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Mysterious AMD RDNA 2 GPU Codenamed Sienna Cichlid Spotted in Linux Patches, Speculated To Be The Big Navi GPU For Enthusiast Radeon RX Graphics Cards

By Hassan Mujtaba  / 

A mysterious AMD RDNA 2 GPU has been spotted within the latest Linux patches & it's speculated that this could be the Big Navi GPU powering next-generation Radeon RX graphics cards that all enthusiasts are waiting for. This specific AMD GPU was spotted by the folks at Phoronix and is codenamed Sienna Cichlid.

AMD's Mysterious Sienna Cichlid GPU Spotted, Speculated To Be RDNA 2 Based Big Navi Chip For Enthusiast Radeon RX Graphics Cards

The Sienna Cichlid codename itself is quite fishy. AMD moved to star naming conventions for its next-generation parts starting Polaris. We got to see Vega which was the last of the GCN GPUs and now we are soon going to get the 2nd update to the RDNA architecture in the form of RDNA 2. The RDNA 2 lineup will consist of several Navi GPUs. While the Star naming conventions for these GPUs aren't changing anytime soon, it looks like, at least internally, they go by a different set of naming schemes as is evident by this leak.

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Sienna Cichlid is a GPU from AMD. This patch set adds support for it including power management, display, kfd, interrupts, gfx, multi-media, etc. The new register headers are really big so I haven't sent them to the list. Alex Deucher (AMD) via freedesktop.org

The same patch also lists down GFX1030 which is the codename for the RDNA 2 lineup while RDNA 1 uses the GFX1010 codename. As for the GPU itself, there are a certain set of features the Navi based GPU adds over existing Navi chips such as:

There are a total of 207 patches added to the AMD Linux driver which can be viewed here. While there's not much information to dissect from within the patches, Komachi (via Videocardz) provides his understanding of why this GPU could indeed be the Big Navi GPU. The AMD Navi 21 has been presumed to be the Big Navi GPU which will power AMD's enthusiast-grade Radeon RX lineup later this year. It is stated that Linux 5.9 merge window opens in August while a stable launch around Q4 2020 in October.

According to Komachi, the Navi based Sienna Cichlid GPU has appeared as variant 40 before too. This specific variant is matched with Navi 21_P_A0  which was found in another leaked codename file. There are several other variants too which have yet to be found and could use different code names. Just a couple of days ago, we got to see another leak that listed down several RDNA 2 and RDNA 1 Radeon RX GPUs.

AMD’s Big Navi GPU Codenamed ‘Sienna Cichlid’ Will Allegedly Feature 5120 Stream Processors

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.

A recent rumor hinted that only AMD's high-end RDNA 2 GPU lineup would feature ray-tracing technology on hardware-level whereas the entry-tier and mainstream lineup will focus on higher performance efficiency, similar to how NVIDIA distinguishes its GeForce RTX and GeForce GTX line of Turing graphics cards.

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:

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 both NVIDIA and AMD are planning their next-generation and flagship gaming graphics cards to hit streets by September 2020.  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.

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