There was a lot of hype and excitement surrounding Vega, the latest GPU architecture from AMD, spearheaded by former Radeon Technologies Group boss Raja Koduri (who is now at Intel where, among other things, is working on a discrete gaming GPU). When it arrived, Vega brought parity to NVIDIA's Pascal architecture, which at the time had been on the market for a year. Looking ahead, there is chatter that AMD's next GPU architecture codenamed Navi will not propel the company ahead of NVIDIA in graphics, either.
Navi's existence is not a secret by any means, though most of the details surrounding the next generation GPU architecture are scarce at the moment. Navi has been on AMD's roadmap for quite some time now. While there will be a refresh of Vega at some point, Navi will be a new architecture that is built on a 7-nanometer manufacturing process, which should in theory lead to faster performing graphics cards and better power efficiency to boot.
Where things get muddied is with AMD having said earlier this year that it will introduce a 7nm version of Vega aimed at machine learning. Whether it will launch as a consumer product for gaming is not clear. As for Navi, which is also a 7nm part, Fuad Abazovic at Fudzilla claims it will power high-end graphics cards and will instead be used in mainstream products, ones that compete with NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 1080.
"We have been sitting on this piece of information for a while, but maybe it's the right time to share it with you. Navi 7nm the 2019 chip will not be a high end GPU, it will be a quite powerful performance/mainstream chip," Abazovic writes.
It's not clear where the author is getting his information from, but if true, then Navi will make a 'thud' on arrival rather than the 'bang!' many are hoping for. Generally speaking, Vega already tops out at performance levels that are roughly in line with a GeForce GTX 1080, leaving the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti the king of the gaming hill (outside of Titan cards).
Put another way, AMD will not have anything to compete with NVIDIA's top-end graphics card through at least 2019, by which time NVIDIA will have rolled out a new GPU architecture of its own and furthered its lead. That's not the strategy anyone is hoping for from AMD. The company seems content to focus on mainstream parts, as evidenced by its recent rebranding of existing Polaris cards.
None of this is official information, of course, so here's hoping that AMD does in fact release a high-end version of Navi. All we can do at the moment is wait and see.