Welcome again to the excessive finish, AMD.

For the primary time because the days of the Radeon R9 290X—seven lengthy years in the past—AMD’s Radeon group is ready to unleash enthusiast-level graphics playing cards that may do battle with Nvidia’s best and brightest. During the corporate’s second “Where Gaming Begins” occasion on Wednesday, AMD revealed a trio of Radeon GPUs based mostly on a brand new RDNA 2 structure, all armed with “revolutionary Infinity Cache” know-how, sky-high clock speeds, and attention-grabbing synergies with Ryzen. They take direct aim at Nvidia’s RTX 30-series choices, culminating in a $999 Radeon RX 6900 XT that seeks to grab the gaming crown from the monstrous $1500 GeForce RTX 3090 when it launches December 8—for $500 lower than Nvidia’s beastly GPU prices.

The $579 Radeon RX 6800, in the meantime, will go toe-to-toe with the $500 RTX 3070 releasing tomorrow, and the $649 Radeon RX 6800 XT intends to problem the $700 RTX 3080. Both launch November 18, about two weeks after AMD’s Ryzen 5000 CPUs hit the streets.


While Nvidia’s latest gaming GPU releases went gentle with uncooked reminiscence capability, choosing an improve to sooner GDDR6X VRAM as an alternative, AMD geared up each high-end Radeon RX 6000 card with a considerable 16GB of normal GDDR6, lots to deal with 4K gaming effectively into the longer term. And whereas Nvidia’s RTX 3080 and 3090 devour rather more energy than earlier GeForce incarnations, AMD claims it’s achieved its lofty objective of a 50 % performance-per-watt enhance in comparison with the unique RDNA structure, which makes the Radeon RX 6000-series XT graphics playing cards much less power-hungry than their Nvidia rivals.

Yes, you learn that proper: Radeon GPUs will want much less energy than competing GeForce playing cards. My, how the tables have turned.

We’ll begin by diving into the uncooked specs and efficiency claims for the Radeon RX 6800, 6800 XT, and 6900 XT, as a result of we all know that’s what you’re right here for, however stick round afterward after we dig into key adjustments within the RDNA 2 structure and new Radeon ecosystem options, like Smart Access Memory that ties into Ryzen 5000 CPUs and AMD’s new Infinity Cache. Those present essential extra context for a few of the slides you’re about to see.

Radeon RX 6800 vs. GeForce RTX 3070

radeon rx 6800 AMD

Let’s begin at the extra inexpensive finish.

The Radeon RX 6800 packs 60 compute items and a 1,815MHz sport clock—90MHz greater than the rival GeForce RTX 3070’s rated Boost pace. More importantly, AMD’s card triumphs in reminiscence capability, packing a full 16GB of GDDR6 RAM versus the 3070’s 8GB. Nvidia pitched the 3070 as the final word 1440p graphics card, however it will probably do effectively in 4K video games, too. That 8GB reminiscence buffer most likely received’t maintain up effectively for 4K gaming because the years go on although, as some video games already exceed it. The Radeon RX 6800 received’t endure the identical downside. Nvidia’s card enjoys a barely decrease complete board energy ranking.

radeon rx 6800 4k AMD
radeon rx 6800 1440 AMD

Now issues are getting attention-grabbing. Vendor benchmarks ought to at all times be taken with a grain of salt, and it is best to at all times look forward to unbiased evaluations of dear {hardware}, however AMD’s knowledge tends to be dependable—and it reveals the Radeon RX 6800 beating the GeForce RTX 3070 throughout the board right here, at each 4K and 1440p decision. Wow. Radeon chief Scott Herkelman informed me that AMD’s lab used equivalent methods for all exams, altering solely the graphics card, and that the corporate used the best-performing API for a given graphics card in all exams. So if Nvidia’s GPU carried out higher in a sport utilizing DirectX 11, and AMD’s exceled with DX12, these outcomes mirror apex efficiency.

It’s not fairly as cut-and-dry because it seems, nevertheless. See that tiny “+Smart Access Memory” subsequent to the Radeon RX 6800’s title at the underside? This graphs reveals AMD efficiency with that function lively, which may present a further efficiency enhance whenever you drop a Radeon 6000 GPU right into a system with a Ryzen 5000 CPU put in. We’ll get into it extra later, however these aren’t inventory outcomes for the RX 6800.

Radeon RX 6800 XT vs. GeForce RTX 3080

radeon rx 6800 xt AMD

Stepping up the stack, the Radeon RX 6800 XT will increase the compute unit rely to 72, sport clock speeds to a hair over 2GHz, and the full board energy to 300 watts. It additionally provides a roomy 16GB of reminiscence. By comparability, Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3080 has a Boost clock almost 300MHz slower (although it tends to run sooner in actuality) and simply 10GB of reminiscence, although it makes use of the sooner GDDR6X selection for extra bandwidth. The Radeon RX 6800 XT’s 300W energy ranking is 20W lower than the RTX 3080’s.

radeon rx 6800 xt 4k AMD
radeon rx 6800 xt 1440 AMD

In these outcomes, AMD isn’t placing its thumb on the size with Smart Access Memory. In its inventory state, the Radeon RX 6800 XT meets or flat-out beats the GeForce RTX 3080 in 7 of the ten benchmarks right here at 4K decision, the place Nvidia’s card performs its best. Drop the decision to 1440p, the place Nvidia’s Ampere can’t take full benefit of its ample shaders, and AMD opens its lead much more, triumphing in each sport besides Division 2 and Resident Evil 3. Hot rattling.

Radeon RX 6900 XT vs. GeForce RTX 3090

radeon rx 6900 xt AMD

Now we get to the battle of the (nearly) Titans. The Radeon RX 6900 XT packs equivalent specs to the Radeon RX 6800 XT besides one, boosting the important compute unit rely from 72 to 80. Yes, it nonetheless runs over 2GHz, and sure, it nonetheless sticks to 300W of complete board energy—50W lower than the power-sucking GeForce RTX 3090.

Nvidia’s advertising for the 3090 revolved round 8K gaming and the cardboard’s large, creator-friendly 24GB of GDDR6X reminiscence. The firm even calls the step-down RTX 3080 its gaming flagship—not the 3090. AMD is maintaining the give attention to regular players with the Radeon RX 6900 XT. This card comes with 16GB of normal GDDR6 reminiscence, identical to the opposite Radeon GPUs revealed at the moment. It’s not as spacious and not as quick because the RTX 3090’s reminiscence, however 16GB of GDDR6 ought to maintain up effectively for 4K gaming over the long run nonetheless. Opting for a much less excessive VRAM setup means AMD can hold the price of the Radeon RX 6900 XT a lot decrease in comparison with its rival.

radeon rx 6900 xt 4k AMD

So many individuals thought this was unimaginable, however right here we’re—at least in AMD’s equipped benchmarks. The Radeon RX 6900 XT beats or ties the GeForce RTX 3090 most of the time at 4K, and considerably so in Forza, with all video games blowing effectively previous the golden 60-frames-per-second mark even with their highest visible settings enabled.

Note that AMD is tipping the scales once more right here, and extra so than earlier than. Not solely is Smart Access Memory lively on the Radeon system, however so is Rage, AMD’s new computerized overclocking device in Radeon Software. A victory is a victory, however you’ll be able to’t assist however marvel how a lot further efficiency these options are including to the highest. A slide you’ll see later reveals the duo enhancing efficiency by wherever from 2 to 13 % relying on the sport, with a mean uplift of 6.4 % throughout eight video games.

It’s additionally value noting, nevertheless, simply how less expensive the Radeon RX 6900 XT is in comparison with the luxurious GeForce RTX 3090. $500 ain’t chump change.

That’s it so far as the Radeon RX 6000-series graphics playing cards themselves go. For a deeper look at the RDNA 2 structure and new options inside AMD’s high-end GPUs—together with Rage, Smart Access Memory, and Infinity Cache—hold studying.

RDNA 2 and Infinity Cache

per per watt AMD

AMD knew that to catch as much as Nvidia, its GPUs wanted to change into rather more environment friendly than they was once. RDNA 1 achieved a 50-percent energy enchancment over earlier Radeon GPUs, however a big a part of the effectivity good points got here from shifting to the superior 7nm manufacturing course of. The RDNA 2 structure stays on 7nm, so AMD’s engineers wanted to spice up its effectivity by one other 50 % in different methods.

compute units AMD

It began with the compute items—the beating coronary heart of the GPU. AMD’s graphics chief engineer, Laura Smith, stated the corporate went by the design with a fine-tooth comb to root out inefficiencies: rejiggering knowledge paths, rebalancing pipelines, and (in a web page from the Ryzen design handbook) enabling “pervasive fine-grain clock gating,” which is an attention-grabbing twist I’m wanting ahead to listening to extra about, as GPUs behave very in a different way than CPUs. The new compute items are 30 % extra environment friendly than earlier than, which Smith says is essential for scaling RDNA as much as these enthusiast-class GPUs.

frequency AMD

AMD’s engineers additionally managed to squeeze a lot greater clock speeds out of RDNA 2 on the efficiency aspect of issues. Where the Radeon RX 5700 XT sported a 1,755MHz sport clock, AMD says the Radeon RX 6800XT and 6900XT ought to maintain 2,015MHz speeds throughout gaming, and may even go to 2,250MHz in different duties. (Smith truly says the Radeon RX 6900 XT’s power-per-watt enhance versus RDNA 1 was even greater, at 65 %.)

infinity cache AMD

But essentially the most intriguing—and mysterious—energy good points come from the brand new 128MB “Infinity Cache” constructed into the Radeon RX 6000-series. Smith says the Infinity Cache is a high-density design that has its roots in “Zen 3” Ryzen’s cache selections, however rearchitected for Radeon’s gaming wants. Details of what Infinity Cache truly does stay murky, however Smith says it mainly permits Radeon RX 6000 graphics playing cards to ship twice the reminiscence bandwidth at decrease energy value. Including Infinity Cache lets AMD keep on with a smaller 256-bit bus for the Radeon RX 6000-series, which supplies substantial energy financial savings over shifting to the bigger bus sizes you usually see in high-end gaming playing cards. We can’t wait to listen to—and check—extra.

Ryzen synergy, Rage, and DirectX 12 Ultimate

Hardware can’t run with out software program, and a part of AMD’s presentation was devoted to showcasing some nifty new capabilities present in Radeon RX 6000 graphics playing cards. Most intriguing? AMD Smart Access Memory.

amd smart access memory AMD

Like AMD’s Smart Shift know-how in laptops (and the RDNA 2-based PlayStation 5), AMD Smart Access Memory is designed to offer you higher efficiency in case you’re all-in on AMD’s {hardware}. If you’ve got each a Ryzen 5000 CPU and a Radeon 6000 GPU in your system, AMD Smart Access Memory offers your CPU entry to your graphics card’s full reminiscence buffer, moderately than the same old 256MB chunks. That direct communication cuts down on buffering and potential latency. Even although sport makers haven’t had an opportunity to optimize for the carefully guarded tech but, Radeon chief Scott Herkelman informed PCWorld that merely flipping this function and Rage overclocking on concurrently in AMD’s labs resulted in efficiency will increase throughout a sequence of video games, with Forza Horizon 4 operating 13 % sooner.

amd smart access memory and rage AMD

Fascinating stuff. As with Infinity Cache, we’re wanting ahead to seeing deeper particulars, however a number of AMD-supplied benchmarks for the Radeon RX 6000 GPUs present outcomes from quite a few video games with Smart Access Memory lively.

AMD’s new playing cards can even help Microsoft’s upcoming DirectStorage API, which can let your GPU speak on to your NVMe SSD for vastly improved loading instances in video games. Getting the assorted components of your PC to speak immediately moderately than flowing by system RAM abruptly looks like the new new pattern for 2021. (Nvidia’s RTX 30-series additionally helps DirectStorage, utilizing “RTX IO” branding.)

rage AMD

AMD can be spiffing up the one-click overclocking capabilities present in its Radeon Software. Going ahead, you’ll discover a new “Rage” preset tuning possibility that applies an computerized overclock tuned to your particular card—a useful device certainly for individuals who simply need their video games to play as shortly as potential with no complications. Herkelman informed me there are some slight variations in comparison with the earlier computerized overclocking function supplied by Radeon software program, however he didn’t get into specifics.

Fun truth: The “Rage” title is a shoutout to a preferred line of graphics playing cards launched by ATI within the early days of 3D acceleration, earlier than AMD bought the corporate. ATI’s “Fury” moniker made a comeback in graphics card type just a few years again, and now Rage will likely be again on each Radeon-powered PC. I dig it.

radeon boost AMD

Speaking of Radeon Software options, AMD additionally briefly teased how its present “Radeon Boost” and “Radeon Anti-Lag” options mix to enhance latency in video games that demand fast responses, particularly when paired with a FreeSync monitor. GeForce playing cards simply gained the Nvidia Reflex suite of latency boosting options, so it’s clear that sport responsiveness is turning into a brand new battleground for graphics card makers.

dx12 rdna2 AMD

Finally, just like the GeForce RTX 30-series, AMD’s Radeon 6000 graphics playing cards will likely be totally DirectX 12 Ultimate-compliant. Microsoft calls DX12 “a force multiplier for the entire gaming ecosystem” by unifying an array of recent options—principally ones launched in Nvidia’s RTX 20-series, however largely ignored by builders—throughout all PC and next-gen Xbox {hardware}. “When Xbox Series X releases, there will already be many millions of DX12 Ultimate PC graphics cards in the world with the same feature set, catalyzing a rapid adoption of new features, and when Xbox Series X brings a wave of new console gamers, PC will likewise benefit from this vast surge of new DX12 Ultimate capable hardware,” Microsoft stated when asserting the API.

Being DirectX 12 Ultimate-compliant means the Radeon RX 6000 graphics playing cards will help variable charge shading, mesh shading, sampler suggestions, and sure, real-time ray tracing—although AMD didn’t go into particulars about its hotly anticipated ray tracing implementation.

dx12u fidelityfx AMD

AMD wasn’t solely mum, although. Nvidia has a transparent lead on ray tracing, and the corporate’s proprietary Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) performs an enormous function. The AI upscaling function leverages the devoted tensor cores in GeForce GPUs to hurry up body charges, counterbalancing ray tracing’s efficiency affect—however bear in mind, it’s an Nvidia-proprietary know-how. AMD teased an answer of its personal as a part of the corporate’s open FidelityFX instruments throughout at the moment’s presentation. Tucked away within the nook of the slide, there was a small field that merely stated “Super Resolution.”

Herkelman wouldn’t go into particulars, however he confirmed to PCWorld that this will likely be AMD’s open response to Nvidia’s DLSS, designed to work on any graphics {hardware}—even APUs—and throughout numerous platforms, as a result of AMD’s RDNA 2 GPUs additionally energy the next-gen PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles.

That broad adoption of AMD applied sciences might be an ace within the gap for Radeon’s ray tracing future. The new consoles will likely be getting off the bottom at roughly the identical time because the Radeon RX 6000 sequence, all bearing RDNA 2 GPUs. With the Radeon RX 6000 sequence, Xbox Series X, and even Nvidia’s RTX 30-series all driving DirectX 12 Ultimate ahead in the identical time-frame as effectively, AMD is betting that DX12U’s options will change into ubiquitous. Everyone is engaged on the identical web page now.

amd consoles AMD

RDNA 2 isn’t only for the Radeon RX 6000 graphics playing cards.

As the graphics chip contained in the consoles, AMD’s yet-to-be-revealed ray tracing implementation might change into the usual goal for sport builders regardless of Nvidia’s two-year lead and spectacular proprietary {hardware}. If AMD’s ray tracing turns into the usual, its open-source “Super Resolution” know-how within FidelityFX might change into the usual as effectively. DLSS 2.0 is black magic, nevertheless it’s locked to Nvidia GPUs on PCs, and requires customized code.

Of course, as with Infinity Cache and AMD Smart Access Memory, it will depend on the main points. AMD isn’t revealing something extra about Super Resolution at the moment.

Bottom line, although? After seven lengthy years, AMD’s RDNA 2-equipped Radeon RX 6000 graphics playing cards are lastly able to convey the combat to Nvidia at the very fringe of enthusiast-class efficiency. We’ll have to see if AMD’s lofty claims maintain as much as scrutiny by unbiased testers, however we will’t wait to get our palms on these graphics playing cards. Competition is a superb factor—and lengthy overdue at the excessive finish. Welcome again, AMD.

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Brad Chacos – www.pcworld.com

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