Spotted yesterday by Heise.de, AMD has silently lowered the specifications of the Radeon RX 560 to encompass parts with 14 CUs (896 Stream Processors), allowing them to be sold alongside standard 16 CU (1024 SP) parts. The net effect of this change is that it allows Radeon RX 460-level products to be sold as Radeon RX 560 cards.

With the RX 500 series Polaris family refresh, AMD based the Radeon RX 560 on a fully enabled Polaris 11 GPU, meaning all 16 of its CUs were active. By contrast, AMD never shipped a fully enabled Polaris 11 part under the 400 series (excluding the Macbook Pro specific Radeon Pro 460), so the RX 560 was a notable step up from the 14 CU Radeon RX 460. And while the logistics of chip binning meant that AMD never stopped producing 14 CU GPUs, once AMD did opt to sell a 14 CU part under RX 500 series lineup, it was introduced as the regionally-limited RX 560D.


July (top) vs Current (bottom) RX 560 GPU Specifications on AMD.com

However as it turns out, at some point recently in the past, AMD has also approved selling 14 CU parts as standard RX 560 cards. As discovered by Heise.de, sometime within the past few months the Radeon RX 560 product page on AMD's website was silently changed to include the lowered 14 CU specifications, with July still listing "16 CUs" only. The page does not note any change and still lists 4/18/17 as the full launch date, so short of knowing what to look for, the lowered specifications are practically a footnote.

(Revised) AMD Radeon RX 560 Specification Comparison
  AMD Radeon RX 560 (New) AMD Radeon RX 560 (Old) AMD Radeon RX 460 AMD Radeon R7 360
Compute Units 14/16 CUs
(896/1024 SPs)
16 CUs
(1024 SPs)
14 CUs
(896 SPs)
12 CUs
(768 SPs)
Texture Units 56/64 64 56 48
ROPs 16 16 16 16
Base Clock <=1175MHz <=1175MHz 1090MHz N/A
Boost Clock <=1275MHz <=1275MHz 1200MHz 1050MHz
Memory Clock 7Gbps GDDR5 7Gbps GDDR5 7Gbps GDDR5 6.5Gbps GDDR5
Memory Bus Width 128-bit 128-bit 128-bit 128-bit
VRAM 2GB/4GB 4GB 4GB 2GB
Transistor Count 3B 3B 3B 2.08B
Typical Board Power 60-80W 60-80W <75W 100W
Manufacturing Process GloFo 14nm GloFo 14nm GloFo 14nm TSMC 28nm
Architecture GCN 4 GCN 4 GCN 4 GCN 1.1
GPU Polaris 11 Polaris 11 Polaris 11 Bonaire
Launch Date ~10/2017 05/2017 08/08/2016 06/18/2015
Launch Price $99 $99 $119 $109

The consequence of this change is that AMD and its partners can now market and ship lower-performing graphics products labelled under the same "RX 560" branding. And in fact they appear to be doing so right now, not only in an OEM context via a currently shipping PC as noted by Heise.de, but also cards from AIB partners. Sapphire RX 560s now have a separate 896 SP SKU part number (11267-18) but still branded the "Pulse Radeon RX 560," while ASUS has a "RX 560 EVO OC" 896 SP part. The PowerColor Red Dragon RX 560 4GBD5-DHA product page only specifies a lower clockspeed but its 896 SP count was revealed on its Newegg listing.

Which brings us to the next point of how this does translate in terms of consumer-facing e-tailers. Amazon is directly selling both ASUS cards without SP counts and only referring to the GPU as RX 560 EVO, while Amazon UK is selling the Sapphire card without any indication of 14 CUs. Additionally, Newegg is directly selling three 896 SP RX 560s, with the SP count in the description: the PowerColor Red Dragon 4GBD5-DHA (and the 4GBD5-DHAM brown box variant), along with the ASUS ROG Strix EVO Gaming OC. Based on listing release dates, this 896 SP RX 560 situation has existed since at least the beginning of October.

Putting this into performance numbers, in a heavily compute or texturing-limited scenario, these lowered specifications would allow for cards around 12% slower than cards built to AMD's original specifications. In effect, AMD is now able to ship the lower-performing RX 460-like cards, but has done so in a very non-transparent, consumer-unfriendly manner.

Now it should be noted that rebrands like this are not uncommon with OEM parts and the lowest-end retail SKUs, and that goes for both NVIDIA and AMD. OEM cards in particular are often used to burn off excess chips or other inventory that's just sitting around. What is atypical here is that it appears that AMD has silently swapped out the specifications of a mainstream ($100+) retail product; one that is already shipping. And if what we're noticing here with AIB partners follows, then the change is indeed directly linked to near-silent downgrades, albeit slight, of graphics parts that consumers would otherwise believe are higher-performing.

We have reached out to AMD for any clarification, but we have not heard back from them as of press time.

Update (12/5/17, 6 p.m. ET): An AMD statement given to our sister site confirms the two RX 560 variants, and AMD also noted that AIB partners would be responsible for communicating a given RX 560 model's specifications.

Update (12/6/17, 2 p.m. ET): AMD has provided a full comment to us in regards to the situation:

It’s correct that 14 Compute Unit (896 stream processors) and 16 Compute Unit (1024 stream processor) versions of the Radeon RX 560 are available. We introduced the 14CU version this summer to provide AIBs and the market with more RX 500 series options. It’s come to our attention that on certain AIB and etail websites there’s no clear delineation between the two variants. We’re taking immediate steps to remedy this: we’re working with all AIB and channel partners to make sure the product descriptions and names clarify the CU count, so that gamers and consumers know exactly what they’re buying. We apologize for the confusion this may have caused.

Source: AMD

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  • naretla - Tuesday, December 05, 2017 - link

    The Kepler version of the 860M wasn't silently introduced post-release with no announcement, though. And there were significant changes made to compensate for the older Kepler architecture, though the Maxwell version was still better, whereas the new RX 560 is a throwback to the old RX 460. More importantly, the RX 560 is a mid-range desktop graphics card sold at retail with aftermarket coolers etc. while the 860M was an OEM mobile chip.

    As for the differences between the Maxwell and Kepler versions:

    https://www.notebookcheck.net/NVIDIA-GeForce-GTX-8...
    "Despite its considerably higher shader count, the Kepler version is about 10 percent slower, mainly due to the worse bandwidth efficiency... The low-clocked Kepler version draws just slightly more power."

    https://www.notebookcheck.net/Review-Nvidia-GeForc...
    "It is easy to understand why Nvidia produces two versions of the GeForce GTX 860M. Smaller notebooks use the soldered GPUs with the Maxwell chip GM107, whereas bulkier gaming cases with MXM slots use the significantly bigger Kepler sibling (GK104 chip), which is also manufactured in a 28 nm process."
    Reply
  • abufrejoval - Tuesday, December 05, 2017 - link

    Nice to see you guys reading heise.de! They love you, too ;-)

    I don't usually propose violence, but somebody should be force marched out of a door very publically so AMD stands a chance to survive this kneecapping of their reputation.

    Until then, just say NO!
    Reply
  • silverblue - Wednesday, December 06, 2017 - link

    It sounds like a reverse binning exercise; release the good chips first and the lesser binned ones later. It should've been launched as the RX 555. It does sound like a repeat of the GT 730. Reply
  • mode_13h - Wednesday, December 06, 2017 - link

    I'm hoping the purpose (or at least a side-benefit) is to enable low-profile RX 560's. The RX 460 was available in that form factor, and AMD definitely needs something better than the RX 550. Reply
  • Ro_Ja - Wednesday, December 06, 2017 - link

    Didn't NVIDIA do this too way back Fermi years? Clock speed was very different for those GTX 460 and GTX 560s Reply
  • CPUGPUGURU - Wednesday, December 06, 2017 - link

    Desperate AMD now plays its lame nefarious marketing game to fool consumers into buying old RX460 as RX560 which will lead to AMD being sued for false advertising. All this proves Debt dumb and R&D poor AMD's Cred is as dead as a Dino, Dodo and Disco. Reply
  • peevee - Wednesday, December 06, 2017 - link

    "AMD has silently lowered the specifications of the Radeon RX 560 to encompass parts with 14 CUs (896 Stream Processors), allowing them to be sold alongside standard 16 CU (1024 SP) parts"=fraud. Reply
  • peevee - Wednesday, December 06, 2017 - link

    Can we please start putting marketoids in prisons where they naturally belong? Reply
  • NightAntilli - Wednesday, December 06, 2017 - link

    Damn it AMD. What is wrong with you?
    It is in the interest of AMD to protect their reputation by ensuring that the AIBs provide accurate information on their boxes. This situation makes AMD seem unreliable and untrustworthy, even if it is in AIB's hands. It's not as if people will stop buying nVidia cards by Asus because the Asus RX 560 was wrongly/insufficiently labeled. They are going to stop buying AMD cards in general though.

    Not the brightest move by AMD if they want to gain the trust of gamers. They should be happy that gamers are considering their lower end cards at all, but it will definitely backfire when their customers find out they didn't get what they thought they were getting. That is something to make someone not want to buy AMD ever again.

    Then again, gamers have been treating AMD like garbage for years. The market has had a bias for a long time. Think of it this way. We all know how the Xbox is doing in Japan. It has gone so far that MS practically gave up on it. They tried releasing JRPGs on their consoles for example to sell them in the past, and it didn't work. Nothing they did, helped them gain market share over there, and there really is no good reason for it other than the mindshare of the population.

    It's the same in the GPU space. The gaming market is like Japan for AMD. They have really tried for a long time (much longer than MS in Japan), but they are not valued. And well, if they can make a quick buck in the meantime, which they desperately need, by being able to ship and potentially sell chips that couldn't be sold at that price otherwise, they are going to do it. It's not as if their targeted consumer base had their backs anyway.

    Is it wrong? Yes. But it's not as if their reputation can get much worse either. Their reputation of being a hotter, slower, more power hungry budget alternative with crappy drivers, bad coolers, inferior technology and second tier features & support, which ultimately is not budgetary anyway because you need a bigger power supply and better cooling and bigger case and more case fans while missing out on the awesome competitor logos and brand name and GameWorks and premium features like G-sync, precedes them.

    At the same time, nobody goes to the length of not buying nVidia ever again when they do similar nonsense (except for me apparently). GTX 970 3.5GB, GTX 1060 3GB, Fermi clock speeds, 860M, Geforce 2 MX, the list goes on and on. Sure, they are called out on it, but what then? Calling out is useless by itself, if what they get in their pockets is not consistent with the situation. And that's where the responsibility of the consumer comes in. But we're not mature enough for that (yet). Because one felt it in their pockets whether they did good or bad, and the other was getting their pockets filled whether they did good or bad. So... Yeah.

    And suddenly over there, there's a much better market, which are the miners. In the light of the recent 'mining driver', AMD seems to be adopting a 'screw gamers, welcome miners' attitude, and I don't blame them. At least miners buy their products when they are a good deal, rather than constantly whining about AMD and bashing them.

    Is this anti-consumer? Yes.
    Is it worse than nVidia's past examples? No.
    Is it better? No.

    I'm not defending this action, but honestly, I don't care anymore. Gamers are generally too busy having nerdgasms at every other nVidia product to know what's really important for the future. They only care about bragging rights and the here and now.

    Keep getting screwed over. Maybe someday we'll be mature enough to know what matters.
    Reply
  • masouth - Thursday, December 07, 2017 - link

    "This situation makes AMD seem unreliable and untrustworthy, even if it is in AIB's hands."

    Unfortunately, this was 100% in AMD's hands. If they had release it as a 555 or 560LE or somesuch and an AIB called it a 560 then that was out of AMD's hands. Intentionally choosing to call it a 560 as well and keeping it on the DL is just as much garbage as the stunts nvidia pulls and it falls on AMD, not that AIB partners.
    Reply

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