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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  • SleepyFE - Friday, April 20, 2018 - link

    True. You buy ROG because it's a top of the line GPU with a good cooler. The fact that you know that doesn't mean everyone does. Also if you just don't feel like keeping up with the latest GPU tech you just go out and buy a ROG. So you DO buy a ROG because it's a ROG. It's a gaming brand and by now everyone knows you will get what you need if you buy a ROG.

    On the second point you are way off. GSync and Freesync are already marked on every product using it so matching that is no problem. Also Nvidia GPU already says Nvidia on it so why does ROG have to mean the same thing now? If you want Nvidia you buy Nvidia If you want a good GPU you buy ROG (or at least you used to). Now there are two names describing one product ROG=Nvidia. That's not consumer friendly that's just confusing. 2 million different Nvidia brands for no good reason (and sadly by forcing that you also get 2 million AMD brands). Before if you couldn't tell the difference (or just didn't care) between Nvidia and AMD you just bought a ROG. Now buying a ROG means buying Nvidia. It's a way to F every competitor without spending a dime and you can sue everyone who isn't on board or just not supply them with stock.
  • Yojimbo - Thursday, April 19, 2018 - link

    They can put "gaming" on the box, but their "premiere gaming brand must only be aligned with GeForce"

    Nonsense. Did you pull this quote out of thin air? There's nothing that says their premiere gaming brand must be aligned with GeForce, only that any gaming brand aligned with GeForce must be exclusively GeForce and not also be aligned with a competitor.
  • SleepyFE - Friday, April 20, 2018 - link

    There is not. But their premiere gaming brand was used for both products before the GPP so if they booted out Nvidia to put it in it's own brand before signing the GPP that might work. After signing the GPP Nvidia might have legal basis if they get kicked of the established brand. Ergo Nvidia gets the name they have been using so far and everyone else can go F themselves.
  • Yojimbo - Saturday, April 21, 2018 - link

    "There is not."
    "After signing the GPP Nvidia might have legal basis if they get kicked of the established brand."

    Firstly, those two statements seem to contradict each other. Secondly the second statement seems to be pure speculation, and speculation that contradicts the evidence we have. What we know is that the terms of the agreement say that NVIDIA products must be offered in a brand exclusively aligned with NVIDIA. People can try to spin this to mean that NVIDIA must get the established brand any way they want, but all of those ways are wrong, no matter how many times or how many different ways it is done.

    In actuality the whole controversy about the GPP is nothing but an AMD attempt to get their name in the minds of gaming enthusiasts. They went around to technology sites and shopped around this story to try to brew some controversy. Then they got to "respond" to the controversy with a blog post, resulting in far more attention among the technology press and gamers' consciousness than they could possibly garner from their products, as their current products aren't anything anyone gets excited about and they won't have anything new to talk about for another year. It's a brilliant PR move. If only they were as good at making GPUs...

    AMD isn't going to be suing NVIDIA, because there's nothing to sue over. The board partners are not being "bullied", and the company that the board partners are more likely to be getting annoyed at in this whole thing is AMD because AMD is trying to drag the board partners into its PR circus. I am sure they too would much rather AMD come out with an actual product that would sell well to gamers.
  • SleepyFE - Saturday, April 21, 2018 - link

    I "like" how you left out all the explanation and just went with: "those two statements seem to contradict each other".
    The reason it's speculation is because Nvidia is not willing to make anything clear or TRANSPARENT. But the fact remains. Nvidia cards were already aligned with the gaming brand and now the brand has to be EXCLUSIVELY aligned with Nvidia. Excluding all others from established brands. You've already read my guess, now YOU tell ME what will happen if a partner doesn't do that.
  • Yojimbo - Sunday, April 22, 2018 - link

    "I "like" how you left out all the explanation and just went with: "those two statements seem to contradict each other"."

    What explanation? Your speculation is not an explanation.

    "The reason it's speculation is because Nvidia is not willing to make anything clear or TRANSPARENT. But the fact remains."

    Fact without facts, an interesting concept. The reason any conspiracy theory exists is because it's very hard to prove a negative. I can't prove you didn't invent a cure for cancer. I can't prove there isn't some secret and evil threat by NVIDIA to exact revenge on any board partner that doesn't fall in line. It's not normal for companies to publicly release the actual legal documents of their agreements. It's entirely normal that neither NVIDIA nor the board partners want to talk about it. NVIDIA did make a statement on the issue and they explicitly denied what you keep repeating over and over in your speculation. The only reason anyone is questioning it is because AMD is telling people they should and because they don't really know better. What I can do is point out that NVIDIA doesn't need to use any such tactic as the wording you are claiming, as any sensible board partner will happily choose to put its supplier that accounts for over three quarters of its revenue in the product segment into its most established brand. NVIDIA probably only needs to use a small amount of incentivization to encourage the board partners to separate their brands to begin with. It costs some money and it's a pain in the ass for them, but if they are getting something in return for it I doubt they mind it being done all that much. They can still sell both NVIDIA and AMD cards. The downside is they have to manage two separate gaming brands now. The upside is that they get help from NVIDIA to manage the NVIDIA-aligned gaming brand. Board partners are not losing out. Consumers are not losing out. The only one losing out is AMD, but not because anything unfair is being done to them, only because their products, which are less prestigious among the majority of PC gamers at the moment, are being more visibly separated from NVIDIA's products, which are more prestigious.

    "Excluding all others from established brands."

    That statement is simply not true. It's false. No matter how many times you repeat it, from the information we have that is not how the GPP works.
  • Tams80 - Sunday, April 22, 2018 - link

    All we have officially is the NVIDIA blog post. Anything else is speculation (as those who knwo the specifics aren't talking). It's pretty much all vague marketing speak, mainly about things you'd expect them to be doing already.

    "The program isn’t exclusive. Partners continue to have the ability to sell and promote products from anyone." is vague. Partners obviously can still sell and promote other products from others if NVIDIA demands a specific partner brand to themselves. Those brands do have value.

    So, if NVIDIA are demanding exclusive access to partner brands (which neither you nor I know), then it is unfair on AMD, and disadvantages AMD. That in turn reduces competition, which is not good for the consumer.

    What is suspicious (other than the rumours) is why NVIDIA felt the need to announce the program at all. It they seem to offer in their blog post is, as I mentioned earlier, what you would expect them to already offer their partners. Why the announcement?
  • SleepyFE - Sunday, April 22, 2018 - link

    >>What explanation? Your speculation is not an explanation.<<

    I explained why and how i think Nvidia is getting the premier brand. They never said they have to be aligned with the premier, well established brand, but they did say a brand associated with Nvidia must be EXCLUSIVELY(=excluding all others) used for Nvidia. And they can argue prior use of the established brand to promote Nvidia products and therefore that brand must be used for them EXCLUSIVELY.

    How many people share your account? This is from your comment: "any gaming brand aligned with GeForce must be exclusively GeForce and not also be aligned with a competitor."

    Exclusivity means excluding all others and that is a fact. Brands are already aligned with Nvidia and now that must be exclusive, even you said as much and that is the fact i was referring too.
    As far as i know that is something even Nvidia has acknowledged, yet you claim it isn't fact and keep pushing a conspiracy theory. WTF?!?!

    I don't know if you are interested in continuing this discussion. If you are my next comment will be short and back to basics so we can maybe find some common ground. So far all you've said is:"Conspiracy theory" and "Not true"
  • SleepyFE - Saturday, April 28, 2018 - link

    OK. I'm done good luck to all.
  • Flunk - Thursday, April 19, 2018 - link

    I don't care what branding is on my video card as long as it's a good card.

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