Future AMD GPUs will “go hard” on ray tracing

AMD Radeon RX 9000 graphics cards, based on the forthcoming RDNA 5 architecture, will reportedly address the performance gap with Nvidia.

AMD RDNA 5 ray tracing

AMD has plans to address its currently lagging ray tracing performance in future GPUs, according to the latest rumors. The company has nailed rasterization performance for standard 3D game graphics, but while AMD ray tracing has improved with its latest GPUs, they still lag behind the new Nvidia competition for this advanced lighting technique. We’re going to have to wait for it, though.

The keen pricing and excellent rasterization performance of some of the latest AMD RDNA 3 GPUs, such as the Radeon RX 7800 XT, have earned them places on our best graphics card guide. However, AMD has been playing catch up with Nvidia on ray tracing for the last few years. Its first-gen RDNA lineup had no support for ray tracing at all, while its RDNA 2 and 3 GPUs have all struggled to keep up with the contemporary Nvidia competition.

That could all be set to change in the future, though. In the latest video from YouTube tech leaker Moore’s Law is Dead (below), AMD’s ray tracing performance is addressed, and it looks as though AMD is planning to nail it in a next-gen GPU architecture. There’s going to be a wait, though, as these changes are apparently likely to come in the company’s RDNA 5 GPU architecture, rather than the forthcoming RDNA 4 architecture that’s on the horizon.

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“It’s really RDNA 5 from the sounds of it that’s really going to go hard for ray tracing from what I am hearing,” says Moore’s Law is Dead, after talking to his numerous inside sources. “I can’t quantify it exactly yet, and so I’m just going to leave it at that when it comes to ray tracing performance.”

This isn’t the first time AMD has pointed to addressing its ray tracing performance gap in the future. In an interview with Club 386, AMD Radeon graphics boss Scott Herkelman admitted that “we just have to do better on future generations, making sure we have the right architecture for efficient ray tracing.”

In the meantime, it looks as though there won’t be a high-end AMD RDNA 4 GPU, with AMD instead focusing on providing fast performance at the ~$500 mark. Previous rumors have pointed to a new Radeon RX 8000 GPU providing RTX 4080 performance at half the price, and Moore’s Law is Dead says that this graphics card looks set to bring “30% higher performance to the $500 price point”, likening it to an RTX 4070 Ti Super that costs $300 less.

AMD clearly has no trouble making powerful GPUs for good prices, but ray tracing performance has been a thorn in its side, and Nvidia has also been well ahead of the curve when it comes to AI upscaling and frame generation using its Tensor cores. If AMD really works on these aspects, perhaps RDNA 5 could be the GPU architecture to beat in the future.

If you’re looking to build a gaming PC now, though, the new Nvidia RTX 4070 Super is your best mid-range option, while the RTX 4080 Super is a great high-end GPU, assuming you can find one in stock anywhere.