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EU could bar sales of power hungry graphics cards

by Mark Tyson on 16 October 2012, 14:30

Tags: AMD (NYSE:AMD), NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA)

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The European Commission (EC) released a document concerning the electronic Eco-Design Requirements of Personal Computers and Computer Monitors at the end of last week. It’s a long 325 page technical publication which was brought to the attention of Nordic Hardware by a “high level employee” at AMD. The reason for the tip was that the proposals within the EU document could, in the name of efficiency, limit the availability of the next generation of graphics cards from AMD and NVIDIA to the decent simple folk of Europe.

The new law proposed in the EU seeks to make sure computers live up to energy efficiency standards just like your fridge or washing machine. Graphic cards are under particular scrutiny as they can be particularly power thirsty. Nordic Hardware reveals the seven graphic card categories used by the EC system; from G1 to G7. The system ties a GPU bandwidth figure to a maximum energy use figure. If a graphics card with a particular bandwidth exceeds its energy use ceiling, then it isn’t up to EU energy efficiency standards and could be removed from sale in the EU.

Of most concern to 3D graphics enthusiasts will be the top end G7 classification. G7 cards have 192-bit or wider memory busses and a bandwidth of 128 GB/s or more. “The commission wants to stop dedicated graphics cards of group G7 from going above 320 GB/s - that is in theory a memory bus at 384-bit connected to memory operating at 6667 MHz or 512-bit with 5001 MHz. This is definitely within reach for the next generation graphics cards. Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition currently has a bandwidth of 288 GB/s with a 384-bit memory bus and 6000 MHz memory. For notebooks the limit will be only 225 GB/s,” explains Nordic Hardware.

AMD has told Nordic Hardware that current designs; such as the Cape Verde and Tahiti - Radeon HD 7700 and Radeon HD 7900 devices are beyond the spec allowed by the Eco Design Requirements. Energy efficiency is good but sales of the top end power hungry enthusiast graphic cards are a relatively small part of the PC market. As long as the rest of the world remains sensible this shouldn’t impact bleeding-edge graphic card development.

N.B. the Eco-Design PDF linked to does not contain the Graphic Card classification details, that part of the document has only been seen by industry insiders such as AMD, Dell and HP.



HEXUS Forums :: 19 Comments

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From the comments section in the article.

Yeah, they've posted the wrong link (it's an outdated preliminary study), the actual draft of the policy is here: http://www.eup-network.de/fileadmin/user_upload/Computers-Draft-Regulation-subject-to-ISC.PDF [eup-network.de]

Now it should be mentioned that whoever wrote this article fails horribly at basic reading comprehension/is trying to grab attention by spewing sensationalist BS because the draft is BEING MISINTERPRETED HORRIBLY. THERE IS NO MENTION OF ACTUALLY TRYING TO LIMIT THE TOTAL POWER CONSUMPTION OF GPUS OR PERFORMANCE, THEY'RE JUST CATEGORISING THEM INTO DIFFERENT PERFORMANCE GROUPS AND SETTING REASONABLE LIMITS FOR IDLE/SLEEP POWER DRAW FOR EACH CATEGORY.

Perfectly reasonable if you ask me, it can only benefit the end user if their devices aren't being horribly inefficient when they're not actually putting all their resources to use. Apart from that they're also seeking to enforce the 80+ bronze standard for PSUs, another thing that actually benefits the consumer.
Its simple. More of this nonsense and NVidia's dream will come true - cloud computing for everyone. While I run my PC on 400W tops and not too happy with that - my kettle runs at 3000W and no one in the house cares. Cap the memory bandwidth? The what? For what reason? So when we move to 10nm or less and 4k displays our PCs will suck and we will have no choice but to head to cloud gaming.. Don't get me wrong, cloud computing is the way to go - just leave some room for enthusiasts. US gets all the lowest prices and highest energy demands per capita and what we do here in EU? Drown in regulations..
edvinasm
Cap the memory bandwidth? The what? For what reason?

There is no plan to cap the memory bandwidth.
kalniel
There is no plan to cap the memory bandwidth.

“The commission wants to stop dedicated graphics cards of group G7 from going above 320 GB/s“

That sounds like a cap to me.

Anyway, it seems a little excessive going to all this effort in compiling the report when you consider the number of these cards that are actually in use, not everyone has a monster GPU. Having said that though a little extra efficiency would be nice.


Edit: Nevermind, I'v just seen Cat-the-Fifth's post
douglasb
“The commission wants to stop dedicated graphics cards of group G7 from going above 320 GB/s“

That sounds like a cap to me


It sounds like something similar to 'cap' but with an additional character to me ;) Look at the draft policy - the final category (D/G7) is greater than or equal to 192bit. That is not a cap.

Further more, if you have a powerful computer, with greater than 320 GB/s bandwidth (among other factors) not only is it not capped, you are exempt from the classifications for a while:

Category D desktop computers and integrated desktop
computers meeting all of the following technical parameters are
exempt from the requirements specified in points 1.1.1 and
1.1.2:
(a) a minimum of six physical cores in the central processing
unit (CPU); and
(b) discrete GPU(s) providing total frame buffer bandwidths
above 320 GB/s; and
(c) a minimum 16GB of system memory; and
(d) a PSU with a rated output power of at least 1000 W.


When they then do apply, you just fit into the same cat D/G7 as the rest of them, which is, to be honest, plenty of power.