AMD’s Navi GPUs Confirmed to Retain GCN Design

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.


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.

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.

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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 CardGPUCompute UnitsVRAMTDPPerformance Class
RX 3090 XTNavi 2064-225WRadeon VII + 10%$500 US
RX 3090Navi 2060-180W~Radeon VII$430 US
RX 3080 XTNavi 1056-190W~RTX 2070$330 US
RX 3080Navi 10528GB GDDR6175WVega 64 +10%$280 US
RX 3070 XTNavi 1048-160WVega 64$250 US
RX 3070Navi 12408GB GDDR6130WVega 56$200 US
RX 3060Navi 12324GB GDDR675WRX 580$140 US
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