Pro Duo is a no-brainer. It does it all.” - Kynan Stephenson, freelance artist.

Screen Real-estate and 8K60 Support

Not all Radeon Pro Duos will be crunching data 24/7, and so other features which unlock the creative output of professionals are necessary to keep the card competitive. One such is in multi-monitor support, where the Radeon Pro Duo can drive up to four 4K resolution panels at 60Hz, one 8K panel an 30 Hz, and even an 8K panel at 60Hz (the latter via a dual-cable output).

Virtual Reality Development

Once again the Radeon Pro Duo is expected to be a backbone of VR application development, leveraging two GPUs and AMD's LiquidVR technology to better balance performance on a per-eye basis. By dealing with vast amounts of raw, unoptimised game code performance requirements for professional environments is starkly higher than the consumer space, and with two Polaris GPUs the Radeon Pro Duo has it in spades.


Re-use of the name aside, the new Radeon Pro Duo has all the tools to be a big step forward over the previous generation. Even though performance is down power efficiency is significantly improved, and the card now sits comfortable within a standard 250W envelope. Furthermore the price is also likely to make it much more attractive - sitting at $899 it's $600 cheaper than its predecessor, a not inconsiderable sum even in professional circles.

The one fly in the ointment is the imminent launch of Vega, likely to coincide with Computex next month. Developers will not be ignorant of this, and may hold out until is becomes clear whether AMD plan to launch new professional-class cards with this architecture in the near future.

More information on Radeon Pro Duo can be found at Pro.Radeon.com. The card is being demonstrated this week at NAB 2027 in the following contexts:

• Professional color correction using BlackMagic Resolve powered by the new Radeon Pro Duo
• Incredible real-time 360 video stitching and real-time VR preview using Radeon™ Loom and the HTC Vive, and powered by the new Radeon Pro Duo
• Accelerated rendering performance in Blender using Radeon ProRender and “Out of Core” technology to access system memory for increased frame buffer capacity powered by the Radeon Pro Duo
• VR content creation using Radeon Pro Duo
• Real-time rendering at 4K resolution in Radeon ProRender powered by AMD's next-generation Radeon™ Pro SSG
• 8K video post-processing in Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2017 enabled by AMD's next-generation Radeon™ Pro SSG
• Stunning VR experiences from Rewind and The Foundry's Nuke running on Radeon™ Pro WX 7100

Demonstrations are available at the AMD booth at the Las Vegas Convention Center, South Lower Hall, #SL7620.

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