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.
Having locked up an exclusive deal a while back, it was always a matter of when Nvidia would do some kind of limited edition GPU for Cyberpunk 2077. Yesterday, the company finally announced what it was: a bright yellow and black themed RTX 2080 Ti, styled after everyone's favourite Keanu Reeves simulator. There's just a small problem: there's only 200 of the GPUs in the world and, naturally, you can't buy one.Read more
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.
When the first generation of Ryzen launched, there was two reactions. The first was a breath of fresh air, appreciation for the return of proper competition in the CPU market. And the second was: can AMD stay in it for the long haul, or will Intel pull out their usual tricks and see off the competition within a few years? With the 3700X and 3900X, the answer's pretty clear. AMD sure as hell isn't going anywhere.Read more