Come on AMD; It’s time to talk about RDNA 2 and Next-Generation Radeon

Come on AMD, It's time to talk about RDNA and Next-Gen Radeon

Come on AMD; It’s time to talk about RDNA 2 and Next-Generation Radeon

A new Radeon graphics processor has been revealed, one which surpassed all of AMD’s existing Radeon lineup, an RDNA 2 graphics card which delivers new features for team Radeon and promised next-generation performance for gamers. Sounds great, doesn’t it. That’s Microsoft’s Xbox Series X. 

When compared to AMD’s RDNA flagship, the Radeon RX 5700 XT, the Xbox Series X promises a 23% more compute performance, 12 TFLOPS of raw GPU grunt when compared to 9.75 TFLOPS on the RX 5700 XT. Beyond that, we know that Microsoft’s Xbox Series X silicon is already being fabbed, Phil Spencer’s using it as his Twitter profile picture, and we know that the console will feature support for DirectX Raytracing (DXR) and Variable Rate Shading (VRS). 

We all know that RDNA 2 is coming, and the Xbox Series X proves that the architecture is ready for primetime. Beyond that, we also know that AMD can build graphics cards much larger than their Radeon RX 5700 XT on 7nm. If you need proof, look at the size of Microsoft’s Xbox Series X chip. 

The big questions for PC gamers today is where is RDNA 2, and why hasn’t AMD revealed it yet? The cynic in me would point at AMD’s existing RDNA lineup and say that AMD doesn’t want to undermine its existing product stack. Perhaps AMD’s RDNA 2 graphics card’s aren’t quite ready for release. That said, we know that Microsoft has had Xbox Series X development kits in the wild for months. That’s RDNA 2 graphics cards in the hands of developers, long before AMD has said a word about the architecture on the PC side. 

Now that Microsoft has discussed RDNA 2’s feature set, now is the time for AMD to come clean about Radeon’s roadmap. With next-generation features like DXR and VRS on the cards, AMD’s Radeon RX 5000 series has become a lot harder to recommend, at least on the high-end. We know that these features will underpin the next generation of gaming, and we need to hear what AMD’s plan are to support these features. 

What we know about RDNA 2

Officially, AMD has been mostly silent regarding its RDNA 2 architecture. We know its due to arrive this year, and AMD’s Radeon roadmap places the architecture on a 7nm lithography node, a refined 7nm process that should help deliver some improvements over today’s 7nm RDNA products. 

The name RDNA 2 also suggests that AMD has made several architectural enhancements over its existing RDNA lineup, perhaps in the form of higher clock speed potential, heightened power efficiency or the addition of all-new features. 

Come on AMD, It's time to talk about RDNA and Next-Gen Radeon

What Microsoft Said

Microsoft has promised support for hardware-accelerated raytracing on its Xbox Series X, a system with an RDNA 2 graphics card. With this in mind, AMD’s RDNA 2 graphics cards will undoubtedly release with support for DXR on PC. If this wasn’t the case, AMD would be shooting itself in the foot. 

Phil Spencer has also promised support for Variable Rate Shading (VRS), a technology which helps developers to push the pixel-pushing performance of graphics cards to areas of the screen that matter. With this technology, the performance of graphics cards can be moved away from areas of the screen where it will have little to no graphical impact and focused on areas where it can make a qualitative difference. This technique will free up GPU performance for where it’s needed, enabling higher framerates and increased performance headroom. 

Microsoft has also claimed that its Xbox Series X will support HDMI 2.1, a feature which will be critical if AMD wants to support the latest television screens at 8K 60Hz and at 4K 120Hz resolutions. 

  Microsoft reveals detailed information about its Xbox Series X Console - RDNA 2 confirmed!

Beyond these features, it is also possible that AMD’s RDNA 2 graphics architecture supports a form of DirectML machine learning acceleration. We discussed DirectML back in 2018, where Microsoft used it to intelligently upscale games on the fly. Some form of DirectML acceleration will likely be available on Microsoft’s Xbox Series X console, and if that is the case, we should also expect it on RDNA 2 graphics cards. Why was Microsoft working on gaming applications for DirectML if they didn’t plan to bring it to Xbox? 

The long and short of the situation is that we know that AMD has already created RDNA 2 graphics cards with Microsoft’s Xbox Series X console. We know that this console has shipping silicon and that it will release later this year. AMD needs to move PC gaming forward and release RDNA 2 as soon as possible; because PC gamers need to be ready for the next-generation of gaming.

As it stands, AMD’s strongest graphics card is not available to PC gamers, and AMD needs to address this. We hope that AMD has plans to reveal RDNA 2 at its Financial Analysts Day on March 5th, if not sooner. AMD needs to be clear with its Radeon roadmap, because if they don’t, they may see PC gamers start to transition to console platforms. 

You can join the discussion on AMD’s RDNA 2 graphics architecture on the OC3D Forums.