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Is the AMD Navi 12 GPU actually powering the Ryzen 4000 APUs after all?

AMD Navi GPU

The unreleased, unannounced AMD Navi 12 GPU is utilising the exact same updated version of the red team’s Display Engine that it is set to introduce with the new Ryzen 4000-series Renoir APUs at the start of next year. The current Navi 10 and Navi 14 GPUs, used in the Radeon RX 5700 and Radeon RX 5500-series cards, only support DCN 2.0 while it is now clear that Navi 12 supports DCN 2.1.

So, what does that mean? Honestly, I’m far too stupid to actually know what difference that makes, or whether it determines what form AMD’s Navi 12 GPUs will actually take. The current speculation has been that Navi 12 will form the basis of AMD’s ‘Big Navi’ GPU, the ‘Nvidia Killer’ that has been spoken of in hushed whispers in the red corners of the interweb.

And the fact that it’s using a different version of AMD’s Display Engine could well mark it out as a more advanced GPU than either its RX 5700 XT or RX 5500 forebears, so maybe an RX 5900 to challenge the best graphics card lists. But there’s also the potential that it could actually mean the Navi 12 GPU is more closely tied to AMD’s Renoir APUs than we previously thought.

The latest information about the Navi 12 GPU has come from recent Linux driver patches, as such things often do, where it talks about a workaround to limit Navi 12 chroma. Again, this guy’s too dumb to know what that actually means, but in the patches it does refer to changes to the Display Engine Navi 12 uses, DCN 2.1.

We know from earlier Phoronix reports that the Renoir APUs will be the first parts to use the updated DCN 2.1, and the Navi 12 GPU components are the first we’ve seen have any mention of the new version of the AMD Display Engine. I don’t think it’s a huge leap to suggest that the two might well be related, despite the speculation about the new APUs actually using the Vega graphics architecture instead.

We’ve seen from leaked product listings that the top-end Ryzen 9 Renoir APUs, potentially the 8-core chips, will feature 12 CUs. And from the way AMD likes to name its APU graphics chips that wouldn’t put the Navi 12 out of the running in name at least.

But again, all this is speculation based on a few lines of Linux code. But then, so is all the speculation of ‘Big Navi’ and Vega being the architecture to power the graphics portion of AMD’s next-gen Renoir APUs…

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