The wait is finally over, AMD have finally announced its Radeon RX 7000 series with two high-end offerings, the RX 7900 XT and XTX and honestly speaking I’m a little disappointed and a little infuriated but for different reasons than you’d probably expect.
AMD’s RDNA 3 architecture is a radical shift from previous iterations, because AMD are once again pushing innovation by giving its GPUs a “Zen” makeover.
What does that mean exactly? Intel and NVIDIA would have you believe that the staple of computing and therefore extracting more performance over subsequent generations is a monolithic design, while a massive fucking die has its advantages it’s clearly not the way to go about doing things efficiently as seen by the dominance of Ryzen in DIY PC markets, mobile markets and of course enterprise markets where AMD EPYC processors have essentially demolished Intel’s Xeon processors.
RDNA 3 retains the advantages as seen from previous generations, destroying NVIDIA in terms of performance per watt, but that’s not really all as the Radeon 7000 series isn’t comprised of monolithic dies anymore, more rather RDNA 3 brings the chiplet revelation to the graphics card.
AMD’s Navi 31 Core consists of 58 billion transistors, offering 61 TFLOPs of FP32 prowess, built with TSMC’s 5nm and 6nm processing nodes, the very foundation of RDNA 3 is its chiplet design.
The Navi 31 core consists of one GCD, Graphics Complex Die, which is allegedly 308mm2 in size, along with several MCD’s or Memory Complex Dies that surround the core itself.
Onto the GPUs themselves, AMD have only announced the Radeon RX 7900 XTX and 7900 XT GPUs, AMD are obviously playing a little bit more conservatively for their reference offerings as the 7900 XTX comes with a TBP of just 355W from a dual 8-pin configuration while NVIDIA’s RTX 4090 comes barring a 450W TDP by comparison with its flame-tastic 16-pin connector.
I expect aftermarket variants of the RX 7900 XTX to push the power envelope well beyond 400 watts with triple 8-pin power requirements because from my point of view this specific model is quite power limited.
The Radeon RX 7900 XTX comes with a base clockspeed of 1.9GHz, a game clock frequency of 2.3GHz and a maximum boost clockspeed of 2.5GHz.
The RX 7900 XTX comes with 96 total CU’s or rather 48 WGP’s is now the correct terminology, but much like Ampere AMD has now also “doubled” its FP32 cores so now the 7900 XTX offers 12,288 total cores.
Featuring DisplayPort 2.1 connective output, unlike ADA Lovelace, it also comes equipped with 24GB of 20Gbps GDDR6 memory across a 384-bit memory interface providing 960GB/s effective bandwidth, what made RDNA 2 special however was its “Infinity Cache”, of which the 7900 XTX comes with only 96 MB of additional cache which is a downgrade compared to the previous generation which featured 128 MB.
Just a minor niggle, considering the interconnect between the GCD and the MCD is up to 5.3 TB/s effectively.
Secondly we have the AMD Radeon RX 7900 XT which is sort of where I begin to lose my enthusiasm and get rather pissy.
The Radeon RX 7900 XT, despite sharing the same 900 designation, comes with a TBP value of 300 watts, 84 CU’s, 42 WGPs totaling 10,752 cores.
With 20 gigabytes of GDDR6 memory across a smaller 320-bit memory interface, giving the 7900 XT an effective bandwidth of 800 GB/s.
Both of these graphics cards will be available on December 13th for respective prices of $999 and $899 which heavily undercuts NVIDIA’s RTX 4000 series by a massive margin.
But when it comes to the RX 7900 XT I genuinely do not like it whatsoever, it does not deserve the name of a X900-series component with 12 fewer CU’s, 1536 fewer cores, four gigabytes less memory and a nerfed memory bus width.
The Radeon RX 7900 XT comes with a much lower base clockspeed at 1.5GHz, a game clock frequency of 2GHz and a maximum boost clockspeed of 2.4GHz.
The pricing of the RX 7900 XTX is more or less understandable, $999 was effectively the same price tag as the previous generations 6900 XT so it more or less make a lot of sense, considering how the competition effectively are charging $600 more than the Radeon.
I just feel as if the RX 7900 XT is more or less like NVIDIA’s desperate attempt with their RTX 4080 12GB variant although to a much lesser degree, the RX 6800 XT had an MSRP of $649 and obviously there’s no justification for AMD charging so little for what’s effectively a “7850 XT” or a “RX 7900” because otherwise the $899 price tag would not go over well had AMD called it anything else.
But I don’t generally think AMD are going to have much in the way of competition at these prices especially from NVIDIA this time around, so unfortunately it looks as if the $899 pricing and retarded naming scheme is here to stay.
Now obviously you want to know about the performance.
Generally speaking AMD’s marketing department has once again let us down with the performance unveiled being one off figures with no real direct competition with other products.
Sadly there’s no performance figures made available for the RX 7900 XT, only the XTX which is shown to be anywhere from 50-70% faster in performance compared to the previous generation RX 6950 XT despite being power restrained in the name of efficiency.
Such figures is similar to the leaps in performance NVIDIA have made with ADA Lovelace, across multiple titles such as Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, Watch Dogs Legion, Cyberpunk 2077 and a couple titles with ray tracing of which the RT performance has also been improved by a large degree with RDNA 3 although it’s still not viable to even bother with ray tracing garbage whether you happen to own RX 7000 or RTX 4000 series hardware.
With no general direct comparison until review embargos are lifted next month it’s generally hard to actually gauge performance of the Radeon RX 7900 XT(X), generally speaking for just $999 it’s bound to leapfrog NVIDIA’s RTX 4080 16GB graphics card not just in terms of outright value of which the GeForce is to be priced at $1200 but theoretical performance as well.
Despite being power restrained, the overall performance of the RX 7900 XTX should give the $1600 a run for its money, despite a massive $600 savings for the same overall 24GB of VRAM capacity, best case scenario for reference design models should match RTX 4090 performance in some games while majority of the time in titles that generally don’t favor Radeon such as God of Soy which showcases a 25% performance deficit compared to the RTX 4090 of which aftermarket variants all perform basically the same.
I generally expect aftermarket variants of the Radeon RX 7900 XT and 7900 XTX to feature three 8-pin power connectors pushing frequencies much higher and unfortunately power requirements will shoot up as a result, in such cases I can possibly see aftermarket models of the XTX performing around that of NVIDIA’s RTX 4090 give or take +/- 10%.
Long story short, wait for aftermarket variants if performance is all you generally seek.
While not exactly the king of performance, to save $600 and get effectively close enough in terms of performance is a stellar accomplishment, AMD doesn’t necessarily have to beat the RTX 4090 to be competitive, especially considering how the $1200 RTX 4080 16GB is a guaranteed casualty of this announcement.