Upgrading to the Radeon RX 480 Could Offset 500K Cars (and Other Fun Facts)

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Over the years, you might have heard about our commitments–like the 25×20 initiative–to continuously improve the energy efficiency of AMD products. Our most recent endeavor has been the Polaris architecture, which enables us to craft new products that offer up to 2.8X the performance per watt of power versus products gamers might’ve owned just two years ago.1 But performance per watt, or “perf/W” as the slang goes around here, is a metric that’s often difficult to imagine or relate to when scaled out to millions of graphics cards. What does a commitment to performance per watt actually do for our planet? With the assistance of Pure Strategies, we’ve just finished a new study (PDF) to answer that very question.

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Looking at the new Radeon™ RX 480 graphics card, we determined that an upgrade cycle favoring this affordable powerhouse could stop as much as 1.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) from entering our atmosphere every year.2 But 4,235,459,252 pounds (1.92 billion kg) of a colorless and odorless greenhouse gas is still pretty difficult to imagine. So, what if we expressed the savings as things we know and can see? Using the methodologies and results described in our paper, we did the math:

  • According to American Forests, America’s oldest non-profit environmental conservation group, the average automobile emits about 8,320 pounds of CO2 every year. That means upgrades to the Radeon RX 480 graphics card could offset an entire year of driving from over 500,000 automobiles.
  • According to NC State University, the average American tree can offset about 48 pounds of CO2 per year. In other words: many users switching to Radeon RX 480 graphics cards could be equivalent to as many as 88.2 million trees.
  • According to the US EPA greenhouse gas calculator, the 2.78 billion kWh annual energy savings determined in our paper could offset an entire year of power consumption from about 290,000 average American homes.2
  • Based on electricity costs from the US Energy Information Administration, the same 2.8 billion kWh annual savings from our report represents about $350,000,000 USD in saved energy costs!3

There are so many interesting ways to interpret the data we uncovered in the course of our energy efficiency study. But no matter which way you slice it, AMD’s commitment to energy efficiency with the Polaris architecture can have a real and significant impact on the health of the world we live in.

Ready to help the planet? Just upgrade and game on. It’s that easy!

  1. Testing conducted by AMD Performance Labs as of May 10, 2016 on 3DMark 11 and 3DMark Firestrike using a test system comprising of an i7-4600M, 8GB, AMD Radeon driver 16.20. AMD Radeon R9 M280X (14CUs) scored 5700 and 3500 with a board power of 82W. AMD Radeon RX 480M (16CUs) scored 7200 and 4070 with a board power of 35W. Using Performance/Board power, the resulting average across the 2 different titles was a perf per watt of 2.8X vs the Radeon R9 M280X. RX-5
  2. The alternate use case in the sensitivity analysis showing the least delta for annual electricity savings was 2.4 hours active gaming; 2 hours of web browsing; 1.6 hours for video streaming; 1 hour of short idle; 5 hours at long idle; 6 hours in sleep mode; and 6 hours off. In this case the gaming PC with the R9 390 GPU consumes 683 kWh annually, instead of 507 kWh annually with the RX 480 GPU, a difference of 176 kWh (25.6 percent reduction). 176 kWh x 15.8 million = 2,784,307,600 kWh per year x $0.1258 cents per kWh (US Energy Information Administration) = $350,265,896 USD. 15,800,000 GPUs per year x 0.12 MTCO2e per gaming PC = 1,921,172 MTCO2e. 2,784,307,600 kWh per year equals electricity to power 289,946 US homes for one year (US EPA Greenhouse gas equivalency calculator)
  3. The annual kWh savings from operating a gaming PC with a Radeon R9 390 versus a Radeon RX 480 is 296 kWh (929 kWh – 633 kWh). Annual per PC savings times the number of Performance GPUs sold in 2015 equals 4.7 million kWh. US EPA carbon equivalency calculator used to estimate equivalent number of US homes powered. Estimated carbon emissions from the average emission factor of 0.69 kg CO2e/kWh (from Pure Strategies). Energy costs are the US national residential average of $0.1258 per kWh from the US Energy Information Administration.
  4. Header image courtesy Flickr user fr4dd under Creative Commons 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license. Original image was modified including cropping, tonemapping, and sharpening. No endorsement from the author is implied.

2 thoughts on “Upgrading to the Radeon RX 480 Could Offset 500K Cars (and Other Fun Facts)

  1. just brought one radeon rx 480 black edition .. if i had more cash i would buy another one . i have room in my pc i have power for another one . my motherboard will let me have another one.. but my pocket wont … love this card works great in my pc and love the look of this card and performance is just sweet

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