GPUs are also used with professional applications, AI training and inferencing, and more. I really wanted to run some AI benchmarks — like, really wanted to do that — but I couldn't find anything suitable that would work on the RX 7900 series. Sigh.
Part of that was due to the newness of the platform. I tested Stable Diffusion recently and got that working on both Nvidia and AMD GPUs, but AMD had to run under Linux and it used a ROCm and HIP package. That package wasn't updated to support Navi 31 / RDNA 3, unfortunately, which meant Stable Diffusion testing was out (for now). The same thing happened with another potential candidate (PugetBench-miniGPT) so, once again, I don't have any good AI benchmarks… yet.
That leaves professional 3D rendering applications that leverage ray tracing hardware, and Blender at least works on AMD GPUs. We've also got the SPECviewperf 2020 v3 test suite. Let's start with that.
SPECviewperf 2020 consists of eight different benchmarks, and we use the geometric mean from those tests to generate an aggregate "overall" score. Note that this is not an official score, but it gives equal weight to the individual tests and provides a nice high-level overview of performance. Few professionals use all of these programs, however, so it's generally more important to look at the results for the applications you plan to use.
AMD released updated OpenGL drivers earlier this year that greatly improved performance in certain professional applications, and that shows up in SPECviewperf. Using our aggregate score, even the lowly RX 6800 XT comes out ahead of Nvidia's fastest GPU. A few tests, like catia-06, creo-03, medical-03, and especially snx-04 generally favor AMD's GPUs. In fact, only 3dsmax-07 and solidworks-07 really favor Nvidia's GeForce RTX line right now, with energy-03 and maya-06 also giving the RTX 4090 the win.
That's because AMD tends to be a bit more generous with professional application optimizations on consumer hardware. Nvidia prefers to keep its fully optimized professional drivers locked behind the professional paywall — you'll need to fork out for an RTX 6000 to see how Nvidia fares with fully unlocked drivers.
Moving on to 3D rendering with the latest Blender Benchmark, we're running Blender 3.40 and three tests. Blender 3.40's Cycles X engine can run on AMD, Nvidia, and even Intel Arc GPUs. However, it's more like running ray tracing via GPU shaders as opposed to actually using the ray tracing hardware built into modern cards — unless you have an Nvidia card and use the Optix library — though it sounds like Blender 5.x will change that.
AMD's RX 7900 series cards show some definite improvements over the RX 6950 XT, but the 7900 XTX still falls slightly behind Nvidia's old Titan RTX in two of the three tests. That's despite AMD nearly doubling performance. We'll have to see if AMD can continue to close the gap with future releases.