AMD Radeon Pro 400 Series Formally Announced After Debut in MacBook Pro 2016

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AMD Radeon Pro 400 Series Formally Announced After Debut in MacBook Pro 2016
Highlights
  • Apple announced the Radeon Pro 400 series of GPUs before AMD did
  • The new GPUs are geared more for professional graphics work than gaming
  • No use cases other than the MacBook Pro 2016 have been announced yet

AMD has formally released details of its new Radeon Pro 400-series GPUs, which were unknown when Apple announced them as part of the specifications rundown for its newly refreshed MacBook Pro line. The new GPUs are targeted more at creative professional work than gaming, and are designed to be extremely power efficient, which is in line with Apple's direction for its latest products.

There are three models in the lineup: the Radeon Pro 450, 455, and 460. The former two are offered with 2GB of VRAM as standard on the two base configurations of the 15-inch MacBook Pro model, although the Radeon Pro 460 can be configured as a custom option on either, with 4GB of VRAM. 

AMD says that the new Radeon Pro GPUs are based on its current-generation Polaris architecture, with the same basic components seen in the desktop Radeon RX 480, 470 and 460. The GPUs also use the 14nm FinFET fabrication process, which delivers power and cost savings thanks to reduced transistor size compared to AMD's previous generation products. More significantly, the company says it has employed an elaborate new technique called die thinning, which has resulted in the thickness of each silicon wafer coming down from 780nm to 380nm - roughly equivalent to the thickness of four sheets of paper.

The GPUs all operate at 35W, which allows for quiet and efficient cooling within a chassis as thin as that of the new MacBook Pro. Peak performance for the three models ranges from 1 Teraflop to 1.85 Teraflops, which is far below that of even the entry-level Radeon RX460. Combined with the relatively low amount of VRAM, it is unlikely that current-day games will run well at even medium quality settings. 

Radeon Pro series products benefit from custom drivers with specific validations for professional software packages, as well as support for workflow tools including AMD ProRender which leverages the GPU to accelerate programs such as Maya, Cinema 4D, 

AMD first used the Radeon Pro name for its desktop Radeon Pro Duo graphics card, which was announced in March this year and launched in April. It uses two of AMD's Fiji GPUs, which are otherwise used in the company's Radeon R9 Fury and Nano series cards. It was targeted at professional VR content creators. A version for mainstream gaming was rumoured at the time but has not since been launched. AMD also announced a Radeon Pro WX series of Polaris-based workstation GPUs, and the Radeon Pro SSG with an onboard SSD which can be used as giant, low-latency caches for massive workloads, which has not shipped yet.

We discussed everything you need to know about the new MacBook Pro on Orbital: The Gadgets 360 Podcast. You can either subscribe via iTunes or RSS or just hit the play button below.

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Jamshed Avari

Jamshed Avari has been working in tech journalism as a writer, editor and reviewer for over 13 years. He has reviewed hundreds of products ranging from smartphones and tablets to PC components and accessories, and has also written guides, feature articles, news and analyses. Going beyond simple ratings and specifications, he digs deep into how emerging products and services affect actual users, and what marks they leave on our cultural landscape. He's happiest when something new comes ...More

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