AMD’s star graphics architecture, RDNA, is only the beginning of AMD’s return to power in the GPU market. RDNA/Navi has brought us the excellent RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT GPUs, with more sure to follow over the next year at various price points. Despite how revolutionary RDNA is for AMD’s graphics architecture, though… it’s actually an in-between between their various GCN-based architectures (like Polaris for the RX 500 series) and what’s being called RDNA 2.
If the rumors abound are accurate, RDNA 2 is due for a release late next year. RDNA 2 will mark a change from a 7nm manufacturing process to a more-advanced 7nm+ manufacturing process, and with it, many new features. The biggest feature we expect to see in RDNA 2 that isn’t present in current Navi cards is real-time ray-tracing, to finally cover that particular feature gap with Nvidia.
In addition to ray-tracing support, RDNA 2 is also rumored to use HBM2E memory. The RX Vega series from AMD previously used regular old HBM2 memory for a great performance improvement over the GDDR5-powered cards of the time, and it looks like HMB2E will offer a similar performance improvement over GDDR6… at least in scenarios that benefit from more/faster VRAM. (High-resolution gaming should be much easier, for instance.)
RDNA 2 is also set to mark a change in strategy from AMD. For the past five or so years, AMD has seemed content targeting their graphics cards at low and mid-range, with occasional flirtation at the mid-high end of GPU tech. Base RDNA and Navi is already pushing into the mid-high end with the RX 5700 series launch, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see more high-end Navi GPUs released in the coming year before RDNA 2’s launch.
RDNA 2 looks like AMD won’t just be focused on competing with Nvidia: rather, they will be focused on exceeding Nvidia. After so many years of Nvidia -80 and -80 Ti GPUs dominating the high end with no competition, we’re excited to see AMD finally bring some much-needed competition to the highest-end GPUs. If they can cause an upset in the GPU market the way that they upset the CPU market with Ryzen, then we are all in.
In any case, the GPU market is about to get very interesting. We have new architectures from not just AMD and Nvidia on the horizon: Intel is coming, too, and we wouldn’t be surprised if their offerings end up rocking the boat even further. The more viable options there are for graphics cards on the market, the better it will be for consumers.
AMD, Nvidia, and even Intel may be fearing the upcoming 3-way GPU deathmatch. We anticipate it utterly.