AMD on Tuesday launched its new range of Radeon Pro cards. Radeon Pro W6800The , W6600, and, on laptops, the W6600M use the RDNA 2 architecture within the AMD consumer RX 6000 range. The W6800 is already available and the W6600 is coming later this year as a PC add-in card, but it’s unclear whether Apple will support these updated cards in the Mac Pro.
Apple has a long history with AMD, and it uses Radeon graphics cards exclusively in the Mac Pro. Right now, the Mac Pro supports one or two W5000 or Vega II GPUs. Before AMD’s announcement, these were the best professional Radeon cards available. That said, they are based on the older RDNA and Vega architectures respectively, while the newer W6000 cards are based on RDNA 2.
AMD says the new architecture delivers a 79% performance increase over the previous generation, which is a huge boost for workstations. When Apple launched the Mac Pro in 2019, it promised modularity through its MPX add-in card that would allow users to easily upgrade their components without spending thousands of dollars on a new machine. However, Apple hasn’t really delivered on that promise, which doesn’t bode well for AMD’s new cards to make their way to the Mac Pro.
The W6800 is available now for $2,249 and the W6600 will cost $649 when it launches. Meanwhile, Apple charges an additional $600 for the W5700X — the card that outperforms the W6800 79% — and $2,400 for the Vega II. That’s on top of the $6,000 base machine, which is hard to swallow considering the performance AMD’s new cards bring.
For reference, the Vega II FP32 delivers up to 14.2 TFLOPs of power, while the new W6800 delivers up to 17.83. TFLOPs aren’t all that important—for example, the Vega II uses HDM memory instead of GDDR6—but it shows how the power of the Mac Pro continues to grow.
Two years ago, the Mac Pro was one of the most powerful machines on the market with a lot of flexibility. It remains an extremely powerful workstation, but professionals looking for the latest and greatest may have a hard time justifying the Mac Pro over the next few years. Hopefully, Apple will eventually expand its MPX lineup to accommodate the new cards.
As for AMD’s new cards, they bring many features to the professional space. It includes the Ryzen 5000 with smart access memory and select Ryzen 3000 processors, infinity cache and hardware-accelerated ray tracing. The W6800 comes with 60 Compute Units (CUs) for a total of 3,840 stream processors and 32GB of GDDR6 ECC memory. The W6600 and W6600M come with 28 CUs for a total of 1,792 stream processors and 8GB of GDDR6 ECC memory.