This article is going to be very speculative. With more and more details about polaris becoming available I think I might have unlocked AMD’s marketing plan. Let me tell you it’s quite deep.
First things First. AMD has always been fond of the stars in the sky. They started this path way back in the AMD 10h family cpu’s (Phenom)days. Ok so, AMD loves stars and Polaris is a continual usage of that lineage. Polaris is actually the name of the North Star. More interesting there is actually 3 different stars associated with Polaris. You have Polaris Aa, Polaris Ab, and Polaris B. Next, we know that AMD’s High end gpu’s are code named Vega. Vega just so happens to be the name of the 5th brightest star in the sky.
Making sense of this?
Well it doesn’t make much sense until you start to look at the apparent magnitude of the stars. Vega is the 5th brightest star in the sky. Polaris is close to the 50th. Ok , starting to make sense as we know that Vega is expected to be faster than Polaris. Most would leave it at that, but as Nvidia has given information about its next generation Geforce cards the 1080 and the 1070. Based on what we know about Polaris it just doesn’t seem like it could ever begin to stack up to these cards. Combine that with AMD keeping very tight lipped about their upcoming cards this only reinforces the rumor mill stories. We have seen it all from bad to good.
What we do know. AMD has presumably two different dies. Polaris 10, and Polaris 11. However there are multiple stars that can be identified by Pole Stars or where Polaris is currently located. Ok so back to how bright these stars are. You have Polaris A (UMi Aa) with an apparent magnitude of 1.97v. Then have Kochab (UMi, β Ursae Minoris) 2.08v, Pherkad (Gamma Ursae Minoris) 3.05v, Polaris Ab (UMi Ab) 9.2v, and Polaris B(UMI B) at 8.7v The brighter a star appears in the sky the lower the value will be*
Ok so what?
Well this is where things really get interesting. We talked about star magnitude (how bright it is). However Polaris is a variable star, meaning its brightness can vary. How much you say? well according to wiki “Research reported in Science suggests that Polaris is 2.5 times brighter today than when Ptolemy observed it, changing from third to second magnitude” wait a second that number looks familiar. Amd has promised 2.5 times the performance per watt on these new cards! Ok coincidence? wait a second oh it gets better. Some more interesting info comes from the star Kochab.
“Kochab(UMi, β Ursae Minoris) and its neighbor Pherkad served as twin pole stars, circling the North Pole, from 1500 BC until 500 AD. Ancient Egyptian astronomers referred to them as “The Indestructibles”.Neither star was as proximitous to the celestial north pole as Polaris is now. Today, they are sometimes referred to as the “Guardians of the Pole.” Due to precession of the equinoxes, the previous holder of the title was Thuban, and the next was the present-day Polaris. This succession of pole stars is a result of Earth’s precessional motion.”
So why Kochab and Pherkad?. First they were both pole stars in the past. Secondly they are in the same constellation as polaris. (The little dipper) Lastly they are about the same brightness.
Ok so let’s talk about the possible variants based on this knowledge. Performance should be comparable to the stars brightness
Polaris 10- Polaris A (UMi Aa) 1.97v (Full die, GDDR5x,)
Polaris 10- Kochab(UMi, β Ursae Minoris) 2.08v (Full die, GDDR5) not part of polaris cluster, but was a pole star in the past, part of Ursa minor
Polaris 10- Pherkad (Gamma Ursae Minoris) 3.05v (Disabled Compute Units, Gddr5)not part of polaris cluster, but was a pole star in the past, part of Ursa minor
Polaris 11- Polaris Ab (UMi Ab) 8.7v (Full die, GDDR5)
Polaris 11-Polaris B(UMI B) 9.2v (Disabled Compute Units, GDDR5)
So why Polaris then if they could have chosen a different star name? Well when you are navigating you need to know where north is, and since Polaris happens to be the north star they started there.
What does this mean in terms of absolute performance? No one knows yet, but based on this information we could see 3 different variants of the Polaris 10 die, and 2 different variants of the Polaris 11 die. It also explains why AMD chose the name Polaris. It just ties in so beautifully to all the information they have released regarding these new cards. AMD’s marketing team dug deep to find something relative to them. Again I wanted to point out this information is speculative, and we won’t know for sure until AMD releases all their information.
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