It’s official. AMD RDNA 2 will rise up on October 28, following a short teaser video about Radeon RDNA 2 GPUs. After months of speculations and leaks about the next generation graphics cards, we’re close to getting a taste of what AMD has in store to rival Nvidia’s recently announced RTX 3000 lineup.
It’s highly likely that this upcoming AMD graphics card is set to dethrone the reigning champ, RTX 2080 Ti. This is supported by a more recent report from Coreteks that asserts AMD’s flagship graphics card will offer performance on par with the Nvidia RTX GeForce 2080 Ti and will be launched as a rival to the Ampere-based GeForce RTX 3080.
AMD RDNA 2 will be the graphics architecture behind both the Xbox Series X and Playstation 5, as well, supporting all the next-generation features like variable rate shading and ray tracing – even though there’s been a rumor that ray tracing support won’t be there all the way down the product stack.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? AMD's hopefully high-end graphics card
- When is it out? Expected to launch on October 28, 2020
- What will it cost? No one knows, but it probably won't be cheap
AMD Big Navi release date
It seems like AMD Big Navi release date rumors have been everywhere since the very beginning of time – or at least since Navi rumors first started appearing in late 2018. Initially, we had heard that Big Navi would be launching at Computex – but Computex didn’t even happen.
Days after Nvidia’s announcement of the RTX 3080 however, AMD teased the launch of both its Zen 3 desktop processors and RDNA 2 graphics cards, with the latter expected to come in right before Halloween on October 28 – just a couple weeks before the November 10 launch of the Xbox Series X that the graphics architecture will be powering.
AMD Big Navi price
AMD has traditionally enjoyed a reputation for providing more affordable products than their competition, but we're not so sure that's going to extend to Big Navi.
And to back this up, we'd like to point to the AMD Radeon VII. With this graphics card, AMD genuinely provided performance that was pretty close to what the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 provided at the time, while sitting with a price tag of $679 (about £540, AU$970), which was very close to the RTX 2080's $699 (£649, AU$1,119) price tag at the time.
Now, since launching its Navi lineup, AMD has put some price pressure on Nvidia's mid-range lineup, most notably baiting Nvidia into lowering its prices on its Super cards at the last minute. So, we might see something that challenges the RTX 2080 Ti for maybe $200 (£200, AU$300) less than that card's MSRP, but don't expect graphics card prices to drop to where they were before Nvidia Turing made everything more expensive.
AMD Big Navi specs and features
We have heard so many different rumors about what the 'Big Navi' card will eventually look like, but we're only really diving into what's actually feasible here.
What we know is that AMD is planning on dropping a 4K-ready graphics card that can handle ray tracing in 2020. That much comes directly from AMD CEO Lisa Su, who came out in an interview and said "I can say you’re going to see Big Navi in 2020."That's definitely a blunt way to tell us to expect the high-end GPU this year.
Then, during AMD's financial day, AMD doubled down on RDNA 2 coming, with a slide saying that the top-of-stack graphics cards would not only provide "Uncompromising 4K gaming," but that it will also feature hardware-based ray tracing and variable rate shading – two features already present in Nvidia Turing GPUs.
Unfortunately, we have to take this rumor with a grain of salt. Newer rumors suggest that only flagship variants of AMD’s RDNA 2 GPUs will feature ray tracing. It seems that the feature will now be reserved only for AMD’s high-end and enthusiast-grade Navi 2X GPUs. And, that’s apparently due to the lower-end and more mainstream options not having the capacity to support hardware-level ray tracing at an optimal frame rate.
Beyond that, we have seen rumors that suggest the RDNA 2 flagship will feature 80 compute units, which if each compute unit has the same amount of Streaming Processors (SPs) as the original RDNA graphics cards – we could see 5,120 SPs on a single GPU – but it could be even more.
Of course, that's a lot of silicon to cool, and AMD's current blower-style coolers probably wouldn't be sufficient. Even in the transition from Pascal to Turing, Nvidia abandoned blower-style coolers in favor of more efficient dual-fan designs, and word on the street is that AMD could be doing the same thing.
What is perhaps more important is that the rumors are saying that Big Navi could be up to 30% faster than the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, which would frankly be amazing if true – that card can already destroy pretty much every game at 4K, so a further 30% boost could probably mean that we'll see more accessible 4K gaming lower in the product stack.
At the end of the day, while we do have all of this juicy speculation, we don't know what will ultimately end up being true and what won't be. And, even if AMD Big Navi ends up blowing Nvidia Turing out of the water, it's entirely possible that the RTX 3080 may be close behind. Either way, 2020 is going to be an exciting year for the best graphics cards.
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