After a strong showing from their Ryzen 3000 CPU launch in 2019, AMD is setting its sights on shaking up the discrete graphics card market in 2020. While there hasn’t been a Radeon-branded GPU that could claim the overall gaming performance crown for the better part of a decade, there is hope that could change later this year. AMD CEO Dr. Lisu Su revealed during CES 2020 that PC gamers should expect to see new graphics cards powered by the “Big Navi” chip sometimes this year.
During a roundtable Q&A session at CES 2020, Su offered some candid comments on the future of Radeon graphics cards and the type of performance to be expected from a high-end graphics solution. When asked by PC World’s Gordon Ung if AMD will have a high-end competitor in the discrete graphics market in 2020, Su replied, “I know those on Reddit want a high-end Navi! You should expect that we will have a high-end Navi and that it is important to have it. The discrete graphics market, especially at the high end, is very important to us. So you should expect that we will have a high-end Navi, although I don’t usually comment on unannounced products.”
The company originally released its first GPUs based on the Navi architecture last year in the form of the Radeon RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT. These cards featured performance that slotted them directly against NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 2060 and RTX 2070 products but was nowhere near NVIDIA’s halo RTX 2080 Ti offering. The Navi-based GPUs took advantage of the more advanced 7nm fabrication process, allowing more transistors to be crammed into a given space on a silicon chip, especially when compared to older 14nm and 16nm offerings. The reduction in size allows for energy savings and potentially higher performance.
AMD implied last year that the RX 5700 GPUs were not using the full-fledged Navi chip, but rather a cut-down version. When asked about when the bigger chips would arrive during an earnings call in August 2019, Su replied, “I would say they are coming. You should expect that our execution on those are on track and we have a rich 7nm portfolio beyond the products that we have already announced in the upcoming quarters.”
Industry rumors suggest that AMD will take covers off of Big Navi in the second quarter of 2020, possibly at E3 (where the RX 5700 cards were publicly shown in 2019) or at Computex in Taiwan. It is unknown if this new GPU would be as fast or faster than NVIDIA’s RTX 2080 Ti, but toppling the current performance king would be big for the AMD brand.
The elephant in the room is the looming release of NVIDIA’s first-ever 7nm graphics chips. The GeForce team has been able to set the market for years with their 28nm and 14nm GPUs, dating back to the release of the Maxwell architecture that powered the legendary GTX 900-series. If AMD needs the combination of both the Navi architecture and the 7nm fabrication process to catch up to NVIDIA’s RTX 2080 Ti nearly two years later, NVIDIA’s 7nm products could once again move the goalposts.
With juggernaut releases like Cyberpunk 2077 and Halo: Infinite expected to arrive in 2020, PC gamers will be looking for the latest graphics cards to get the best visual experience.It appears that both AMD and NVIDIA are preparing the big guns for a fight and we cannot wait to see how the battle plays out. For a closer look at some more of the biggest games set to arrive this year, check out our Most Anticipated Games of 2020 feature.