PowerColor reduces GPU power consumption by 20% thanks to AI


PowerColor reduces GPU power consumption by 20% thanks to AI

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Image: ITMedia

PowerColor has showcased a drastic reduction in graphics card power consumption through the integration of an NPU. The idea is to leverage the latter’s AI capabilities to tune the GPU on the fly, producing the highest performance at the lowest energy cost.

To stand out among the best graphics cards, PowerColor has integrated an NPU (Neural Processing Unit) from Kneron to manage its GPUs’ power budget. Using these AI capabilities, the brand aims to maintain high GPU performance at significantly reduced power consumption. Aside from the cost savings for the owner, this solution should also extend the card’s lifespan.

In ECO mode, the card can intelligently detect and change fan speed according to the GPU temperature alongside reduce the power consumption by up to 20%. Boost mode on the other hand dynamically adjusts GPU consumption and heat to ensure higher performance and stability.

According to the tests on display, the system without NPU consumed 338W of power, against 261W for the NPU-optimised one. That’s a huge difference in both cost and heat output for the user – especially on these hot summer days. That said, note that frame rates did drop slightly from 118fps to 107fps, which is understandable as nothing magical is happening here.

Regarding fan control, since the GPU was sitting very comfortably at 51°C, the AI solution opted for a bit higher 61°C temperature trade-off to reduce the fan speed from 1,918rpm to 1,037rpm. Though we don’t have any sound measurements, halving the fan speed will definitely be noticeable.

PowerColor GPU power consumption test.
Image: ITMedia

While you can pretty much get a similar or maybe better result doing a manual undervolt, I see the appeal for many users. Not everyone is tech-savvy, plus sometimes you just want the bloody thing to work without bothering to tune it. Especially the first time you install a card, you just want to play games.

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Also, while a factory underclocked card won’t need an NPU to deliver a similar experience, it will be hard for the manufacturer to ensure each unit’s long-term stability. If you have undervolted a CPU or GPU before, you may have faced the need to increase its voltage up a bit after a couple of years as the silicon no longer manages to run at that low tune. Not to forget that the brand’s products would look less performant compared to the competition. As much as I like joking about AI, this is a good way to leverage its powers, making basic tasks simpler so we don’t have to waste time on them.

Hopefully, we will see more of these solutions on upcoming CPUs, too, as both AMD Ryzen AI 300 and Intel Lunar Lake include NPUs. This way, we can save both our wallet and the planet.

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