Saturday, 16 May 2020

AMD: Navi at 7nm

Where all AMD video cards have used the GCN architecture since 2012, the manufacturer has switched to the new RDNA architecture with the launch of the Radeon RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT (codename Navi ). This architecture includes a renewed cache structure, lossless compression and more flexible control of the compute units . In addition, the architecture is suitable for much higher clock frequencies than GCN. Both the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 will use a video card based on a second iteration of this architecture.

Radeon RX 5700 (XT) and RX 5500 XT: 'Navi' at 7nm
The RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT, introduced in the summer of 2019, are not only the first video cards to use RDNA, but also the first GPUs to be mass-produced on the 7nm process of TSMC. Both maps are based on a fully or not fully activated Navi 10 chip, which consists of 2560 stream processors. 2304 of these are switched on with the RX 5700.

Below that we find AMD's most recent introduction, the RX 5600 XT. This card also uses a Navi 10 gpu with 2304 active cores, but with less memory and a smaller memory bus. At the launch, AMD boosted clock speeds at the last minute, suddenly bringing it close to the more expensive RX 5700. Unfortunately, the first batches of the RX 5600 XT were shipped with the 'old' clock speeds. Partly because of the corona crisis, the chance that you will get an old model if you buy one now is very large, so you have to manually flash it for the 'new' performance level. In the graphs you will find the RX 5600 XT twice: on the reference clock speed and on the 'new' clock speeds such as 'RX 5600 XT OC'.

The cheapest RDNA video card to date is the Radeon RX 5500 XT, which uses the smaller Navi 14 GPU with only slightly more half the number of units of account, namely 1408. This video card is available in variants with 4 and 8 GB gddr6 -memory; especially newer games with (very) high settings benefit from that extra memory.

The RX 5000 series video cards do not yet support real-time ray tracing, even though AMD has indicated that RDNA is basically capable of providing hardware acceleration for that. For example, the RDNA-based GPUs in the new Xbox and PS5 do support this. For the desktop, it is likely to wait until the second generation of RDNA GPUs.

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