AMD Talks GPU Power Consumption And If Gamers Favor Efficiency Or Performance
When AMD was first announcing the RDNA 3 architecture around the release of its Radeon RX 7900 XT and XTX graphics cards, the watchword for the new design was "power efficiency". AMD endlessly emphasized that efficiency was the end goal for its new architecture, and promised huge efficiency gains out of RDNA 3.
Whether those efficiency gains actually came to pass depends on the specific benchmark you're using, but generally the case is "no." NVIDIA has a process technology advantage on AMD right now, and unsurprisingly, AMD's current GPUs trail the Ada Lovelace parts in efficiency.
As an example, AMD's upcoming Navi 32-based GPUs—the Radeon RX 7700 XT and Radeon RX 7800 XT—are both spec'd for total graphics power ratings of around 250 watts, while the competing GeForce RTX 4070 has a TGP rating of just 200 watts. Club386 asked AMD graphics honcho Scott Herkelman about this difference, and this is what he had to say:
We look at perf per watt on every chart when bringing all chips to market. In notebooks, it matters greatly. In desktop, however, it matters, but not to everyone. There are some people who are really concerned about power; others don't care as much. We definitely want to make a better perf-per-watt chip. [...] Power is definitely a prime initiative.He's not wrong, and all you need to look at to know this for yourself is the willingness of PC gaming enthusiasts to spend bundles of cash on exotic cooling (itself drawing even more power) for outsized and overclocked processors. Truly, some people don't care about the efficiency of their system if it leads to the best gaming performance.
It's still good to hear that AMD is focusing on power efficiency, though. As much as some folks might not mind, most of the rest of us would really prefer not to have 350-watt graphics cards with gigantic three- and four-slot coolers. Not only is it rough on your power supply and your power bill, but it also limits your chassis options, and it's just tedious to have in your system if you need to, say, mess with your M.2 slots or whatever.
The rest of the interview with Club386 has some pretty interesting insights. We won't repeat everything here, but a few highlights are that Herkleman promises to improve AMD's weak ray-tracing performance, that he thinks the $50 price gap between the RX 7700 XT and RX 7800 XT is "a big deal", that those upcoming cards were going to have 12VHPWR connectors originally, and that AMD won't be releasing any more RDNA 3 GPUs.
That last point is particularly notable because we're already hearing rumors about RDNA 4, including that it may come around sooner than expected. Is this because AMD feels that RDNA 3 isn't as competitive as it would like? We'll probably never know, but here's looking forward to AMD's next architecture as its final RDNA 3 GPUs release.