We now have official specs for the AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT, yet another poorly kept secret in the land of GPUs you can't actually buy. We've been expecting Navi 22 to join the ranks of the best graphics cards and land somewhere near the RTX 3060 Ti in our GPU benchmarks hierarchy for several months now, and it will officially arrive on March 18, 2021, at 9am Eastern. It will be completely sold out by 9:00:05, and based on recent events like the RTX 3060 12GB, we doubt more than a handful of people will manage to acquire one at whatever MSRP AMD sets.
Update: Check out our Radeon RX 6700 XT review that's now live.
Speaking of which, AMD revealed that it plans to launch the RX 6700 XT with a starting price of $479. Considering AMD expects it to be faster than the RTX 3070, never mind the RTX 3060 Ti, that's a reasonable target. The die size also appears to be relatively large, thanks to a still-sizeable Infinity Cache. Here's the full list of known specs:
The AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT comes in with the highest GPU clocks we've to date, 2424 MHz. The RX 6800 XT and RX 6900 XT both have 2250 MHz game clocks, though in actual benchmarks, we've seen speeds of more than 2500 MHz already — the Game Clock is more of a conservative boost clock. Even with a drop down to 40 CUs (from 60 CUs on the RX 6800), the higher clock speeds should prove relatively potent. Raw theoretical performance sits at 12.4 TFLOPS, and assuming AMD uses 16Gbps GDDR6 again (which is likely), it will have 384GBps of bandwidth. Except, it still has a honking 96MB L3 Infinity Cache.
We were very curious about how far AMD would cut down the Infinity Cache from Navi 21. The answer appears to be "not very much." The Biggest Navi chip has up to 80 CUs and 128MB of Infinity Cache, so AMD cut the computational resources in half but only lopped off a quarter of the cache. That should keep cache hit rates high, which means effective bandwidth — even from a 192-bit memory interface — should be much higher than Nvidia's similarly-equipped RTX 3060 12GB.
Let's go back to that TFLOPS number for a moment, though. 12.4 TFLOPS may not sound like much, but it's a big jump from the previous gen 40 CU part. The RX 5700 XT had a theoretical 9.8 TFLOPS, and we know the Infinity Cache allows the GPU to get closer to that maximum level of performance in games. That means a 40-50 percent jump in performance might be possible. On the other hand, the RX 6800 with 60 CUs, even at lower clocks, is rated for 16.2 TFLOPS, a 31% increase in compute potential. It also has 33% more memory bandwidth, which means on average it should be at least 20% faster than the 6700 XT, for about 20% more money (well, if MSRP was anything but a fantasy right now).
There are other indications this will still be a performant card, like the 230W board power (just 20W lower than RX 6800). And then there's the die shot comparison.
AMD didn't reveal all of the specs, but based on that image, it looks like RX 6700 XT / Navi 22 will max out at 96 ROPs (Render Outputs), and the total die size looks to be in the neighborhood of 325mm square, with around 16-17 billion transistors (give or take 10%). That's quite a bit smaller than Navi 21 (520mm square and 26.8 billion transistors), and perhaps the above images aren't to scale, but clearly, there's a lot of other circuitry besides the GPU cores that still needs to be present — the cores and cache only account for about half of the die area.
By way of comparison, Nvidia's GA106 measures 276mm square with 12 billion transistors, while the GA104 has 17.4 billion transistors and a 393mm square die size. AMD's Navi 22 should be competitive with GA104, but with a smaller size thanks to its TSMC N7 process technology. However, TSMC N7 costs more and is in greater demand, which leads back to the $479 price point.
Performance, as usual, will be the real deciding factor on how desirable the RX 6700 XT ends up being. AMD provided some initial benchmark results — using games and settings that generally favor its GPUs, naturally. Take these benchmarks with a grain of salt, in other words, but even reading between the lines, the 6700 XT looks pretty potent.
That's eight games, three with definite AMD ties (Assassin's Creed Valhalla, Borderlands 3, and Dirt 5) and two with Nvidia ties (Cyberpunk 2077 and Watch Dogs Legion). AMD says "max settings," but we suspect that means max settings but without ray tracing effects. Still, there are a lot of games that don't use RT, and of those that have it, the difference in visual quality isn't even that great for a lot of them, so rasterization performance still reigns as the most important factor. Based on AMD's data, it looks like the RX 6700 XT will trade blows with the RTX 3070.
AMD had a few other announcements today. It's bringing resizable BAR support, called AMD Smart Access Memory, to Ryzen 3000 processors. That excludes the Ryzen 3200G and 3400G APUs, which of course, are technically Zen+ architecture and have a limited x8 PCIe link to the graphics. AMD also didn't mention any Ryzen 4000 mobile or desktop APUs (i.e., Renoir), so those may not be included either, but every Zen 2 and Zen 3 AMD CPU will have Smart Access Memory.
AMD didn't discuss future Navi 22-derived graphics cards, but there will inevitably be more products built around the GPU. From what we can tell, RX 6700 XT uses the fully enabled chip with 40 CUs. Just as we've seen with Navi 21 and previous GPUs like Navi 10, not all chips are fully functional, and harvesting those partial dies is a key component of improving yields. We expect to see an RX 6700 (non-XT) at the very least, and there are opportunities for OEM-only variants as well (i.e., similar to the RX 5500 non-XT cards of the previous generation). We'll probably see the RX 6700 (or whatever the final name ends up being) within the next month.
Again, pricing and availability are critical factors for any GPU launch, and while we have no doubt AMD will sell every RX 6700 XT it produces, we just hope it can produce more than a trickle of cards. When asked about this, AMD issued the following statement:
"We hear, and understand, the frustration from gamers right now due to the unexpectedly strong global demand for graphics cards. With the AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT launch, we are on track to have significantly more GPUs available for sale at launch. We continue to take additional steps to address the demand we see from the community. We are also refreshing stock of both AMD Radeon RX 6000 Series graphics cards and AMD Ryzen 5000 Series processors on AMD.com on a weekly basis, giving gamers and enthusiasts a direct option to purchase the latest Ryzen CPUs and Radeon GPUs at the suggested etail and retail price."
That's nice to hear, but we remain skeptical. We've been tracking general trends in the marketplace, and it's clear Nvidia continues to sell far more graphics cards than AMD, and it's still not coming anywhere close to meeting demand. Will Navi 22 buck that trend? Our Magic 8-Ball was cautiously optimistic, as you can see:
All joking aside, we're looking forward to another likely frustrating GPU launch. There's no indication that AMD will follow Nvidia's example and try to limit mining performance on its future GPUs, but with or without high mining performance, the RX 6700 XT will inevitably sell out. There's at least some good news in recent GPU mining profitability trends, however: Cards that were making $12–$15 per day last month are now mining in the $6–$8 range and dropping. That's not going to stop mining completely, but hopefully it means fewer people trying to start up mining farms if the potential break-even point is more than a year away, rather than 3–4 months out.
The AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT officially launches on March 18. We'll have a full review at that time. Given the pictures AMD sent along, we expect there will be dual-fan reference cards, but AMD will want to shift the bulk of cards over to its AIB partners. We should see various models from all the usual partners, and we're eager to see how the GPU fares in independent testing. Check back on March 18 to find out.
Below is the full slide deck from AMD's announcement today.
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