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AMD Promises High-End Radeon RX Navi GPUs And Navi APUs – Heavily Investing In Ray Tracing For 2020 Discrete GPUs

Jan 8, 2020
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In a round table Q/A session with the tech press, AMD's CEO, Dr. Lisa Su, promised high-end Navi based Radeon RX graphics card and Navi based APUs. While many were expecting to hear some word about AMD's high-end Navi products at AMD's CES 2020 keynote, they were kind of left disappointed when no such announcement or even a teaser was displayed, however, AMD's CEO has confirmed that Navi based high-end Radeon RX cards in the works and we should expect them in 2020.

AMD Promises High-End Navi Based Radeon RX GPUs & Next-Generation Navi GPU Powered APUs, Also Heavily Investing In Ray-Tracing Tech!

The question about a high-end Radeon RX graphics card was raised by PC World's, Gordon Ung, who asked Lisa if AMD would have a high-end discrete graphics competitor against NVIDIA's RTX 2080 Ti or a similar tier graphics card. To this, Lisa replied that having a high-end Navi graphics card is very important and they will definitely have one but no timing or release date was unveiled.

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Gordon Ung, PC World: Do you think that AMD has to have a high-end competitor in the discrete graphics market?

LS: [laughs] I know those on Reddit want a high-end Navi! You should expect that we will have a high-end Navi and that it is important to have it. The discrete graphics market, especially at the high end, is very important to us. So you should expect that we will have a high-end Navi, although I don’t usually comment on unannounced products.

Based on Lisa's statement, it seems more likely that the new Navi based high-end graphics card would be based on the 2nd Generation RDNA architecture rather than the 1st Generation which has been with us since July. It seems very likely that AMD could make a proper announcement regarding their high-end Navi graphics cards at Computex 2020 or E3 2020 with a proper launch scheduled later on. Last year, AMD unveiled their Radeon RX 5700 series cards at Computex 2019 but they have also chosen E3 2020 as a stage to preview their next-generation products too.

With that said, we are already aware of a recent rumor which pointed out that AMD's high-end Radeon RX Navi GPUs could be up to twice as fast as Navi 10, featuring a massive die size and GDDR6 memory. Some of the features to expect from 2nd Generation RDNA Navi GPUs would be:

  • Optimized 7nm+ process node
  • Enthusiast-grade desktop graphics card options
  • Hardware-Level Ray Tracing Support
  • A mix of GDDR6 and HBM2 graphics cards
  • More power-efficient than First-Gen Navi GPUs

Nothing else is stated, but from the looks of it, this could be a very powerful graphics card, marking AMD's proper return in the enthusiast high-end desktop GPU space. We also know for a fact that AMD is planning to introduce hardware-accelerated ray tracing as a primary featured of their next-generation RDNA powered GPUs. AMD stated that they are currently investing heavily in ray tracing technology and in building the ecosystem around it. Surprisingly, Lisa kind of confirms in her next statement what we just stated above which is that they will have ray tracing in their discrete GPUs as they go through 2020.

The original die shot of the Xbox Scarlett posted by Phil Spencer.

Ray Tracing is a primary feature of the RDNA2 architecture and confirms that high-end Navi is going to end up utilizing the next-generation RDNA architecture rather than the existing one featured on Radeon RX 5000 series chips. In addition to that, both next-generation consoles from Sony and Microsoft are expected to feature ray-tracing support and RDNA2 GPUs too. We already got a teaser of the next-generation Scarlett 8K SOC from the head of Xbox, Phil Spencer so expect more details on it soon.

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Dean Takahashi, VentureBeat: Is real-time ray-tracing in graphics going to be as big as NVIDIA says it is?

LS: I’ve said in the past that ray tracing is important, and I still believe that, but if you look at where we are today it is still very early. We are investing heavily in ray tracing and investing heavily in the ecosystem around it – both of our console partners have also said that they are using ray tracing. You should expect that our discrete graphics as we go through 2020 will also have ray tracing. I do believe though it is still very early, and the ecosystem needs to develop. We need more games and more software and more applications to take advantage of it. At AMD, we feel very good about our position on ray tracing.

AMD really has to put out a high-end Radeon RX Navi based graphics card to compete against the likes of the RTX 2080, RTX 2080 SUPER and the RTX 2080 Ti. There are also reports that the next-gen Ampere GeForce GPUs could be as much as 50% faster and twice as efficient than the current Turing GPUs while offering significant increases in ray-tracing performance through hardware-level changes.

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Moving on, Anandtech's Dr. Ian Cutress asked a rather important question about AMD's high-end positioning in the laptop market. AMD announced their Ryzen 4000 'Renoir' lineup at CES 2020 but the highest-end laptop configuration, even with an 8 core & 16 thread Ryzen 7 4800H chip, is an RTX 2060 with the possibility of getting an RX 5700M configuration later in 2020. However, Intel recently showcased a slide comparing their high-end laptop configurations which offer up to RTX 2080 graphics card and AMD said that they want to have more premium designs in consumer and professional markets.

AnandTech: One of Intel’s marketing points has been that in order to get the best graphics in a laptop, such as the RTX 2080 and above, it is to get an Intel laptop. Can you say if any of your OEM partners are going to partner with the new Ryzen Mobile hardware with the best in the graphics market?

LS: As you can imagine, I’m not going to preannounce designs from our OEM partners, but I would say that you should believe that we are on a clear mission, and that mission is to have AMD in more premium designs for both the consumer and commercial markets. That’s not just our focus today, in 2020, but beyond 2020 also.

While the comparison is not fair by any means, it does show Intel having more higher-end laptop configurations over what AMD currently does. Intel's Chief performance strategist, Ryan Shrout, clarified this in a tweet:

If consumers want to buy a high-end gaming laptop with a discrete graphics chip better than the RTX 2060, then they are going to go the Intel / NVIDIA route. So it is important for AMD to win some high-end laptop designs in the later part of 2020 to really disrupt AMD in this laptop segment too.

Volker Rißka, ComputerBase: If the design was being discussed three years ago, why are the new parts using Vega, and not Navi?

LS: It's always how we integrate the components at the right time. Certainly, the Vega architecture is well known, very well optimized. It was always planned that this would be Zen2 + Vega. But just to be clear, you will see Navi in our APUs, and those will be coming.

Last but not least, AMD also promised that we will definitely see Navi in their next-generation APUs. AMD just recently announced Renoir based on Zen 2 CPU and second-generation 7nm Vega so we will be getting Zen 3 CPU and Navi (RDNA2) based APUs next year. AMD also revealed that going from original 14nm Vega to 7nm Vega gave them lots of performance opportunities while focusing on performance per watt and this is why their new Renoir APUs get a huge boost in GPU performance over the previous Vega (1st Gen) based Picasso APUs.

As for CES 2020, AMD's keynote was one of the more interesting ones unveiling several new tech products such as the 64 core Ryzen Threadripper 3990X CPU, the 3rd Gen Ryzen 4000 APUs, their latest Radeon RX 5600 XT discrete graphics card and new mobility GPUs.

What do you want to see in AMD's next-gen desktop APUs?
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