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AMD Has Now Definitively Confirmed Big Navi

(Image credit: AMD)

Back at CES a couple of weeks ago there was a Q&A session with AMD, where Gordon Ung from PC World asked: "Do you think that AMD has to have a high-end competitor in the discrete graphics market?" At the time, this was interpreted by many as a confirmation of a Big Navi GPU, but we felt that the phrasing of Lisa Su's answer was still too ambiguous. Now, AMD has published a 'The Bring Up' episode where Lisa Su was interviewed, which sorted out any doubt there may have been.

"I've heard a little bit through Twitter and Reddit that people are wondering about Big Navi. I can say you're going to see Big Navi in 2020" Said Dr. Lisa Su, AMD's CEO in the interview.

Additionally, she also expanded saying "There might be a few people wondering about Zen 3 as well, and I can tell you that Zen 3 is doing really well, we're excited about it, and I look forward to talking more about that later in 2020."

"I can say you're going to see Big Navi in 2020" - Lisa Su

Of course, if Big Navi was coming, it was going to be in 2020, so the big news here is that it is at last an unmistakable confirmation that Big Navi is coming. It is a surprising reveal like this though, as AMD usually doesn't comment on unannounced products, as Lisa Su highlighted in her CES interview. 

Back at CES, this is what she had to say about the topic: "I know those on Reddit want a high end Navi! You should expect that we will have a high-end Navi, and that it is important to have it. The discrete graphics market, especially at the high end, is very important to us. So you should expect that we will have a high-end Navi, although I don’t usually comment on unannounced products."

We found that this could have simply been a very well-rehearsed answer, as you'll notice that Dr. Su talks about what we should expect, and not what we can expect.

Let's Not Pretend To Know Everything

Of course, now that Big Navi is confirmed, we shouldn't jump to conclusions and say that AMD will be releasing an "Nvidia Killer" in 2020, as we've seen in many rumors around the internet. Just because Big Navi is confirmed doesn't mean it will be a green-team-beating GPU, especially considering that Nvidia's Ampere chips are expected to be revealed somewhere this summer, most likely in August at SIGGRAPH. Nvidia's Ampere GPUs are expected to be produced on the 7nm fabrication process, which purportedly will bring tremendous improvements in performance per watt.

Currently, the RX 5700 XT is AMD's fastest Navi graphics card, the performance of which approaches that of Nvidia's RTX 2070 Super. Given this information, a Big Navi GPU would have to make quite a performance jump over the Navi 10 GPU to beat the RTX 2080 Ti, which is a tall order. It's also possible that Nvidia's Ampere GPUs will steal the spotlight as soon as Big Navi hits.

  • bit_user
    you'll notice that Dr. Su talks about what we should expect, and not what we can expect.
    This is splitting hairs. There's no way she's going to say something like that, when it turns out that they have no high-end product in the near future.

    Whether or not it's Navi, strictly speaking, is the only fudge worth considering. However, with this latest statement, I guess we can safely assume that it is.

    Anyway, I hope AMD drops GCN compatibility from it. While that made sense for Navi 10, the industry will have had nearly a year to tune for the new architecture, and I suspect GCN compatibility came at a fairly high cost. I suspect the main reason they did it was mostly to give games consoles backwards-compatibility. Since games consoles won't be using Big Navi, they can just drop GCN and move on.

    Without it, you could easily imagine something that would beat Vega 20 by as much as the RX 5700 XT beat the RX 580, all while hitting a lower price point than Radeon VII's $700.
    Reply
  • derekullo
    The even more important question is if Navi "kills" a Geforce 2080Ti or the upcoming Ampere
    Reply
  • alextheblue
    bit_user said:
    Anyway, I hope AMD drops GCN compatibility from it.
    What do you mean?
    Reply
  • bit_user
    derekullo said:
    The even more important question is if Navi "kills" a Geforce 2080Ti or the upcoming Ampere
    It seems like this is a fairly knowable answer. If someone had some details on current 7 nm pricing, you could pick a price point and scale up Navi 10 performance to that amount of die area.

    Anyway, let's be realistic. Navi is good, but not that good. Perhaps it could tangle with the 2080 Ti, but I'm sure the 3080 Ti will be on another level.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    alextheblue said:
    What do you mean?
    Navi 10 introduced a new microarchitecture, which AMD calls RDNA. However, it also features built-in hardware compatibility with code written for their GCN GPUs, which started with the HD 7000 series, launched in 2012, and (probably) finished with 2019's Radeon VII and their upcoming Renoir APU.
    Reply
  • alextheblue
    bit_user said:
    Navi 10 introduced a new microarchitecture, which AMD calls RDNA. However, it also features built-in hardware compatibility with code written for their GCN GPUs, which started with the HD 7000 series, launched in 2012, and (probably) finished with 2019's Radeon VII and their upcoming Renoir APU.
    Do you have a source for that? Seems strange to have two different architectures in a compute unit. I thought the was the whole point of them keeping Vega for the pro market, Navi isn't as good at certain crunching use cases.
    Reply
  • spongiemaster
    derekullo said:
    The even more important question is if Navi "kills" a Geforce 2080Ti or the upcoming Ampere
    How about we set realistic expectations. We're still waiting for the 1080Ti killer that's been rumored since at least mid 2017.
    Reply
  • dorianh94
    spongiemaster said:
    How about we set realistic expectations. We're still waiting for the 1080Ti killer that's been rumored since at least mid 2017.

    While that is true, I have no doubt that it will beat the 1080Ti by a fair margin, seeing how 5700XT is already very close to 1080Ti level of performance.
    Reply
  • derekullo
    dorianh94 said:
    While that is true, I have no doubt that it will beat the 1080Ti by a fair margin, seeing how 5700XT is already very close to 1080Ti level of performance.
    A 3 year old graphics card should be a low bar to clear.

    To be fair, I would rather AMD focus on CPU than GPU.

    On the CPU side Intel has been pretty much sitting on their butt since at least the i7-4th Generation if not earlier.

    If 14nm++++ wasn't such a tragedy it would be funny.

    Nvidia's ray-tracing looks nice and may be controversial, but at least Nvidia is trying something new / progressing with tech.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    alextheblue said:
    Do you have a source for that?
    Yes, and - in a rare move for me - I'm not even going to cite one. You can literally go back and read any of the Navi launch coverage and they'll highlight this point.

    alextheblue said:
    Seems strange to have two different architectures in a compute unit.
    Yes! AFAIK, it's unprecedented, for a GPU!

    alextheblue said:
    I thought the was the whole point of them keeping Vega for the pro market, Navi isn't as good at certain crunching use cases.
    We'll see.

    GCN was billed as a throughput-oriented architecture, whereas Navi is more latency-sensitive and less dependent on concurrency to achieve good utilization. However, I wonder if they'll really stick with GCN in any market, since it has certain significant weaknesses - like, poor scalar performance.
    Reply