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AMD Brings Radeon PRO W6000 Series GPUs to Mac Pro

AMD brings its next-gen RDNA2 Architecture Radeon Pro GPUs to the Mac platform for the Apple Mac Pro workstation market.

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Yesterday AMD announced the availability of new AMD Radeon PRO W6000 series GPUs for the Mac Pro—Apple’s premier high-performance computer workstation.

In a surprise move, AMD’s new series of cards include the Radeon PRO W6800X, Radeon PRO W6800X Duo graphics card, and the Radeon PRO W6900X.

AMD RDNA2 for Mac

AMD had just recently announced its new Radeon PRO W6000 series “workstation-class” GPUs for the general PC computer market back in early June. That announcement saw AMD boast of superior performance-per-price ratios compared to NVIDIA’s RTX Quadro cards, particularly offering twice the graphics memory of the NVIDIA Quadro RTX 5000 card for nearly 400 USD less cost.

AMD PRO Radeon Mac

AMD’s RDNA2 Architecture features hardware-accelerated real-time ray tracing technology to rival NVIDIA’s RTX technology.

“We have developed the AMD Radeon PRO W6000X series GPUs to unleash professionals’ creativity and help them bring more complex and compute-intensive projects to life, from animating 3D film assets to compositing 8K scenes to game development,” says Scott Herkelman, corporate vice president and general manager, Graphics Business Unit at AMD.

“The new AMD Radeon PRO W6000X series is packed with remarkable energy efficiency, enhanced compute units, and a new visual pipeline, enabling Mac Pro users to do more in less time across a broad range of pro applications,” he adds.

AMD Radeon PRO W6800 Duo

AMD’s new RDNA2-based Radeon PRO W6800X Duo for Mac.

Built on a 7nm node manufacturing process, the new AMD Radeon PRO GPUs bring to the macOS platform AMD’s RDNA2 Architecture—a chip architecture that brings up to 65 percent more performance per watt over AMD’s early generation RDNA Architecture. The RDNA2 Architecture features dedicated Ray Accelerators for real-time ray tracing, a first for an AMD GPU. The specialized ray tracing hardware handles the intersection of rays and produces an order of magnitude increase in intersection performance compared to a software implementation alone. The Ray Accelerators are just one of several ground-breaking performance enhancements for AMD’s graphics architecture.

Radeon PRO 6000 Series for Mac Details:

  • AMD RDNA2 Architecture — the groundbreaking architecture first introduced at E3 in 2019 has finally arrived in the professional workstation market this June and now for the Mac Pro. RDNA2 features hardware-based Ray Accelerators (RAs) and there is one RA per Compute Unit (see below).
  • AMD Infinity Cache — up to 256MB (total) of last-level data cache integrated on the GPU die is designed to reduce latency and power consumption
  • AMD Infinity Fabric — Provides a high-bandwidth, low latency, a direct connection between local AMD GPUs, enabling high-speed GPU-to-GPU communications designed to satisfy today’s creative workloads. (this applies to Radeon PRO W6800X Duo card)
  • High-speed GDDR6 Memory — Up to 64GB of GDDR6 memory with up to 512 GB/s bandwidth provides ultra-fast transfer speeds to power data-intensive professional applications.

The three-card options are detailed out below:

AMD Radeon PRO W6800X 

  • 32GB of GDDR6 memory with 512/GB/s memory bandwidth
  • 60 compute units
  • 3840 stream processors
  • 16 TF (32-bit) / 32 TF (16-bit)
  • (see more details here)

AMD Radeon PRO W6900X

  • 32GB of GDDR6 memory with 512/GB/s memory bandwidth
  • 80 compute units
  • 5120 stream processors
  • 22.2 TF (32-bit) / 44.4 TF (16-bit)
  • (see more details here)

AMD Radeon PRO W6800X Duo

  • 64GB of GDDR6 memory with 512/GB/s memory bandwidth
  • 120 compute units (60 per W6800X GPU)
  • 7680 stream processors (combined)
  • 30.2 TF (32-bit) / 60.4 TF (16-bit)
  • (see more details here)

To learn more about AMD’s W6000X series GPUs for the Mac Pro please visit this page here.

Pricing and Availability

The new AMD RDNA2 Architecture-based Radeon PRO W6000X series cards are available to configure on the Apple Mac Pro workstation. Up to four Radeon PRO W6800X GPUs can be configured in a new Mac Pro using the Apple MPX Modules.

Mac Pro with AMD Radeon PRO W6900X

Mac-based professionals now have AMD’s new RDNA2 based Radeon PRO W6000X series GPUs for configuration inside the Mac Pro. The option shown above is for 2 – AMD Radeon PRO W6900X GPUs. Now the Mac platform has AMD hardware-based real-time Raytracing technology and a lot more for fewer costs than NVIDIA RTX cards.

Let’s look at these cards in terms of base-pricing and work ourselves up through these new cards. If you go to the Apple Store and start with the base price Mac Pro it begins at 5,999 USD. This machine is equipped with an AMD Radeon PRO 580X with 8GB of GDDR5 memory.

To upgrade to the new AMD Radeon PRO W6800X with 32GB of GDDR6 memory the price upgrade is 2,400 USD. Adding another one doubles the price essentially and a wee bit more to 5,200 USD. Adding a Radeon PRO W6900X GPU with 32GB of GDDR6 memory—a card formation that was not released back in June when AMD introduced the new RDNA2-based Radeon PROs—will cost you 5,600 USD. Adding two of those units essentially doubles the price. You can explore more price configurations, such as two Radeon PRO W6800X Duos set via the Apple MPX Modules for a combined total of 4 GPUs. Explore here.

Architosh Analysis and Commentary

The Mac-based workstation market has had a tough going of it since the failure of the 2013 Mac Pro. From the 2009 – 2012 perior and then up to 2019, there was nearly a decade-long vacancy of Apple putting in serious attention to the professional markets with a machine worthy of pro users. The one major company that was carrying about Mac professionals, however, was AMD and is Mac graphics division. They put out several GPUs aimed at Mac pros utilizing the 2009 – 2012 Mac Pro computers. We last reviewed such a card back in 2013. 

Now since the revival of Apple’s interest in pro markets and it’s stunning 2019 Mac Pro, AMD has had several GPU options for users. (a complete listing of GPUs for Mac Pros can be found here). One thing that it has not had is hardware-accelerated real-time ray tracing—something to match up against NVIDIA’s RTX technology. While RTX technology has been out for a few years (debuted in August 2018), a year ago the industry was still at a loss for what AMD’s plans were to match its rival. This isn’t to say this is AMD’s first GPU that can do ray tracing. AMD’s Radeon ProRender, aimed at the pro markets delivered targeted, professional real-time ray-tracing and did so months before NVIDIA RTX. But that technology never really took off, outside of some companies like Maxon which tapped into it. 

Hardware-accelerated real-time ray tracing has become an important technology in the pro markets—including AEC where a plethora of interactive renderers have hit the market over the past several years (Lumion, Enscape, Twinmotion, LumenRT, etc). A lot of these tools tap the power of NVIDIA RTX. AMD now has a powerful equivalent technology and will need to court pro developers to like this to boost and excite users in the AEC space, particularly those dedicated to rendering tasks.

Meanwhile, these new cards are sure to boost performance over the prior AMD Vega II and Vego PRO II GPUs in the previous Mac Pro lineup. Mac pro applications like Final Cut Pro, Cinema 4D, Octane X, DaVinci, Resolve and many others are already taking advantage of AMD GPUs. Real-time ray tracing aside, these new AMD GPUs provide great value for the dollar with their exceptional memory configurations. 

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