AMD RDNA 2 With H/W Level Ray-Tracing Support, VRS and 50% More Perf-Per-Watt Coming Later in 2020

AMD’s Financial Analyst Press Conference just got underway and we have learned a little more about team Radeon’s plans for this year. For starters, no there was no explicit mention of Big Navi (at least not yet). Secondly, yes RDNA 2 graphics cards will come later this year with ray-tracing support, Variable Rate Shading and a performance-per-watt improvement of nearly 50% (same as GCN to RDNA 1).

With RDNA 1, most of the efficiency gains came from the adoption of the 7nm node. If its successor is to deliver another 50% improvement in terms of efficiency, this time it’ll have to come from microarchitectural improvements.

As already known, the RDNA 2 GPUs will power the next-gen consoles as well as the upcoming Navi 2x lineup. The hardware will leverage DXR 1.1 (up from 1.0) to support ray-tracing effects in the latest games thanks to dedicated support in the RDNA 2 silicon. NVIDIA’s RTX titles utilize 1.0. We’re not sure what the new additions are, but it’s very likely that the next-gen Xbox Series X consoles will use it too.

There’s still no explicit word (yet) on how ray-tracing will work on next-gen Navi, but it will be a hardware solution, with support for DXR 1.1. Furthermore, RDNA 2 will join NVIDIA’ Turing and Intel’s Gen11 GPUs in supporting variable-rate shading (VRS).

As for RDNA 3, we’re looking at the 5nm node, and an advanced architecture, introducing similar gains as RDNA 2. It’ll launch towards the end of 2021. It’s expected to support full scene ray-tracing and mixed rendering approaches. We’ll keep updating this post as the conference continues.

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RDNA 2 will focus on three areas:

  • Real-time Ray-tracing and accompanying VRS technology to allow fluid performance without compromising visual quality.
  • 4K centric gaming GPUs. While RDNA 1 was aimed at providing the best performance for 1080p and 1440p gaming, RDNA 2 will focus on the enthusiast 4K market.
  • Lastly, RDNA will be a big step up in terms of power efficiency. Unlike 1st Gen Navi, the bulk of these enhancements will be derived from architectural upgrades. Expect 50% more performance per watt from these 7nm+ GPUs.

During the event, it was mentioned multiple times that RDNA 2 will debut at the end of the year. It’s possible that the new GPUs will launch alongside the next-gen consoles (Holiday 2020). That would make it seem like AMD is treating the console and PC markets equally. We’ll just have to wait and see!

Areej Syed

Processors, PC gaming, and the past. I have been writing about computer hardware for over seven years with more than 5000 published articles. Started off during engineering college and haven't stopped since. Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Divinity, Torment, Baldur's Gate and so much more... Contact:
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