After what seems like ages, there seems to be news on the high-end AMD GPU front. An AMD device codenamed "ATI-102-D18802" recently passed RRA certification and while this might seem like just a random string of digits, I used to trawl the now-dead Zauba all day long for relevant shipping entries which followed the same naming convention - and was quickly able to decipher it. The GPU in question is a much powerful variant of the Navi GPU (judging from the nomenclature) and here is the full story. That said, considering this is based on just a certification which could end up being scrapped/revised again for all we know, please do keep a pinch of salt handy.
AMD's Big Navi GPU gets getting its RRA certification, Radeon graphics cards preparing for a comeback in the high-end GPU market
I am sure AMD wanted to keep this under wraps and make a comeback, but as they should know from Zen, the leak scene reigns supreme in the end. Before I go any further, I want to clarify that passing an RRA certification is usually the first step in the final phase of getting a product to market. It can take anywhere from 3 months to 6 months before you finally see a polished product hitting the shelves.
The RRA certification is something all consumer ASICs have to go through in South Korea - just like in the US. Unlike the States, however, RRA publishes its certifications in the public domain, which is great for us because it allows us to sniff out interesting new GPUs that are in the official pipeline. The AMD ATI-102-D18802 GPU received its RRA certification yesterday, meaning AMD has not only finalized its plans for the upcoming GPU but submitted it to the authorities as well (no more changes in design are now possible).
The naming convention at play here is the one AMD used for shipping manifests during the Zauba years and something we were able to readily decode. To give you a recap: Hawaii boards were named C6XXXX, Tonga boards C7XXXX, Fiji boards C8XXXX, Polaris boards C9XXXX, Vega boards D12XXX and small Navi boards were named D18XXX.
In fact, if we are being specific about it, then the exact code names were:
- Hawaii XT had the C67101 code name.
- Tonga had the C76501 code name.
- Fiji XT had the C88001 code name.
- Polaris 11 had the C91103 code name.
- Vega 64 had the D12201 code name.
- 'Small' Navi had the D18205 code name.
You should be able to see a very clear pattern here. The first couple of digits represent the generation while the succeeding digits represent the relative performance metrics. The reason I know we are looking at a Navi GPU is because the three-digit alphanumeric sequence is the same: namely D18. The succeeding three digits represent the relative performance of the GPU and 805 represents a much more powerful variant of Navi compared to 205.
Considering it just passed the certification, we are likely looking at the RDNA2-based full Navi die that will support ray tracing at a hardware level. This is the same GPU that will power the next-generation PlayStation 5 and the Xbox as well (remember AMD designed Navi for the consoles, read more about that over here). In all likelihood, we are finally catching our first glimpse of "big" Navi. You might remember my exclusive published a year and a half back that predicted that the flagship Navi part won't land earlier than 2H 2019 or early 2020. Well, there you have it, folks, it's finally happening.
I do want to turn on the cold shower a bit here, however, just because a GPU has passed RRA certification does not mean you will see it on the shelves anytime soon. In fact, a minimum of 6 months is a very good time frame to keep in mind and this can easily extend to over a year. We spotted Vega almost a full year back on RRA before it was finally released - which should give you an idea of the time frames involved.