AMD RDNA2 High-End Graphics Card To Get Ray Tracing While Budget Cards Get Better Power Efficiency?

AMD is getting ready to release several new GPUs based on the Big Navi or RDNA 2 Architecture. These new GPUs are expected to be quite powerful and efficient when compared to the current generation. However, it appears Ray Tracing, the most eagerly awaited feature, will be supported only by the premium or top-end variants of the new 7nm RDNA 2 Navi 2X GPUs. While the flagship AMD Graphics Cards will get Ray Tracing, the budget-friendly and mid to low-end AMD GPUs will get better power efficiency.

After the die sizes of AMD’s upcoming premium, Big Navi based Flagship GPU and its closely related variants leaked yesterday, it became clear that AMD is trying hard to compete against NVIDIA’s upcoming GPUs that will be cased on the Ampere Architecture. While previous reports have indicated that several NVIDIA’s GPUs would support Ray Tracing, the same doesn’t appear to be true for AMD’s upcoming Navi 2X based GPUs.

Ray Tracing Feature Exclusive To High-End And Enthusiast Radeon RX Navi 2X Graphics Cards?

From the recent reports, it became clear that AMD will be preparing at least three different RDNA 2 GPUs for its Navi 2X graphics card lineup. These will allegedly include the AMD Navi 21, AMD Navi 22, and the AMD Navi 23. The AMD Navi 21 will reportedly feature one of the largest ever commercially viable and produced GPU die size of 505 sq.mm. The AMD Navi 22 will take up 340 sq.mm and the AMD Navi 23 will have a die size of 240 sq.mm. The alleged AMD GPU die sizes are supposed to be accurate within +/- 5 sq.mm of the final dies.

While the reports about the large die sizes appear to be accurate, it is rather concerning to hear that AMD might not extend the eagerly awaited Ray Tracing feature to all its upcoming Big Navi based GPUs. Incidentally, AMD’s RDNA 2 GPUs will indeed be used in high-end and enthusiast-grade graphics cards arriving later this year. There’s no doubt about the same as AMD itself has confirmed the news.

AMD does have several budget-friendly options in the market for the price-conscious PC builders. These AMD Graphics Cards compromise processing power but sell for a lot less than the competition. Likely following the tradition of eliminating features to keep prices attractive, AMD is rumored to sacrifice Ray Tracing, and limit the feature to top-end Radeon RX graphics cards that sport a higher price tag.

AMD’s Strategy To Compete Against NVIDIA GeForce GTX 16 Turing Series Graphics Cards Is To Selectively Including Ray Tracing?

It is important to note that these are uncorroborated rumors. It is not confirmed yet that AMD will eliminate the Ray Tracing feature in all of its entry-level RDNA 2 GPU Based Radeon RX Navi 2X Graphics Card. In fact, AMD might split its RDNA 2 based Navi 2X lineups into two distinct categories. While one will support Ray Tracing, the other will not. This strategy would also allow AMD to price its upcoming Navi 2X GPUs in a more aggressive manner, and take on NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 16 Turing Series Graphics Cards.

There’s no doubt that Ray Tracing is an expensive feature. It requires dedicated cores on the GPU to implement reliably. Any software-based solution would significantly impact performance and bring down frame rates to unplayable levels. It is quite possible that AMD’s entry-level or budget-friendly Big Navi based GPUs will continue to follow the same design philosophy as their previous generation. AMD’s GPUs are known for their power efficiency, and value proposition. The upcoming AMD GPUs would offer the same with the new Navi 2X or RDNA 2 Architecture.

Incidentally, the AMD RDNA 2 based Radeon RX Navi 2X graphics card family is expected to disrupt the 4K gaming segment. The company has claimed the RDNA 2 GPUs will deliver a similar performance jump over the first-gen RDNA GPUs like ZEN 2 Architecture delivered over ZEN 1 for its Ryzen CPUs.

Simply put, AMD is carefully playing out the field to ensure operational efficiency and ample features without forcing gamers to shell out a lot for new graphics cards. It is no secret that NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 16 series Turing graphics cards do not have credible competition from AMD. Hence, AMD could be attempting to optimize the feature list to remain competitive in terms of price, power, and features.

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Alap Naik Desai


A B.Tech Plastics (UDCT) and a Windows enthusiast. Optimizing the OS, exploring software, searching and deploying solutions to strange and weird issues is Alap's main interest.
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