We are still a few months away from getting our first official look at AMD's new Navi GPU based graphics cards but it looks like we have some new details coming in from the rumor mill. There have been many reports recently about AMD's Navi GPU based Radeon RX graphics cards that could be launching in the second half of 2019 and while they are aimed at the more budget-tier audience, details of a second Navi GPU which is aimed at the enthusiast tier have been revealed by RedGamingTech.
AMD Navi 20 GPU To Be Featured on Enthusiast Grade Gaming Graphics Cards, Features Enhanced GCN Architecture and Ray Tracing Performance Equivalent or Faster Than an RTX 2080 Ti
Now the details that are mentioned are broken into two parts, one is for the initial AMD Navi cards that utilize the Navi 10 GPU architecture and the second is for the high-end, enthusiast grade parts that would feature the Navi 20 GPU. According to RedGamingTech, the details were acquired from sources who have been very accurate in the past as per their claim.
The details say that before Raja Koduri, AMD's ex-head of Radeon Technologies Group, left the company, one of his major tasks was to fix many of the weaknesses in the GCN architecture. The reason to do this was to let AMD RTG focus on both, producing a next-gen architecture while working on GCN iterations to remain competitive against NVIDIA GeForce and Quadro lineups. Now we have seen that this strategy worked well for AMD in the mainstream market but their flagship products weren't necessarily the best or to make it simple, king of the hill products that AMD wanted them to be but rather side options to NVIDIA's enthusiast offerings.
The reason why Vega didn't live up to the hype was that when Raja joined RTG, the design of the Vega GPU was very much completed and there was little he could do. The actual goal for Raja was to work on Navi GPUs which would still be based on the existing GCN architecture but further refined through fixes to let's say, the geometry engine, as reported by RedGamingTech. Now it is possible and very likely that AMD had finished the design for Navi much before Raja left RTG. But what happens to Navi when it goes into the development phase, that's something we are really close to finding out now as rumors are alleging a launch of the first Navi based Radeon RX cards in mid of 2019.
AMD Navi 20, Here's What The Rumors Have To Say About AMD's Next-Gen Enthusiast GPU
So starting off with the Navi 20 details, we first have the alleged Ray Tracing support and to be honest, I think it's very likely that AMD would introduce their own take on Ray Tracing, especially when Crytek recently demoed their first ray tracing demo based on their CRYENGINE on an AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 graphics card. AMD would like to support Microsoft's DXR API and provide a more open-source ray tracing feature support as they have done so with many other technologies in the past, e.g. TressFX, Freesync, OpenCL.
It is also said that the internal ray tracing performance estimates look really good and AMD Navi 20 GPUs may end up being competitive or even faster than the competing NVIDIA GeForce RTX cards (Navi 20 flagship vs GeForce RTX 2080 Ti). It is also stated that HPC or datacenter cards based on the Navi GPU architecture would be very different compared to consumer parts. They are likely to feature a more custom SOC oriented design, slightly similar to what NVIDIA does with their top end Tesla parts.
But we have to take into consideration that AMD's Navi 20 GPUs will be launching a year after the Navi 10 mainstream parts. So that puts the launch to around 2020 which is still pretty far away. At the same time, NVIDIA states that they don't have any plans to rush to 7nm right now as they can achieve much competitive performance to watt figures on 12nm FinFET process so it's possible that NVIDIA could be aiming for the enhanced 7nm+ or 5nm node, completely excluding the 7nm process off their tables.
Huang told Synced NVIDIA is in no rush to mass produce 7nm GPUs because he has sufficient confidence in Turing. “What makes us special is we can create the most energy-efficient GPU in the world at any time, and we should use the most affordable technology. Look at Turing. The energy-efficiency is so good even compared to somebody else’s 7nm.” via Synced Review
Other than that, we are hearing reports that AMD Navi GPUs may introduce features such as Variable Rate Shading which would be available across the Navi architecture. We have also seen various reports which indicate that Navi GPUs would be the underlying graphics architecture of next-generation consoles from Sony and Microsoft so looks like Navi, while being the last GCN based GPU architecture, might end up capturing multiple markets for AMD and be competitive at the same time.