Thanks to the further proliferation of 8Gb GDDR5 memory modules, we’ve seen an uplift over the last few months with the memory capacity of professional graphics cards. For the professional graphics market this is always a welcome development, as datasets are already massive and always growing, especially in the content creation field.

Due to various technical considerations – primarily a larger memory bus – over the past generation AMD has traditionally offered the highest capacity professional graphics cards, with the current FirePro W9100 topping out at 16GB. More recently, last month NVIDIA surpassed AMD with the launch of the 24GB Quadro M6000. However this week in advance of the 2016 NAB Show, AMD is firing back and retaking the top spot with their own capacity bump, updating the FirePro W9100 to 32GB.

AMD FirePro W Series Specification Comparison
  AMD FirePro W9100 (32GB) AMD FirePro W9100 (16GB) AMD FirePro W9000 AMD FirePro W8100
Stream Processors 2816 2816 2048 2560
Texture Units 176 176 128 160
ROPs 64 64 32 64
Core Clock 930MHz 930MHz 975MHz 824MHz
Memory Clock 5Gbps GDDR5 5Gbps GDDR5 5.5Gbps GDDR5 5Gbps GDDR5
Memory Bus Width 512-bit 512-bit 384-bit 512-bit
Double Precision 1/2 1/2 1/4 1/2
Transistor Count 6.2B 6.2B 4.31B 6.2B
TDP 275W 275W 274W 220W
Manufacturing Process TSMC 28nm TSMC 28nm TSMC 28nm TSMC 28nm
Architecture GCN 1.1 GCN 1.1 GCN 1.0 GCN 1.1
Warranty 3-Year 3-Year 3-Year 3-Year
Launch Price (List) $4999 $3999 $3999 $2499
Launch Date Q2 2016 April 2014 August 2012 July 2014

The updated FirePro W9100 takes off right where the previous model left off. Based around a fully enabled version of AMD’s Hawaii GPU, the specifications outside of memory capacity are unchanged. As for the memory itself, this update sees AMD replace their 4Gb GDDR5 chips with 8Gb chips, moving from a 32 x 4Gb configuration to a 32 x 8Gb configuration. Consequently any possible performance impact is data set size dependent. Performance essentially doesn’t change for data sets that fit within memory, while sets between 16GB and 32GB that were slow before because they didn’t fit on the card will now be able to be loaded in their entirety.

With their latest capacity bump, AMD becomes the first company to ship a 32GB pro graphics card, and consequently retakes their top spot in the market. At the same time AMD will have final bragging rights for this generation, as AMD and NVIDIA have now both maxed out the memory capacity of their current cards.

The 32GB FirePro W9100 will be launching this quarter through AMD’s usual distribution and OEM partners. The MSRP will be $4999, which is closely aligned to competitor NVIDIA’s own pricing, though also higher than the 16GB card it supplants. Meanwhile AMD will continue to ship the 16GB card as well, and while there isn’t a current MSRP attached to it, it’s currently available from retailers for around $3000.

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  • BMNify - Thursday, April 14, 2016 - link

    Now with things like this coming to GPUs, I'm still wondering why we still be hamstrung by these glorified set top boxes with 8GB of system memory with probably around 6 to 6.5 usable, maybe a game will use 7.8GB and will be a console exclusive to make under utilized gaming PCs (costing at least several hundred more than than console) artificially look like trash. Seriously, we're going to have people with gaming PCs with 16GB of RAM plus a GPU with 16GB of VRAM at the high end. These people will be hamstrung by all of those on weak integrated graphics or otherwise weak systems. No one gaming on PC wins.

    These console things are sorry excuses for gaming machines. They are the poorest value and have not moved gaming technology forward more than a fraction, I'm going to be sitting on a DirectX 13 (if that ever comes about) card, and AMD will be forced to release a "Mantle 2" software api to actually utilize proper gaming hardware again. This has been gaming generation of stagnation, no tech progression that, to me, is meaningful, I despise VR, so don't bother trying to hype me up for something that literally makes me sick. I guess the loss of my $1000+ gaming rig to a thunderstorm surge is no big deal anymore as there is nothing worth buying right now anyway. Still is rather annoying to only have this laptop left for my computer use. I don't really feel like dropping another thousand dollars on a desktop rig so soon.

    By the time I can rebuild, all new parts will be available for me to spend less, so I won't need to feel miserable that my rig is an outlier at several times the power of all current consoles, and is being undervalued, underutilized and outright disrespected by the very game developers who want to sell me their console game on PC that runs like garbage on my supposedly super powerful gaming rig because they didn't care enough to offer PC options.

    How can I be happy that this monstrosity is coming to PC. A cut down variant would be a 16GB VRAM card. Games barely even utilize the 4 and 8GB cards we have now. The new cards from AMD are probably going to range from low end 2GB all the way to 16GB just for VRAM. Maybe even a 32GB at the top end of the GPU line.

    I realize this a workstation card, but that doesn't mean that AMD doesn't have gaming GPUs coming that will have large amounts of VRAM. They most certainly do have HBM2 cards with large amounts of VRAM for them to use. I wonder what PC games will make actual use of the power of that plus a top end Zen or AM4 processor. Sigh.
  • Kutark - Thursday, April 14, 2016 - link

    "I realize this is a workstation card..."

    No, no I don't think you do understand that.

    There is so much /facepalm in this post it's actually mind boggling. In almost 20 years of being a PC hardware and gaming enthusiast, I have never been able to wrap my head around why people continuously create long ranting diatribes about workstation or enterprise hardware and apply that "logic" to gaming hardware to justify their ranting.

    You could have left it at the rant about consoles, which was perfectly justified and relatively accurate (as far as them holding back gaming by being outdated and frankly terrible hardware to begin with), but you had to go on, you couldn't just stop there.

    On a side note, why the hell didn't you have a surge protector?
  • Notmyusualid - Thursday, April 14, 2016 - link

  • Salvor - Thursday, April 14, 2016 - link

    I'm more surprised a reader of anandtech only spent $1k on their gaming rig, and isn't excited about the prospect of having an excuse to replace it.
  • Manch - Friday, April 15, 2016 - link

    Im surprised he called his 1K rig an outlier....
  • BrokenCrayons - Friday, April 15, 2016 - link

    It really is an outlier. If I recall the sales statistics out there, the majority of computers sold are priced at a much lower purchase price and are often used to play video games of one sort or another. While a total component and software cost of over $1K isn't considered very expensive among many people who build their own systems and take that sort of thing quite seriously, that chunk of people is a smaller portion of the total home computing market.
  • Manch - Friday, April 15, 2016 - link

    Fair enough but in the context of his post, he alluded to saying he built his rig. In the relatively small world of DIY gaming rigs I dont see a 1k rig as an outlier.
  • bpwnes - Saturday, April 16, 2016 - link

    who pays for software?
  • Samus - Sunday, April 17, 2016 - link

    LOL. True. I remember attending an Autodesk conference like...15 years ago when I was in college. The CEO at the time mentioned that around 85% of Autodesk software in the field is pirated and they are OK with that (echoing Adobe's stance) because the majority of that is people using it for non-profit, students, or generally cocking about (that was his exact quote) and that these people will hopefully move on to a business application where they will be obligated to purchase a legitimate product.

    That, in essence, is the RIGHT perspective for any software developer. How are people curious, or people who want to learn but cant afford to take classes, or even people who take classes but don't want the neutered/cant afford the student version, going to learn your expensive ass software without stealing it?
  • HollyDOL - Friday, April 15, 2016 - link

    I have to agree console games are a prison ball on the leg of PC gaming... partially

    The fact is developers these days greatly waste RAM and those console restrictions should force them to use it more effectively... I am not entirely convinced it really does though.

    Other than that there are plenty ways how more available RAM could be utilized (more loaded resources, pre-computation of stuff running on other available cpu cores, name it...) It won't happen until games are natively 64bit binaries due to 32bit address handling restrictions in 32bit processes.

    In workstation environment, that much RAM comes to a good use already. Like for example processing high resolution cinematic camera recordings... or, to that end, special effects studios, whose applications are whole level more demanding on resources...

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