Raja Koduri, former head of AMD's Radeon Technologies Group, left the building last year and joined Intel, leaving behind a giant question mark looming over AMD's future graphics endeavors. We will start to get some answers beginning with Navi. Ahead of Navi's launch, one of AMD's main board partners shared some information about pricing and performance.
Navi is expected to be announced either at Computex this month, or at the Next Horizon Gaming event during E3 in June, with products slated to ship in the third quarter of this year. As such, full details are just around the corner.
In the meantime, a product manager and PR director for Sapphire spoke to the press in China about AMD's upcoming Radeon graphics cards built around Navi. The rep said AMD's aim is to target two price points initially—$499 for an full-fledged "XT" product and $399 for tamer "Pro" model. If past rumors turn out to be correct, we could be looking at a Radeon RX 3080 XT and a Radeon RX 3080 Pro.
The rep also indicated that Navi will be "stronger than 2070," meaning NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 2070 graphics card, presumably in reference to the XT variant. That was not clarified, though given the price points, it makes sense that the XT would compete with the GeForce RTX 2070 while the Pro goes up against the GeForce RTX 2060.
To give a better idea of how things could shake out, here's a look at the leaked pricing versus existing MSRPs for NVIDIA's graphics cards, in descending order...
- GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition: $1,199
- GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Reference: $999
- GeForce RTX 2080 Founders Edition: $799
- GeForce RTX 2080 Reference: $699
- Radeon VII: $699
- GeForce RTX 2070 Founders Edition: $599
- GeForce RTX 2070 Reference: $499
- Radeon RX 3080 XT: $499
- Radeon RX 3080 Pro: $399
- GeForce RTX 2060: $349
Whether the upcoming Radeon cards end up being compelling options for the money remains to be seen. Assuming the rep is, uh...right on the money (see what we did there?), the XT part will need to consistently outperform the GeForce RTX 2070. Why is that? The rep also indicated that these first-run Navi parts will not include dedicated hardware for real-time ray tracing.
Ray tracing is not widely supported at the moment, though more games are starting to adapt it. So for an unbiased gamer who is looking to spend around $500 on a graphics card, ray tracing hardware in the GeForce RTX 2070 could tip the scales in NVIDIA's favor, unless the Radeon RX 3080 XT offers better rasterization performance. Interestingly, the rep said AMD's Radeon VII based on 7nm Vega will continue to be its flagship product.
The rep also indicated that ray tracing hardware will debut on "next year's new architecture." He's probably referring to the next version of Navi, similar to what will be found in Sony's PlayStation 5, which is already confirmed to support ray tracing.
There are a lot of other questions that have yet to be answered. For example, will this amount to a paper launch in June? Will there be enticing game bundles or other promotions? And will NVIDIA respond with new models or lower pricing, or both? Buckle up folks, it's going to be an exciting summer.