AMD’s Navi GPUs Confirmed to Retain GCN Design

Apr 28, 2019
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AMD has already started developing drivers for Navi on the Linux platform. The latest bit of code shows Navi to continue the trend of GCN-based GPUs.

Navi is Set to be Based on GCN

Phoronix recently discovered references to Navi while monitoring various Git repositories. The AMDGPU LLVM back-end is now seeing ‘GFX1010’, and with GFX900 being Vega, GFX1010 could only be Navi.

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The snippets of code indicating the usage of GCN are as follows.

  • EF_AMDGPU_MACH_AMDGCN_LAST =
  • EF_AMDGPU_MACH_AMDGCN_GFX1010

Phoronix claims Navi support is unlikely to be seen within the upcoming Linux 5.2 Kernel and may be held back until the Linux 5.3 Kernel release. The current release windows for Linux 5.3 stable is the September release. The Linux 5.3 kernel may be the first Linux kernel bringing mainstream Navi support, and assuming Navi releases sometime between May and July, we may not see much support for these GPUs until Linux 5.3 is released. Until then, Linux users may be required to jump through some hoops to get their shiny new Navi GPUs working properly.

We had previously seen Navi being referred to as a post-GCN design, meaning it could potentially bypass the 4096 SP limit of GCN, but this is not the case. In the past, claims have been made that the GCN architecture would require significant tweaks to allow for additional SPs, to the point where a completely new architecture would have increased appeal. GCN had been designed while 28nm was the cutting edge, and has not been tailored to take advantage of the benefits of 7nm.

GCN is a memory starved design as well, requiring the use of expensive HBM for performance gains, though it has been reported that Navi will take advantage of GDDR6. This can be seen when comparing the Radeon RX Vega 64 and Radeon VII. Both GPUs are based on the Vega architecture, with the Radeon VII clocked slightly higher, but with over double the memory bandwidth.

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Navi Release Date

Currently, rumors are pointing at a possible revealing at Computex, followed by the full launch with Ryzen 3000 on 7/7, in reference to 7nm.

What Comes Next? Arcturus

AMD Radeon RX Navi

At this point in time, we do not know a whole lot about AMD’s next-generation Arcturus microarchitecture, but what we do know is GPU naming schemes will be returning in a simpler, familiar form, similar to the way Fiji referred to R9 Fury GPUs and Hawaii referred to R9 290 GPUs. Arcturus is believed to be based upon 7nm+.

Alleged AMD Radeon RX 3000 Series Specifications

Graphics Card GPU Compute Units VRAM TDP Performance Class
(Competition)
Price
(RUMORED)
RX 3090 XT Navi 20 64 - 225W Radeon VII + 10% $500 US
RX 3090 Navi 20 60 - 180W ~Radeon VII $430 US
RX 3080 XT Navi 10 56 - 190W ~RTX 2070 $330 US
RX 3080 Navi 10 52 8GB GDDR6 175W Vega 64 +10% $280 US
RX 3070 XT Navi 10 48 - 160W Vega 64 $250 US
RX 3070 Navi 12 40 8GB GDDR6 130W Vega 56 $200 US
RX 3060 Navi 12 32 4GB GDDR6 75W RX 580 $140 US

Products mentioned in this post

Radeon VII
Radeon VII
USD 900
RX Vega 64
RX Vega 64
USD 588

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