Don’t Expect AMD’s Big Navi GPU Until After Cyberpunk 2077

Don’t Expect AMD’s Big Navi GPU Until After Cyberpunk 2077
AMD CEO Dr Lisa Su holding up a piece of 7nm silicon from the Navi GPU generation. Image: Alex Walker (Kotaku)

AMD is finally going after the top-end of the GPU stack this year with their latest GPUs, and it’ll be fun to see how Nvidia responds in kind with their next-generation hardware. But if you were hoping to get your hands on some new cards before Cyberpunk 2077 launches – or even for some competition to lower the price of existing GPUs – then you might be slightly disappointed.

The company held its anticipated Investor Day last Friday Australian time, where the CPU and GPU manufacturer talked investors through its roadmap for the next few years. It’s basically an opportunity for AMD to explain how well their existing products have done, and to get investors excited about the product stack coming not just over the next 12 months, but how AMD’s pipeline looks in the medium term as well.

The big piece missing in AMD’s GPU offering has been a card that could properly compete at 4K resolutions, something to rival the RTX 2080 Ti. With 4K / 120Hz becoming standard in TVs, and 144Hz or higher refresh rate monitors default on the PC side, it’s not just enough to appeal to 1080p or 1440p gaming. People want more.

So we wait for “Big Navi,” which is what even AMD has started calling their first GPUs with real-time ray tracing support. In their investor day update, AMD confirmed (again) that they will have something to offer the top end of gaming, based on the second generation of their Radeon DNA (RDNA) architecture:

The AMD Radeon™ DNA (AMD RDNA) architecture was designed for gaming and is currently powering the award-winning AMD Radeon™ RX 5000 series GPUs. The next-generation AMD RDNA 2 architecture is planned to deliver a 50% performance-per-watt improvement over the first-generation AMD RDNA architecture. It will support hardware-accelerated ray tracing, variable rate shading (VRS) and other advanced features. The first AMD RDNA 2-based products are expected to launch in late 2020.

There’s a small, small hope that late 2020 could potentially be in September. But realistically, “late 2020” has always meant the fourth quarter, which is October, November and December if you’re looking at the calendar year. Nvidia’s launches have traditionally been around August – although some of the RTX cards didn’t ship in Australia until October – and there’s extra pressure to get cards out in time given their deal with CD Projekt Red and Cyberpunk 2077.

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So, if you were hoping that the flash new video cards of 2020 might all be reasonably priced by the time Cyberpunk 2077 drops on September 17, bad news. AMD’s telling their own investors that they’re not likely to be competing with their RDNA 2 based cards that early in the year, which means if Nvidia manages to get cards out the door in time – and that’s a big if with what’s happening to the global supply chain right now – they won’t have any competition at the top of the stack besides themselves.

But hey! Things could be worse. It just means everyone will have good cause to play through Cyberpunk 2077 on PC at least twice. God knows I will.

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  • Having been shopping for monitors lately, I’d love to be in the alternative reality where 144 is the default. Everywhere I looked was 1080 60fps default, with a choice of 4K or 120 (but ne’er the both shall meet)

    • I bought a Acer monitor (Nitro XV273K) around August last year that’s 4k and 144hz which I was going to link, but it looks like might have been discontinued 🙁

      I’d also be somewhat wary about looking for that exact combination, purely since 144hz 4k is still relatively new to market. The panel in mine is decent but nothing totally amazing tbh, and the hdr implementation is a bit rubbish (sdr is great though).

      • HDR in Windows is so awful still it’s not worth the hassle until you can use it in and out of games comfortably, tbh.

      • A lot of the monitors seemed to do one thing in particular well, just not lots of things. My hunt is a bit less urgent since the annoying pixel line across the monitor when I turn it on is disappear after a while, but I’d still like to get a nice monitor to replace it with.

  • if Nvidia manages to get cards out the door in time – and that’s a big if with what’s happening to the global supply chain right now – they won’t have any competition at the top of the stack besides themselves. This has been the case for the past 20 years or so, with no indication it is likely to change now, regardless of whether AMD gets something out the door on time. They simply cannot compete outside of the budget market.

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