In a much-expected move, AMD is filling out the high-end Radeon GPU stack with the Radeon R9 280 graphics card. This new GPU is a cut-down version of the R9 280X. Let's see how by examining the core specifications.
|GPU||Radeon R9 280X 3GB||Radeon R9 280 3GB||Radeon HD 7950 Boost 3GB|
|Launch date||October 2013||March 2014||August 2012|
|Approx Die Size (mm²)||352||352||352|
|GPU Clock (MHz)||1,000||Unknown||850|
|Boost clock (MHz)||1,050||933||925|
|Memory Clock (MHz)||6,000||5,000||5,000|
|Memory Bus (bits)||384||384||384|
|Max bandwidth (GB/s)||288||240||240|
|GFLOPS per watt||17.2||13.4||13.3|
What's clear here is that AMD is effectively rebranding the Radeon HD 7950 Boost card to the R9 280. Both GPUs are based on the Tahiti Pro die and are almost identical from a specification standpoint. The R9 280 can opportunistically boost a hair higher, to 933MHz vs. 925MHz, but everything else remains the same, including a 3GB framebuffer accessed via a 384-bit memory bus.
It is surprising to learn that R9 280 is debuting at $279, or just $20 below the better-equipped R9 280X, given that the near-identical Radeon HD 7950 Boost first came to market 18 months ago priced at $330 and laden with AMD-supplied games. The R9 280 is to be sold without an AMD gaming bundle.
The R9 280's higher-than-expected pricing may well be down to restricted supply and popularity of AMD GPUs for coin mining - a cursory examination shows the entire R9 range is now more expensive than at launch. As an example, retail R9 280X cards routinely fetch $450 at Newegg.
Performance-wise, the $279 Radeon is a good fit against the GeForce GTX 760 from Nvidia. Extrapolation from previous benchmarks suggest that AMD's card is likely to be a little faster than its price-comparable Nvidia counterpart.
AMD says there will be limited availability of retail R9 280 cards this week, followed by wider availability week commencing 10th March. Recent history suggests that AMD's stock projections may be a little too optimistic.