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AMD Radeon Pro W5500 offered as price-conscious alternative Mac Pro GPU

AMD has launched another professional graphics card which could be used in the Mac Pro, with the Radeon Pro W5500 offered as an alternative to the high-powered W5700 with restrained performance, at half the price of its stablemate.

AMD revealed the Radeon Pro W5700 in November as its first PC workstation graphics card with a GPU that uses a 7-nanometer process. While offering high performance, making it extremely suitable for the kind of workloads intended for the Mac Pro, the card is also quite expensive at $799, so the launch of a similar card at a lower price point is likely to be welcomed by professional users.

The Radeon Pro W5500 is made using the same 7-nanometer process and uses the same high-performance RDNA architecture as the W5700, which boasts a 25% speed higher performance-per-clock than previous-generation GCN architecture cards. The line also offers significant multitasking performance improvements, along with a more power-efficient setup that can help it consume 32-percent less power on average in Solidworks.

To bring the card down in price, AMD has reduced its specifications as well. While the W5700 has 36 compute units, 8.89 teraflops of performance, and 8GB of GDDR6 memory, the W5500 has a respectable 22 compute units, 1408 stream processors and up to 5.35 teraflops of single-precision performance, or up to 330 gigaflops of double-precision.

Memory is still 8GB of GDDR6, with up to 224GB/s of memory bandwidth, and maximum power consumption is 125 watts. The number of displays it can drive has also gone down from six to four, with the quad DisplayPort 1.4 outputs able to handle four 4K displays or one 8K display at 60Hz.

Again, the card supports PCIe 4.0 connections, though it will work with any PCIe 3 slots in the Mac Pro or in eGPU enclosures. It is also a single-width, full-height card.

While scaled back from the W5700, AMD insists the W5500 is still a great card for the workplace, including for visualizations and VR applications.

A mobile-enabled version of the GPU is also offered under the Radeon Pro W5500M name. It is equipped with the same 22 compute units and memory bandwidth, but it has 4GB of GDDR6 memory, a maximum power consumption of 85 watts, and offers up to 4.79 teraflops of performance.

The mobile version does stand a chance of being employed in a future MacBook Pro model, as Apple does use AMD GPUs as discrete alternatives to Intel's integrated graphics.

The Radeon Pro W5500 graphics card will be going on sale in mid-February, priced at $399. The W5500M GPU is anticipated to be available in professional mobile workstations later in the spring, though AMD did not state which vendors would use the component.

While the card isn't currently compatible with macOS, the rest of AMD's graphics card lineup is while Nvidia's range isn't. It is a near-inevitability that support will be incoming in a future operating system update.