AMD Raytracing Allegedly Exclusive To High-End RDNA 2 Navi 2X GPUs, Low-End RDNA 2 GPUs Focus on Power Efficiency And Compete Against Turing GeForce 16 Series


The latest rumors on AMD's RDNA 2 GPU based Radeon RX Navi 2X graphics cards have leaked out which seem to indicate what to expect in terms of red team's ray tracing strategy to tackle the NVIDIA GeForce RTX lineup. According to PTT forums, it is reported that while AMD will releasing multiple RDNA 2 GPUs later this year, only flagship variants will feature support for ray tracing.

AMD RDNA 2 GPU's Raytracing Features Rumored To Be Exclusive To High-End And Enthusiast Radeon RX Navi 2X Graphics Cards

Yesterday, we covered the first alleged die sizes of three RDNA 2 GPUs for the desktop discrete GPU market. The information on the three Navi 2X chips was also sourced back to PTT forums. From the looks of it, AMD will be preparing at least three different RDNA 2 GPUs for its Navi 2X graphics card lineup. These will allegedly include the following:

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  • AMD Navi 21 (505mm2)
  • AMD Navi 22 (340mm2)
  • AMD Navi 23 (240mm2)

The source states that the AMD GPU die sizes are within +/- 5mm2 of the final dies. We will only know for sure when the GPUs launch. But you can learn more about the die sizes in our article here so let's focus on the other details that the rumor had to say.

It is stated that AMD's RDNA 2 GPUs will indeed be used in high-end and enthusiast-grade graphics cards arriving later this year, something which has already been confirmed by AMD themselves, but while there would also be lower-end and more mainstream options, the highlight feature, raytracing, would only be available on the top Radeon RX graphics cards.

This might not be a huge surprise for those who've been following NVIDIA's strategy with RTX and GTX graphics cards. Like NVIDIA, AMD would also feature raytracing on high-end variants, as per the rumor, and there are several reasons why this might be the case. First, high-end GPUs will be using bigger dies and would feature more capacity to support raytracing hardware which AMD will fully utilize to scale up its raytracing performance versus the competition. But just like the smaller Turing based dies, the Navi 2X lineup would also feature GPUs which won't have the capacity to support HW-level raytracing to run the feature at optimal frame rate.

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While it would definitely be possible to run ray tracing in a similar fashion to NVIDIA, who released a driver to enable RTX on GeForce GTX graphics cards, there won't be the necessary horsepower to deliver playable frame-rates. AMD might also split its RDNA 2 based Navi 2X lineups into two distinct categories, one with raytracing branding and the other without.

Entry Level RDNA 2 GPU Based Radeon RX Navi 2X Graphics Card To Tackle NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 16 Turing Family?

Other than that, it is also stated that while the entry-level cards won't be featuring hw-level support for raytracing, they would focus on higher performance per watt (efficiency). The entry-level or the more mainstream cards would be tackling NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 16 series Turing graphics cards which currently have no 1st Gen Navi based competitor in the market.

The GTX 1660 is faster than the RX 5500 XT 8 GB by up to 10% while the RX 5600 XT cost around $289-$299 US which puts it at the same price as the GeForce RTX 2060 (non-SUPER) graphics cards and not the 1660 SUPER or the 1660 Ti variant which have been out in the market for a while now.

Here's Everything We Know About RDNA 2 Based Radeon RX Navi 2X Desktop GPUs

The AMD RDNA 2 based Radeon RX Navi 2x graphics card family is also touted to disrupt the 4K gaming segment similar to how Ryzen disrupted the entire CPU landscape. That's a pretty bold claim from AMD themselves but leaks and rumors are suggesting that this might be the case for AMD's next-generation Radeon RX graphics cards.

AMD unveiled that its RDNA 2 GPUs will deliver a similar performance jump over the first-gen RDNA GPUs like Zen 2 delivered over Zen 1. The first RDNA GPUs delivered a massive 50% increase in performance per watt over GCN architecture and RDNA 2 GPUs are expected to do the same over RDNA 1, delivering another 50% increase in performance per watt.

According to the roadmap shared by AMD, the RDNA 2 GPUs would feature three key features that will be part of the new GPU architecture. First and foremost is the performance per watt increase which is due to a number of reasons. AMD will be shifting from TSMC's 7nm process to the more advanced 7nm process node. The new process node itself increases transistor efficiency on the new GPUs while decreasing its overall size, allowing AMD to cram more performance in a much smaller package.

The key changes that have led to a 50% increase in performance per watt include a redesigned micro-architecture with improved performance-per-clock (IPC), a logic enhancement that helps reduce design complexity and switching power and physical optimizations such as increased clock speeds.

AMD has also announced that RDNA 2 GPUs would feature VRS (Variable Rate Shading) and hardware-accelerated ray tracing. AMD is following suit with NVIDIA here who have already implemented the said technologies on its Turing GPU based GeForce RTX graphics cards. With the launch of the new consoles from Microsoft and Sony imminent, AMD is going to work to provide these features with its own optimization framework to developers for integration within next-generation gaming titles.

AMD has also recently showcased its RDNA 2 GPUs running Microsoft's DXR 1.1 (DirectX 12 API Ultimate) demo internally which utilizes hardware-accelerated ray tracing. AMD's approach to ray tracing is to offer simplified development and speedy adopting and that is definitely possible through consoles where the mass majority of game developers focus their efforts towards.

AMD's CEO, Dr. Lisa Su, has already stated that we can expect a new RDNA 2 GPU based Radeon RX high-end family and a 7nm RDNA refresh family to launch this year. The same was stated during the presentation in which it was stated that the "Navi 2x" lineup would scale from top to bottom and as the name suggests, would deliver twice the performance efficiency increase over the first-generation RX graphics cards.

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
Image Credits: (@DaQuteness)

One of the key features on the Big Navi Radeon RX GPU is that it is going to disrupt the 4K gaming segment, similar to how Ryzen disrupted the entire CPU segment. These are some bold claims by AMD, but if those rumored specifications are anything to go by, then these claims may not be that far fetched.

“With the Radeon 5000-series we are essentially covering 90-something-percent of the total PC gamers today,” says Chandrasekhar. “And so that’s the reason why no 4K right now, it’s because the vast majority of them are at 1440p and 1080p.

“That doesn’t mean a 4K-capable GPU isn’t coming, it is coming, but for here and now we want to focus on the vast majority of gamers.”

“Similar to Ryzen,” he says, “all of us need a thriving Radeon GPU ecosystem. So, are we going after 4K, and going to similarly disrupt 4K? Absolutely, you can count on that. But that’s all I can say right now.”

- PCGamesN

Once again, AMD in its own presentation emphasized enthusiast-class performance for the RDNA 2 based Radeon RX 'Navi 2X' GPUs so that's something to consider. The competition however from the other side won't just go eyes closed as AMD launches its high-performance graphics cards. The next-generation NVIDIA based GeForce GPUs are shaping up to be a beast on their own based on the early specs that we have seen.

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Rumors have also suggested that NVIDIA would aim for a late 2020 launch that would mean a direct competition with AMD's RDNA 2 GPUs based desktop graphics cards.  So it looks like AMD's RDNA 2 GPUs would compete against whatever is NVIDIA's next-generation GPU inventory. Q3 and Q4 2020 would definitely be interesting times for all the hardware enthusiasts and mainstream PC gamers who are looking forward to upgrading their PCs with the best hardware.