High-End Graphics Cards Could Die Out Because of the EU

AMD is concerned that it might not be allowed to sell its next cards in Europe

By Sebastian Pop on October 15th, 2012 09:05 GMT
The European Union takes a very firm stance against pollution and energy waste, but it might have reached the point where people could start crying “enough is enough.”

The specification for the so-called Eco design Lot 3 with the EC, found here, includes a certain stipulation that isn't being very warmly received.

The EU has taken the rather questionable stance of classifying cards on the basis of on-board memory bandwidth, which it sees as proportionate to power consumption.

A seven-class table mentions tiers G1 through G7, where the latter is the highest and defines a graphics card with a bandwidth of 128 GB or above.

In layman terms, the EU doesn't want graphics cards to have a bandwidth above that mark, and while it will allow models that exceed it, it won't stand for anything over 320 GB/s. Assuming the regulations are enforced that is.

According to Nordic Hardware, Advanced Micro Devices (and possibly NVIDIA as well) is worried that its next-generation high-end cards will be banned from the EU.

In fact, even existing high-tier cards, the HD 7700 and HD 7900 series, fail to meet the requirements, as do the HD 6500/6600 and HD 7500/7600 series.

There is a period of respite at least. The EU will supposedly enforce the new guidelines only in 2014 (it previously was 2013), but even that is too early.

Truth be told, memory bandwidth doesn't actually translate into performance very well, so this system doesn't really make perfect sense, even if it is a reliable means of distinguishing between market segments.

We also have to point out that, while graphics card energy use has been rising each year, high-end video cards are a very small niche market with hardly the same negative impact on the environment like, say, cars and power plants that use fossil fuels.

Besides, those with enough money to afford high-tier board today won't have any qualms about buying two cards instead of one when the limits are enforced. Obviously, increasing the number of boards that produce or eventually become tech waste will totally negate the “efficiency” gain.
AMD worried about the EU's new rules
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   AMD worried about the EU's new rules

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