The year 2020 was an amazing time for both the PC and console world. We saw brand-new CPUs, GPU releases from both AMD and NVIDIA, and two next-gen consoles from Xbox and Sony. All of these releases saw major performance improvements thanks to the 7nm fabrication process from TSMC (and 8nm from Samsung).
But, TSMC has the 5nm process in the works and AMD is planning to base its RDNA 3 architecture on exactly that. This means we can expect even further performance improvements.
Why should you be excited for RDNA 3? There are a few reasons why. First, we have to acknowledge the fact that AMD finally brought something to the table that is powerful enough to battle against NVIDIA’s finest. Every card from the RDNA 2 lineup found a sweet spot on the GPU market. The RX 6800, 6800XT, and RX 6900XT are great competition against NVIDIA’s equivalents.
The second reason why we should all be excited about RDNA 3’s competitiveness is that AMD has not been present in the flagship/high-end part of the GPU market. The last time AMD came up with a counter to NVIDIA was exactly ten years ago in 2011 with the HD 7970 against the GTX 580 and GTX 680. The comeback of this type of rivalry will result in better perf/watt and better pricing.
Having said that, it is time to focus on the information we have about RDNA 3 and talk about exactly what we can expect.
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Currently, any kind of information regarding the release of RDNA 3, or often referred to as Navi 3 is just a rumor. But, official details about the release date and specifications are expected somewhere in middle or late 2021. Although, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of things could change, get delayed, etc. Nothing is set into stone.
Considering that most of the RDNA 2 lineup was released in November 2020, it is safe to assume that we will not be seeing any high-end RDNA 3 releases from AMD at least until the end of 2021. Even that is a reach. Based on AMD’s gaming GPU roadmap, they will have an advanced node ready for RDNA 3 before 2022. But, this roadmap is just for the development of the chip. This does not necessarily confirm a release of a consumer GPU.
Right now, mid-end and low-end GPU SKUs are expected. It is important to remember that these tech companies are making most of their profits from the more affordable products.
In Q1 and Q2, we can expect the release of brand new SKUs named RX 6700 and RX 6700XT which will probably go against NVIDIA’s upcoming 12GB RTX 3060 (and 3060Ti). Taking into account the $579 MSRP of RX 6800, both of these new SKUs will probably be listed under $450.
There’s no information regarding something more affordable, but an RX 6500 or at least an RX 6600 is anticipated in 2021.
A new 5nm fabrication process from TSMC sounds promising. Especially when you consider the performance per watt increase we saw from AMD’s old GCN architecture to its successor, RDNA 1. The 5700XT and 5700 offered a lot of raw rasterization performance for a very competitive price. The 5700XT sometimes even surpassing the 2070 Super which comes with a much more expensive price (at least $100+).
But, that’s not the most impressive part of the 7nm fabrication process. The impressive part was the monumental 50% leap from RDNA 1 to RDNA 2. The longer the architecture sticks around, the more optimization it can get for performance and efficiency (see Intel’s 14nm+++). To put it simply, the 5nm fabrication process will probably bring us even more efficiency and raw power. AMD claims that another 50% leap is expected.
For those that are interested in the details, numbers, and specifications, keep in mind that there isn’t a lot to share except a couple of rumors and assumptions. But, even that might be enough for some.
Multiple sources are rumoring that Navi 3x will be with a chiplet design which is something that we have not seen on the GPU market. We have seen that in AMD’s Ryzen processors though. The chiplet design in their processors is their secret formula for performance and increase in physical cores. Maybe this secret formula will work their graphics cards too.
Rumors say that a few of the GPUs in the RDNA 3 lineup will have two chiplets with 80 CUs. That is a total of 160 CUs. To put that into perspective, the current most powerful consumer graphics card from AMD has 80 CUs. With double CUs and streaming processors (SPs), more than double the performance is anticipated.
Another thing to note is that AMD’s response to the DLSS feature will probably be coming in 2021 which could bring additional performance over NVIDIA GPUs.
With the lack of official information for RDNA 3 and the 5nm fabrication process, it is difficult to predict the pricing of the Navi 3x lineup. Hopefully, there will be new details in mid-2021.
However, we can assume that the pricing will not deviate too much from the current pricing. It seems like both NVIDIA and AMD have hit a sweet spot with MSRP. There will find no reason to go for cheaper offers.
There may not be a lot of details regarding RDNA 3, but the pattern is quite clear, showing huge performance and efficiency leaps. All that is left is to wait and see.