AMD this week launched the first consumer graphics card for gaming to feature a GPU built on a 7-nanometer manufacturing process, and in doing so it may have achieved performance parity with NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 2080. That parity will likely go out the window when enabling real-time ray tracing, a feature the Radeon VII is not equipped to handle. Be that as it may, AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su says a card that supports ray tracing is "deep in development."
Real-time ray tracing is the standout feature of NVIDIA's GeForce RTX series, which is enabled through the inclusion of dedicated RT cores. There's still a performance penalty when enabling real-time ray tracing via Microsoft's DirectX Raytracing (DXR) API, but it doesn't slow things to a crawl. Just as importantly, it's an advantage that NVIDIA has over AMD at the moment.
During a Q&A session with reporters at CES, Dr. Su talk about the advent of ray tracing in games and where things stand with AMD's future GPUs.
"I think ray tracing is an important technology, and it’s something we’re working on as well, both from a hardware and software standpoint," Dr. Su said. "The most important thing, and that’s why we talk so much about the development community, is technology for technology’s sake is okay, but technology done together with partners who are fully engaged is really important."
She followed this up by adding, "I don't think we should say that we are 'waiting'," when she was asked by PCWorld. "We are deep in development, and that development is concurrent between hardware and software. The consumer doesn't see a lot of benefit today because the other parts of the ecosystem are not ready."
Dr. Su is right in terms of supported games—there just is not a rash of titles that support ray tracing right now. However, the API is out there, and eventually there will be more games to support it than there are right now. So in that regard, the ecosystem is in fact ready, and waiting.
On the topic of CPUs, Dr. Su strongly hinted that we will see third-generation Ryzen processors with more than 8 cores and 16 threads.
"If you look at the evolution of Ryzen, we've always had an advantage in core count," Dr. Su said.
To drive the point home, she acknowledged what some people have already noticed, which is that there is "some extra room" on the Ryzen package that was shown off at CES. "I think you might expect we will have more than eight cores."