AMD‘s Navi GPUs are almost here, but they won’t be the only big AMD launch happening sometime between July and September. As confirmed by AMD top lady Dr Lisa Su at their recent Annual Shareholder Meeting, Navi’s release date will also coincide with the launch of their new Ryzen 3000-series of CPUs.
Both launches are set to take place during what business types like to call Q3 – that is, July to September – although it’s still not quite clear exactly when either the CPUs or next-gen graphics cards will actually arrive on shop shelves. Instead, we’ll likely have to wait until AMD’s Next Horizon Gaming event on Monday June 10 for more information. Here’s everything we know so far.
AMD Navi: what is it?
Navi is the current code name for AMD’s next generation of graphics cards. Set to replace AMD’s current Radeon RX Vega cards (but not the Radeon 7, which will continue to co-exist with the new Navi cards, according to AMD’s most recent roadmap slide below), Navi will use a 7nm manufacturing process, as well as feature a brand-new GPU architecture, which will hopefully make them more efficient (and therefore powerful) than AMD’s current-gen graphics cards.
Navi will also come with what’s currently being called ‘Next Gen Memory’, but whether that’s GDDR6 memory, the next iteration of HBM2 (High Bandwidth Memory 2) that’s currently in AMD’s Vega cards or something else entirely, nobody knows.
What we do know, however, is that Navi will support ray tracing, the fancy new lighting tech currently the hot topic of the day over on the new crop of Nvidia RTX cards. Teased back at GDC with a Radeon RX Vega 56-powered ray tracing demo and confirmed last month via Wired’s PlayStation 5 exclusive (which will use a custom variant of one of AMD’s Navi GPUs), the fact that AMD’s Navi cards will definitely support ray tracing tells us a number of things – and to help you separate probably likely facts from clearly made-up fiction, I’ve put everything we know about them so far into one handy guide.
AMD Navi release date
At one point, Navi was supposed to arrive by the end of 2018. But then the 14nm version of Vega got pushed back (the Vega 56 and 64), which in turn bumped back the 7nm version of Vega. The latter finally came out earlier this year in the form of the Radeon 7, but it also means this continual shuffling back of release dates has caused further delays to the launch of AMD’s 7nm Navi GPUs.
Finally, however, we now know that the first AMD Navi card will arrive sometime between July-September 2019, as AMD top lady Dr Lisa Su has now confirmed to investors and shareholders on several occasions now that the first 7nm Navi GPUs will be arriving sometime in Q3.
Precisely when it will launch in that window, nobody knows yet. What we do know, however, is that we’ll likely get our first glimpse of them, as well as that all important release date at E3 2019, as AMD have announced they’ll be hosting a livestreamed “Next Horizon Gaming” event on Monday June 10 at 3pm PT (or 11pm in the UK).
There, AMD will be unveiling their “next generation of AMD gaming products that will shape the future of PC, console and cloud gaming for years to come”. They’ll also be showcasing “never-before-seen content” from some of this year’s most anticipated new games, too, which will almost certainly involve a bit of ray tracing, I’d imagine, as well as other AMD-exclusive bits of tech to make things look extra shiny.
While we’ll have to wait until June 10 for proper confirmation of AMD’s Navi release date, the other big rumour currently doing the rounds is that they’ll launch on July 7 (or 7/7, in case you needed an even deeper tie to their 7nm manufacturing process). This probably makes quite a bit of sense, as it’s a) not that long after E3 ends, and b) AMD did a similar thing with their Radeon 7 launch earlier in the year, using CES at the beginning of January to unveil it before launching it a month later at the start of February.
Only time will tell, of course, but hopefully we won’t have to wait too long before we find out.
AMD Navi specs: is it going to be worth the wait?
Of course, for those after the best graphics card possible, it’s all been a bit frustrating. Indeed, as powerful as the Radeon 7 is, it’s still not quite the equal of Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2080 – especially once you take into account the RTX 2080’s fancy, performance-boosting DLSS tech as well.
However, the fact that AMD’s Navi graphics cards will also definitely support ray tracing tells us a number of things. For example, we’ve already seen how much of a toll ray tracing takes on the performance of Nvidia’s RTX graphics cards when their proprietary DLSS tech isn’t enabled, and AMD have told me themselves that a DLSS-esque technology for Navi isn’t really on the cards for them. That means they’re going to have to be pretty damn powerful to do it properly without taking a massive hit on the old frame rate.
“Our priority is going to be looking at SMAA and TAA [anti-aliasing techniques] and not proprietary technologies,” an AMD spokesperson told me during a briefing for the Radeon 7. “For us, it’s about enabling technology across all three verticals [PC, console and cloud gaming] and ensuring the end user experience is going to be great across all three. DLSS is a proprietary technology supported in only a small number of PC games. SMAA and TAA offer a superior combination of image quality and performance that’s free of the harsh sharpening of DLSS.”
Fighting words, those, but it suggests that AMD’s more concerned about delivering some serious raw horsepower (which would certainly tally with the way they presented the Radeon 7) instead of relying on AI to pick up the slack.
AMD Navi price: how much are they going to cost?
The key piece of the puzzle we’re missing right now is price. Currently, the internet is all over the shop on this one, with some rumour mills going for top-end kind of prices like $300+, while others are pegging them to be much cheaper around the $160 mark. Personally, I don’t think there’s much to be gained at all by trying to guess the prices of products that don’t officially exist yet. Instead, the best thing we’ve got to go on is Nvidia’s current pricing structure for their new Turing cards. Assuming AMD’s Navi GPUs are going to consist of an entire family of cards, I’d imagine we’ll see pretty similar prices to their current Nvidia equivalent.
Much like Navi’s release date, though, I expect we’ll hear some proper information around E3 time. Until then, I’d suggest taking all price rumours with a pinch of salt.