AMD Navi – July 7 release date given credence by GPU partners | PCGamesN

AMD Navi – July 7 release date given credence by GPU partners

The 7nm Navi graphics cards will be at E3, and be priced below the current Radeon VII... and benchmarks have started leaking

AMD graphics silicon

A pair of AMD Navi GPUs have been teased by Sapphire reps in a recent interview, promising the rumours of a July 7 Navi release date are true. The new cards represent the next generation of graphics tech from team Radeon. And we know they’re getting close because we’re starting to see leaked benchmarks spilling out from the usual places, i.e. Ashes of the Singularity and 3DMark.

The latest AMD Navi release date leak comes from an interview with two Sapphire reps at an event in China and talks about a pair of GPUs launching on July 7. That matches the Q3 window that has already been mooted after a Computex reveal.

Prior to this Dr. Lisa Su, AMD’s popular CEO, announced the Q3 2019 Navi release date on a recent company earnings call, therefore narrowing it down to a launch between July and September, though hopes the new GPU architecture would breed a range of high-end graphics cards was dashed when she confirmed they would be positioned below the Vega-based Radeon VII.

It looks likely then we’ll have a June reveal either at Computex or the recently announced Next Horizon Gaming event at E3, with a full launch a month later. There were already suggestions that Navi would be released at the same time as the Ryzen 3000 CPUs on July 7, which would be a hell of a double whammy… though would also represent a hell of an ambitious manufacturing target for both AMD and its super-busy silicon production partner, TSMC. And AMD doesn’t have a great history of making sure there’s enough product to match demand…

But why should you wait for the next 7nm Radeon GPU? What will AMD’s next-gen GPUs deliver to make them a worthy upgrade from the Polaris design, and will they really arrive alongside the new Zen 2 CPUs?

Vital stats

AMD Navi release date
Dr. Lisa Su has confirmed a Q3 launch for the Navi GPUs, with the latest rumours doubling down on that July 7 Navi release date. That would be 7/7, y’know, because 7nm and because a joint CPO/GPU launch is still very much a possibility.

AMD Navi specs
With the confirmation that the first Navi graphics cards will be positioned below the Radeon VII we now know that the new GPU architecture will be more of a direct successor to Polaris than Vega. But TSMC has promised the 7nm process allows for 1.6x the logic, which potentially gives AMD a lot of extra space to add in more GCN cores than the 2,304 in the RX 590.

AMD Navi pricing
AMD has confirmed that the pricing for the Navi GPUs will at least be below that of the flagship Vega-based 7nm graphics card. That still gives AMD a lot of room to move considering the top card is some $700. The latest rumours claim a $499 price tag for the top Navi XT card and $399 for its Navi Pro sibling.

AMD Navi performance
It’s still far too early to guess at performance figures, but the recent rumours have pegged the top Navi GPU as being able to outperform Nvidia’s RTX 2070 in terms of pure rasterised rendering performance.

AMD Navi GPU release date

What is AMD Navi’s release date?

AMD’s CEO, Dr. Lisa Su, confirmed the Navi GPUs will launch in Q3 this year, finally giving us a clearly defined launch window of between July and September this year. That means you can forget about the new Radeon graphics cards launching at Computex or E3 2019, but does mean that rumoured 7nm referential July release date is still on the cards.

That’s been compounded by the recently released then redacted interview with a pair of Sapphire reps at an AMD 50 event in China. That claims the rumoured July 7 release date is real.

There was earlier speculation the Navi cards would launch alongside the Ryzen 3000 series CPUs on July 7 this year – 7nm CPU and 7nm GPU, 7/7, get it? That would be following a combined announcement at Computex and E3 in late May/early June. The Taipei show could still hold a lot more details of the upcoming GPU generation, though it’s looking ever more likely that AMD will focus on the Zen 2 CPUs at Computex and leave the Navi announcements for E3 with the recently announced Next Horizon Gaming event on Monday May 27.

Typically anonymous sources recently proposed to WCCFTech that AMD’s Navi GPUs would trail behind AMD Ryzen 3000-series processors by one month, making the case for the Computex/E3 split more concrete.

And that launch offset would make a lot more sense. Asking TSMC to create that much 7nm silicon by the middle of this year would be a tall order, especially after its relatively recent manufacturing fails. I’d expect AMD would likely still prioritise the Ryzen 3000 CPUs over Navi, so we may just get a few of the top 7nm GPUs for the touted July 7 launch, and a longer wait for volume Navi production.

It’s not yet confirmed whether team red will opt for the RX 600-series nomenclature, or name the cards RX Navi, like it did with the AMD Vega architecture. There have even been some rumours AMD could try one-upping Nvidia and call the new cards the RX 3080, etc. But that might be setting itself up for a fall…

AMD graphics silicon

What are the AMD Navi specs?

A PCB claimed to be that of AMD Navi recently surfaced on Baidu, quickly scooped up by serial leaker Komachi_Ensaka. The board features a chunky 8+1 phase VRM, powered by dual 8-pin PCIe power connectors, and enough space for eight GDDR6 memory chips.

The board looks rather overspecced on power for the likes of you and me, and the target mainstream market, which could hint to this particular board’s evaluative role. But there’s also a chance AMD is pushing the GCN architecture to its absolute limits with the 7nm Navi architecture.

If that’s the case, maybe Navi needs every Watt it can get to compete with Nvidia.

The 8GB memory capacity has been more or less confirmed via the benchmark leak on the 3DMark database, where Apisak has spotted the GPU designation on a Generic VBGA test. It looks like an early engineering sample too, as its GPU is just running at 1GHz.

The latest rumours suggest a single pair of Navi GPUs will appear at launch, with a Navi 10 XT and a Navi 10 Pro card. No other specs were divulged in the Sapphire rep interview, however.

Another alleged source of illicit information on AMD’s next generation graphics cards comes from AdoredTV. The YouTuber has been a constant in the AMD Navi rumour game, but we’re still yet to receive confirmation on any of the specs. So, let’s just say these claims are dubious at best.

Nevertheless, here is what’s been alleged for the upcoming architecture – mountains of salt pending.

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The Radeon RX 3090 XT would be the top tier card from the company – fitted with 64 CUs. It is said to be fitted with a 225 watt TDP. There would also be a slightly pared down offering in the Radeon RX 3090, fitted with 60 CUs and a 180 watt TDP.

The Radeon RX 3080 XT will reportedly be based upon the Navi 10 GPU and fitted with 56 CUs, and, along with 8GB of GDDR6, and would be competitive with an RTX 2070. It would run just a little more power hungry than the RX 580, at 190W. Yep, supposedly higher than the RX 3090. Sure…

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At least in the memory department we’re a little more sure of what to expect. David Wang confirmed to us at Computex last year that AMD would be approaching gamers graphics cards with a focus on the most cost-effective and best performing memory for that segment – and that has to be GDDR6 memory right now.

“In a workstation/datacentre segment they’ll be more than happy potentially to pay the premium” Wang says regarding HBM2 memory. “But that technology may or may not be suitable for the mass majority of casual gamers. So I think different technologies might be more suitable for difference price segments.”

That doesn’t mean HBM memory is entirely relegated to the scrap heap, it has just been revived for the Radeon VII, but GDDR6 looks like the best fit for mainstream gamers. In either eventuality, Navi is prepped for use with both GDDR6 and HBM. If Navi is truly set to be the successor to the RX 500-series, GDDR6 will aid AMD in hitting the best balance between price/performance.

Finally, Navi is also rumoured to be the last graphics card built with the GCN architecture, in its current form, at its core.

AMD Radeon VII inside

How much will AMD Navi GPUs cost?

AMD has confirmed some sort of pricing positioning for the new range of Navi GPUs, with Lisa Su stating that it will be sitting under where the Vega-based Radeon VII is at the moment.

“From a positioning standpoint,” says Su in AMD’s Q1 earnings call, “I probably won’t go through it in great detail right now other than to say that it is 7nm, Navi, but it will be positioned below where, for example, our Radeon VII is positioned today from a price point standpoint.”

That tallies with the Sapphire interview, which claims the top Navi 10 XT card will launch at $499 and the next one down, the Navi 10 Pro, will be priced at $399.

AdoredTV, with a handful of “information”, reported AMD’s top Navi GPU will be the RX 3090 XT, and would offer performance above that of the Radeon VII for $499. Meanwhile, the RX 3090 will be roughly comparable with the VII for $430, and the RX 3080 XT coming in at $330.

There’s no evidence in support of those claims, and they don’t match with any of the more recent noises. With AMD seemingly keeping the Radeon VII in its current lineup, it seems incredibly unlikely AMD would undercut itself – or be able to.

AMD Navi performance

How will AMD Navi perform?

Even though we have zero benchmarks to go on at this point, and only a slight idea as to the market AMD are targeting with Navi, one of the few things we do know about this next-gen architecture is that it is going to be built on the 7nm FinFET process node.

Just how much of TSMC’s 7nm node performance AMD will be able to draw out of the GCN architecture is not yet known. Despite the natural enhancements of the node, the performance will still largely come down to AMD’s own ingrained enhancements within the architecture.

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There have been a slew of rumours about Navi’s eventual performance, ranging from it being ‘as bad as Vega,’ through to recent massively unreliable rumours suggesting GTX 1080 performance for just $250. Or maybe RTX 2080 performance for $250. Depends who you ask, which direction the wind is blowing, and who made up that particular bit of headline-baiting rumour-mongering.

The latest rumoured performance has the $499 Navi 10 XT card beating the Nvidia RTX 2070 for raw gaming performance, with the second-tier $399 Navi 10 Pro targeting the RTX 2060.

There have been other reports of Navi engineering samples being put through CompuBench tests, showing graphics performance alongside the Vega 56 and Vega 64 cards, but behind when it comes to compute. The 66AF:F1 PCIe ID is marked as unknown, which is what’s leading the speculation that it’s an AMD Navi GPU. That does seem unlikely given Linux drivers have already been released with a 66AF GPU designated as a Vega 20 chip, and 66AF:C1 has reportedly been seen as the Radeon VII ID.

As for power efficiency, this is something that David Wang has made clear is a top priority with the next-generation of graphics cards. The benefits of which has already been made apparent to team red with its first 7nm GPU, 7nm Vega Radeon Instinct for machine learning. GDDR6 memory is also set to improve performance over the last generations GDDR5 and GDDR5X.

“With the Vega 7nm we packed more and more stuff,” Wang told us at Computex, “and the power looks fantastic. Definitely a lot lower than the current Vega. That’s no magic, just the geometry scaling.”

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