If you're someone who reads this site regularly, I don't have to tell you that Nvidia is pretty much dominating the graphics card market right now. AMD's still holding out with refreshes of its Polaris and Vega designs, but they're looking awfully long in the tooth compared to Nvidia's Turing. AMD needs new Radeons, and fast. Fortunately, it looks like Navi is on its way pretty darn quick. A Sapphire representative speaking to the Chinese press blabbed a whole bunch of info about two new cards coming from the company. The details were, uh, detailed in a now-removed blog post over at Chinese-language site Zhihu; thanks to Videocardz and TechPowerUp for the info.
Loose lips sink ships, after all—wait, what else did you think we meant?
According to Sapphire, AMD will be releasing two tiers of Radeons based on Navi, as usual. Just as Polaris gave us the RX 470 and RX 480, Navi will come along as one variant targeted at the GeForce RTX 2060, and another model aiming for the GeForce RTX 2070. Sapphire's representative apparently claimed that one of the cards—most likely the the faster of the two cards—will be "stronger than 2070," presumably referring to the GeForce RTX 2070.
That's fairly promising news, but the representative also revealed that Navi will not in fact have dedicated ray-tracing hardware. Instead, Sapphire promised said hardware for "next year's new architecture." That bit of information is particularly interesting given that Sony has already promised ray-tracing acceleration for the PlayStation 5. The PS5 is known to be using AMD hardware, and it isn't intended to launch until at least next year, so it looks like Navi could be yet another revised-GCN stopgap as some have postulated right here in our comments. Further cementing that idea is that Sapphire's representative said that Navi won't be "scaled up" to a larger design—this one model of chip is it.
Still, it's not as if GCN is incapable, particularly on 7nm. The Radeon VII holds it own—outside of ray-tracing-based workloads, at least—and it's certainly possible that what amounts to a hot-clocked Polaris chip hooked up to GDDR6 memory could be a fairly compelling product. It all comes down to price; as a wiser man than I once said, "There are no bad products, only bad prices." Pricing on the Navi cards was revealed at the press event, though, and it doesn't set our hearts alight: $399 for the slightly slower model, and $499 for the supposedly-RTX-2070-beating card.
Those prices are awfully close to Nvidia's suggested prices for its GeForce RTX cards. Right now, you can find RTX 2070 cards at Newegg for just $480. Navi will have to do quite well indeed in current titles to make up for the lack of DXR acceleration. Fortunately, we may not have long to wait to find out. According to Sapphire's representative, the long-swirling rumors that AMD will launch Navi at Computex were half-correct. If Sapphire speaks the truth, it seems Dr. Su will be announcing the cards at that show, with an actual launch coming later, in July.