This has been a big year for AMD, there is no doubt about that. Having launched a new CPU and GPU architectures (Zen and Vega, respectively), the company thrust itself back into relevancy in the high-end market, whereas previously the top shelf was the exclusive domain of rival Intel. So, what's next? On the GPU side, AMD is expected to roll out its Navi architecture sometime next year, with references to its next generation GPU already showing up in driver code.
Over on Beyond3D's forums, there is a thread titled, "AMD: Navi Speculation, Rumors, and Discussion." Just as it sounds, the thread is is focused on Navi and what AMD is up to in the graphics arena. In one of the more recent posts, forum member "Nemo" points to a Linux driver released in July that makes a reference to Navi.
"AMD has a Linux driver for gfx10 architecture. That's 100 percent Navi GPU," Nemo states.
Looking through the Linux driver's code, there are multiple references to gfx 10, including an entry that reads, "new_chip.gfx10.mmSUPER_SECRET.enable [0:0]." The driver and reference to gfx 10 is several months old and could be nothing more than AMD having a little fun with Internet sleuths, or it could be a legitimate reference to Navi.
Whichever the case, past roadmaps point to AMD launching Navi in 2018, probably towards the end of the year, and carrying AMD's GPU efforts through 2019. As with its upcoming Zen 2 architecture, AMD is planning a die shrink to 7 nanometers for Navi, both of which the company has already started to tape out, meaning AMD has finalized its semiconductor design and is getting ready to send things off to manufacturing.
"Our goal is to be very competitive in terms of our long-term roadmap. If you look at the foundry’s 7nm roadmap compared to some of the other technologies out there it’s actually really competitive. I think the gap between the foundry roadmap and the Intel roadmap has gotten a lot closer. Our goal is to be aggressive with 7nm technology. We will be doing tape outs later this year and as we get closer to production will give more insights there. But the idea is to be more competitive throughout the portfolio," AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su stated at the 5th annual J.P. Morgan Global Technology, Media, and Telecom Conference.
While there is not a lot in the way of details surrounding Navi, there have been references to "scalability" and "next generation memory." The implication there is that the GPU design could consist of a bunch of Navi GPU dies all connected through AMD's Infinity Fabric technology, with some new type of memory involved—perhaps HBM3 or GDDR6.