This week, ASUS introduced new “AREZ” branding for their AMD Radeon video cards. This announcement comes in conjunction with an AMD ‘freedom of choice’ initiative for consumers and gamers. Unmentioned, but inextricably intertwined, is NVIDIA’s highly controversial and recently-announced GeForce Partner Program (GPP), of which there's little first-hand information, but is widely perceived as being a consumer-unfriendly project.

NVIDIA describes GPP as a consumer transparency program with partners and OEMs that include incentives such as early access to new technologies, engineering support, and joint marketing (though the distinction between market development funds and co-operative funds was not made), types of programs that are common in the industry. However, unique to GPP and key to today's announcements is that Partners are required to place NVIDIA cards under their own brand, as opposed to the status-quo of both AMD and NVIDIA products showing up under the same brand (e.g. ASUS's Republic of Gamers).

In practice this has meant that Partners have booted AMD off of their existing brands. And with few verifiable facts about how these decisions were made, they've been subject to heavy speculation, ranging from Partners keeping their existing brands for their highest volume products - NVIDIA typically outsells AMD at around 3:1 in the GPU market - to NVIDIA secretly requiring that Partners only use their existing brands for this endeavor. (ed: officially, NVIDIA says that they don't care as long as it's a GeForce-only brand, but the general secrecy around GPP means that they have a public credibiltiy problem right now).

As for ASUS, the new “AREZ” brand supersedes the previous vendor-agnostic branding of “Republic of Gamers” and “ROG STRIX,” existing sub-brands that includes both systems and computer components such as discrete graphics cards. In practice, “ROG Strix” tier Radeon products have now been shuffled into it’s own branding without any further official details, while AMD motherboards have been untouched. Though it's interesting to note that even with this latest development, AREZ isn't strictly a new brand for ASUS. Ultra high-end dual-GPU Radeon solutions have classically fallen under the "Ares" label in the past. So the name isn't completely detached from video card history; rather it's had a Z bolted on to the end.

For ASUS’ Republic of Gamers, the brand was originally created as a halo brand oriented for enthusiast-class products, offering higher quality (and more profitable) components and specialty community support. Long time readers may recall that an ASUS Republic of Gamers motherboard received a very rare AnandTech Editors’ Choice Gold Award back in 2012, where we had said, “Users who participate in the Republic of Gamers are well catered for, and get the best ASUS has to offer in terms of help, information, previews, experience.” If these changes are representative of the brand as a whole, than this experience will be only offered for GeForce owners. And likewise, consumers will only be exposed to GeForce products through ROG.

The affected products appear to have only undergone rebranding, rather than any specification changes. The cutover is not complete, as equivalent listings still appear to exist under the ROG category, and a look through the AREZ video card specifications show some products still list ROG branded accessories, such as the “ROG velcro strap.”

Meanwhile, AMD connected the “AREZ” brand to new upcoming brands, announcing that “over the coming weeks, you can expect to see our add-in board partners launch new brands that carry an AMD Radeon product.” In their blogpost titled "Radeon RX Graphics: A Gamer's Choice", the company expounded on the idea of consumer “freedom of choice,” explicitly connecting certain values with these new brands. Of these, AMD brought up FreeSync as opposed to “penalizing gamers with proprietary technology ‘taxes’ and limiting their choices in displays,” as well as “no anti-gamer / anti-competitive strings attached” in their relationships with board partners.

All-in-all, AMD is drawing a line here, focusing on consumer awareness and industry 'values' rather than dragging in AIB partners into a straight-up internal AMD/NVIDIA fight. Leveraging and expanding their traditional open ecosystem strategy, AMD is emphasizing its efforts with JEDEC HBM standards, work with the Vulkan API, and initiatives with GPUOpen. These 'values', so to speak, are already technologies that AMD pushes, and so the company is doubling-down in how they communicate these aspects to enthusiasts when they look at these new AIB brands.

In other words, the wording is clearly aimed at, but refrains from specifically mentioning, the recent controversies with NVIDIA GPP. Likewise, AMD’s description of “AREZ” does not specify whether their announcement is a reactive reframing of board partner rebranding, or a proactive creation of a particular initiative. Across the add-in board partner environment, it’s been reported that other partners have been dropping brands from Radeon products here and there, though none as prominant or wholesale as AREZ.

Given the nature of NVIDIA GPP, conclusive details will likely be impossible to retrieve. But we can say that the new AMD Radeon sub-brands in the coming weeks will greatly elucidate the exact relationship with NVIDIA GPP.

Source: AMD, ASUS

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  • r3loaded - Thursday, April 19, 2018 - link

    > Why people keep feeding this cancer they call Nvidia

    Well, neural network frameworks like Tensorflow and friends currently only support Nvidia CUDA, so there's that. AMD support is meant to be coming some time, but for now you need an Nvidia GPU if you want to do any deep learning work. I know, it sucks, but we don't have a choice yet.
    Reply
  • invinciblegod - Thursday, April 19, 2018 - link

    "forced purchase for something the market has better solutions for that cost basically nothing (such as freesync etc)"

    For this example though freesync came out later and gsync has better performance in head to head comparisons. May not be worth the price but the advantage is there theoretically.
    Reply
  • darckhart - Thursday, April 19, 2018 - link

    at the framerates that matter... they're essentially same. IDK why anyone *needs* gsync at 144 Hz if the card is already capable of pushing 90-100+ fps... Reply
  • T1beriu - Thursday, April 19, 2018 - link

    AREZ - ARES - GOD OF WAR. Reply
  • Yojimbo - Thursday, April 19, 2018 - link

    I fail to see how it is consumer unfriendly for board partners that choose to offer both NVIDIA and AMD cards to brand the NVIDIA gaming offerings differently from the AMD gaming offerings. It makes no difference for well-informed consumers and it is a positive for less informed consumers who may otherwise be ignorant of the difference between an NVIDIA offering and an AMD offering. They would apply the reputation of the brand to both with no discretion. Now the reputation of each brand stands on its own, so the consumer wins.

    It's perhaps a negative for AMD because their products have smaller market share and so AMD offerings will have to build their own gaming brands rather than piggy backing on the sales of NVIDIA cards within the brands (it doesn't matter if the original cards in the brand were AMD cards. At the moment the reputations of the brands are set primarily by the NVIDIA products and that has been the case since 2014). But that's not an uncompetitive situation, as AMD's access to the market is not being reduced in any way. In fact it's the opposite of uncompetitive. It's a more open competition. Obviously AMD would not like to have that right now.
    Reply
  • Stuka87 - Thursday, April 19, 2018 - link

    AIB's are forbidden from using the word 'gaming' ANYWHERE in marketing or text on non-nVidia products. The AIB's were forced to create new brands for AMD products, which means they would have to spend twice as much on marketing. NOBODY that likes gaming should be in favor of GPP. It is bad for everybody except nVidia. Reply
  • ViRGE - Thursday, April 19, 2018 - link

    "AIB's are forbidden from using the word 'gaming' ANYWHERE in marketing or text on non-nVidia products."

    Er, we're looking at the same pictures, right?

    https://images.anandtech.com/doci/12664/Arez_Strix...

    That's clearly the phrase "Gaming graphics card" in fairly large print on Asus's box. So that claim doesn't seem right?
    Reply
  • Cooe - Thursday, April 19, 2018 - link

    They can put "gaming" on the box, but their "premiere gaming brand must only be aligned with GeForce". So basically all the well-known AIB's top gaming brands with long history's and market power CAN'T be used for AMD products anymore. Instead they get new brands no one has ever heard of. How does that sound fair to you??? Reply
  • Sttm - Thursday, April 19, 2018 - link

    Market Power? LOL.

    As if anyone buys a GTX1080Ti ROG STRIX because its an ROG, and not because its a 1080TI or has the STRIX cooling...

    C'mon with this fanboy crap.

    If anything this can be consumer friendly by having them brand the AMD parts and Monitors that support AMD Freesync differently from Nvidia and the monitors that support GSync, making it so figuring out which goes with which is done in the title.
    Reply
  • OneOkami - Friday, April 20, 2018 - link

    "As if anyone buys a GTX1080Ti ROG STRIX because its an ROG, and not because its a 1080TI or has the STRIX cooling..."

    If that's how you feel about it would you care to explain to me why NVIDIA even bothered with such a things as GPP in the first place, then?
    Reply

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