AMD's Next-Gen RDNA 4 GPUs For Radeon RX 8000 Graphics Cards Break Cover
AMD's Radeon RX 7000 series graphics cards are based on the RDNA 3 architecture, and if you keep up with hardware news, you've probably heard of RDNA 3.5. That revision to the RDNA 3 design is not coming to discrete GPUs, though; it's strictly for integrated graphics. Instead, AMD's next Radeons will be based on RDNA 4. Little is known about the next-gen GPU architecture from AMD, but we may have just gotten our first clues.
In an update to LLVM, AMD employee Jay Foad added support for "new GFX12 targets gfx1200 and gfx1201." GFX12 refers to the next RDNA revision, that being RDNA 4, while gfx1200 and gfx1201 refer to individual GPU models using that architecture. We don't know anything about what those GPUs are actually like, and this patch note doesn't reveal any of that information. That's not to say that there's nothing to be gleaned here, though.
As you can see from this small sampling of "gfx" numbers, AMD's original RDNA GPU, the Radeon RX 5700 XT, was based the Navi 10 GPU, which was assigned the "gfx1010" moniker. Despite being a significant evolution of that design, RDNA 2 only necessitated a bump from 1010 to 1030; the last digit typically indicates something similar to the intended market segment. RDNA 3 moved the counter up to 1100, implying a much more significant architectural change.
If AMD's next-generation Radeon GPUs are jumping all the way up to "gfx1200", that could mean that the company's next graphics processors will be another considerable change from RDNA 3. That's probably a good thing, as while RDNA 3 GPUs are completely competent, they didn't really impress us in terms of power efficiency compared to RDNA 2. Similarly, the ray-tracing performance, while improved, still lags behind competitor NVIDIA. As a result, RDNA 3 GPUs can fall behind GeForce cards that are otherwise slower when you enable ray-traced effects.
We've already heard from previous leaks that AMD's RDNA 4 lineup is not going to include any high-end graphics cards. The reason for this, according to serial leaker RedGamingTech, is that AMD was planning a complex multi-chip design for RDNA 4's high-end GPUs which has since been canceled due to difficulties in getting it working. Supposedly, all of the RDNA 4 GPUs that will see release will be based on lower-end monolithic designs, and it's possible that they'll be released alongside a refresh of Navi 31.
Of course, none of these parts are expected to see release until the latter part of next year at the earliest. With that in mind, take any current leaks with a bushel of salt because there's still plenty of time for AMD's plans to change. Hopefully RDNA 4 can shore up AMD's power efficiency and offer some compelling mid-range GPUs, because the mid-range GPU market right now is kind of a disaster area.