The year 2020 was an exciting time in both the PC and console world. We saw brand-new CPU and GPU releases from AMD and NVIDIA, but we also got the long-awaited next-gen consoles from Xbox and Sony.
TSMC already has a 5nm process in the works, and AMD plans to base its RDNA 3 and Zen 4 architecture on that. As a result, further performance improvements are expected.
Let’s see what RDNA 3 GPUs will offer.
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Why Should We Be Excited For RDNA 3?
AMD has not been very active in the flagship/high-end sector of the GPU market over the past several years. The only exceptions are the Radeon 5000 and 6000 series. Both of these are based on the RDNA architecture.
The RX 6900XT easily exchanges blows with the RTX 3090 in raw rasterization performance. Keep in mind that this is currently NVIDIA’s fastest consumer GPU.
Although lacking in ray tracing, these RDNA 2 GPUs still are a great choice.
The last time AMD provided a counter to NVIDIA was more than ten years ago in 2011, with the HD 7970 against the GTX 580 and GTX 680. If AMD makes another competitive comeback with RDNA 3 to step up the rivalry, we should see a considerable improvement in price-per-performance from both companies.
These things are why we should be excited for RDNA 3.
- November 29, 2021: Reworked price estimates.
- November 22, 2021: Rephrased several sentences.
- November 15, 2021: Added new information on RDNA 3’s release date and modified text for improved readability.
- November 12, 2021: Improved specifications table layout for better user experience.
- November 8, 2021: Added rumor about 3D stacked Infinite Cache.
- November 3, 2021: Added information about RDNA 3’s tape-out.
- October 28, 2021: Fixed a few grammar errors.
- October 18, 2021: Added rumors about the PS5 Pro and the possibility of it using RDNA 3.
- October 12, 2021: Changed wording for improved readability.
- October 4, 2021: Added new changes regarding the core count of Navi 33.
- September 27, 2021: Made a few changes, mostly fixed some grammatical errors.
- September 20, 2021: Added rumors regarding the potential performance.
- September 13, 2021: Added more release date information.
- September 2, 2021: Added a table explaining the possible SKU lineup of RX 7000 and a new specification table of Navi 31, 32, 33 and 21.
- August 18, 2021: Added new specification leaks and a block diagram detailing the Navi 33 chip.
- July 28, 2021: Added some new leaks and removed some old ones to support AMD’s drop of Compute Units and the switch to Work Group Processors.
- June 23, 2021: Added more info on the release date and possible Zen3+ stop-gap solution.
- May 10, 2021: Added information on the potential performance of RDNA 3 GPUs based on a popular leaker KittyYYuko.
- April 6, 2021: Added official information claiming a 50% increase in efficiency.
Official details on specifications and release date should be available middle of 2022 or a bit later in the year. However, as of writing, there are quite a few worldwide issues regarding chip and semiconductor manufacturing, so delays are possible.
Nothing is set in stone.
Recent leaks suggest that both ZEN4 and RDNA3 could be delayed and might release at the same time. Specifically in Q4 of 2022. Whether or not this is true, we can’t know for sure but, considering AMD’s pattern of CPU and GPU releases.
Greymon55 tweeted that RDNA 3 has already been taped out. “Taped out” means the GPU die’s design has been finished. Of course, the GPU is still far from complete, but it means things are going in the right direction for AMD.
Also, Lisa Su stated that RDNA 3 and Zen 4 will launch in 2022 during the AMD Q2 2021 investors call, which means they are sticking with the original architecture roadmap.
There have also been talks about a 2022 PlayStation 5 Pro with AMD’s RDNA 3 and Zen 4, but take this info with a huge pinch of salt.
A new generation of the RDNA architecture on a 5nm fabrication process (from TSMC) sounds promising. It’s especially exciting after considering the potential performance and efficiency improvement.
Take the performance per watt increase between AMD’s old GCN architecture and RDNA 1 as an example.
The imposing part of the RDNA architecture was the monumental 50% performance-per-watt leap from RDNA 1 to RDNA 2. As the architecture matures, performance and efficiency improvements. (example: Intel’s 14nm+++ arch).
The 5nm fabrication process will bring other bonuses too.AMD claims that another 50% leap is expected.
For more specification-related information, check under the Specifications Rumors heading.
Multiple sources claim that Navi 3 will have a chiplet design. This is something that we have not previously seen in the GPU industry.
However, we have seen this same design in AMD’s Ryzen processors. The chiplet design of their processors is their secret formula for the considerable increase in performance and physical cores.
Maybe this secret formula will also work with their RDNA 3 graphics cards.
However, the problem with this kind of chiplet design is the increase in latency. But, with a set of fast RAM sticks, Ryzens may have lower total system latency compared to Intel.
Still, the benefits of a chiplet design are worth it as it effectively reduces the price of a CPU almost by half.
The increase of latency in CPUs is not a huge problem, but high GPU latency could lead to a severe downgrade in performance.
Both SLI and Crossfire technologies always had issues with latency between multiple GPUs, and we now know that running GPUs in parallel is not optimal.
Because of this, AMD has devised a unique solution: an active bridge that connects all of the chiplets. The first GPU chiplet would also be connected with the CPU directly via the Infinity Fabric.
Additionally, greymon55 leaked that Infinity Fabric could be 3D stacked for RDNA3. This will double the Infinity Cache up to 512MB (for Navi 31) and reduce latency.
Rumors claimed that Navi 31, a GPU part of the RDNA 3 lineup, will have two chiplets with 80 CUs. That is a total of 160 CUs. However, that didn’t materialize as AMD dropped CUs (Compute Units) entirely.
Instead, AMD’s flagship, and probably all of the RX 7000 GPUs, will use WGP (Work Group Processors). The rumor that Navi 31 will come with two dies on a 5nm node (GCDs or Graphics Core Dies) and one Multi-Cache Die on a 6nm node is most likely true.
We will use this diagram by Olrak29_ to help explain exactly what’s packed into those two GCDs and the single Multi-Cache Die.
Both GCDs will have 3 Shader Engines (SE) and each with 2 Shader Arrays (SA). This adds up to a total of 12 Shader Arrays and 6 Shader Engines in one Navi 31 GPUs.
Every WGP has 8 SIMD32s, and every Shader Array has 5 WGPs. In addition, each Shader Array has 5 Work Group Processors.
After doing the math, it’s clear that the RX 7900 XT will have 15,360 cores/streaming processors.
What can we determine from all this information? First, we’ll need to consider that RDNA 2’s flagship, the RX 6900 XT, has a total of 5120 cores; this means the future flagship has three times the cores.
In addition to that enormous jump in core count, rumors are circulating that Navi 31 will be rocking 512 MB of Infinity Cache compared to just 128 MB on the RX 6900 XT.
We can’t know for sure whether that’s going to lead to 3 times the performance in raw rasterization or other tasks.
A few older leaks suggest that RDNA 3 could be 3.0x faster than RDNA 2. KittyYYuko supports this.
|SKU Name||Navi 21 (6800 XT, 6900 XT)||Navi 33 (RX 7600 XT?)||Navi 32 (RX 7700 XT?)||Navi 31 (RX 7800/7900 XT?)|
|Node||7nm||6nm||5nm + 6nm||5nm + 6nm?|
|One -Monolithic||Two – Multi-Chip Module||Two – Multi-Chip Module|
|Memory||GDDR6||GDDR6||GDDR6(X?)||32GB GDDR6(X?) 18Gbps?|
|Infinity Cache||128 MB||256 MB||384 MB||512 MB?|
|Shader Engines (SE)||4||2||2 (per GCD)||3 (per GCD)|
|Shader Arrays||1 per SE||1 per SE||2 per SE||2 per SE|
|Work Group Processors (WGP||40||20||20 per GCD||60 – 30 per GCD|
|CUs||80||40||80 (per die)||120 (per die)|
|Release Date||December 2020||2H 2022||2H 2022||2H 2022|
Another thing to note is AMD’s response to NVIDIA’s DLSS feature, FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR), which could provide a bit of extra performance for RDNA 3. Although, FSR does also work for NVIDIA GPUs.
More rumors by greymon55 add a few changes to Navi 33 specifications. First, instead of 5120 cores like the 6900 XT, it’s going to be less than that. Specifically, 4096 cores. That is definitely lower.
However, Navi 33 should be faster than Navi 21.
We’ve seen frequent rumors about all the possible SKUs from RDNA 3 and its architecture, but we haven’t seen much about potential performance increases over Ampere or RDNA 2. At least we hadn’t until Tom from Moore’s Law Is Dead shared a few RDNA 3 and RDNA 4 whispers.
As seen in the image above, Tom is highly confident of a 60% performance leap over the previous generation, and that’s the minimum. However, we’re unsure if this 60% minimum is only for the flagship model (7900XT/7950XT) or the entire generation. This might be hopeful but is entirely possible, considering the switch to a chiplet design.
That’s not all, though.
With these performance increases, a higher price tag is expected on all SKUs. To be more precise, an entire tier jump in performance.
Energy efficiency should improve, but total power usage is also going to be higher. At least for the high-end models.
Another interesting performance-related rumor we have heard is about Navi 33 (7700XT). By now, we already know that Navi should be on a 6nm process with 128-bit GDDR6 VRAM. Fast memory and the 6nm architecture could put the 7700XT with a performance close to the RX 6900XT based on reliable leaker greymon55.
It is ambitious for a $450 card to surpass a previous-gen $1000 GPU, but certainly possible.
SKU Rumors And Price Estimates
Another leak/speculation by 3dCenter.org suggests that AMD’s RX 7000 SKUs will be a mix of RDNA 2 and RDNA 3.
Here’s a table to help you understand the new lineup of GPUs.
|Radeon RX 6000 series||Radeon RX 7000 series|
|Navi 31 (5nm + 6nm?)|
RX 7900 – between $1000 and $1500
|Navi 32 (5nm + 6nm)|
RX 7800 – between $600 and $1000
|Navi 21 – RX 6800/RX 6900|
|➔||Navi 33 (6nm)|
RX 7700 – estimated at $450
|Navi 22 – RX 6700|
|➔||Navi 22 refresh or a 6nm refresh|
RX 7600 – estimated at $350
|Navi 23 – RX 6600|
|➔|| Navi 23 refresh or a 6nm refresh |
RX 7500 – estimated at $250
|Navi 24 – RX 6500 |
|➔||Navi 24 refresh or a 6nm refresh|
RX 7400 – estimated at $150
As seen in the table above, there will probably only be two or three “true” RDNA 3 cards, while the rest will be a refresh of the SKUs from the last generation.
Whether the refresh is just going to involve a frequency bump, a price drop, or a jump to 6nm, we do not know.
Either way, with the current state of the GPU market, we welcome these kinds of price drops.