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AMD "Sienna Cichlid" Could be "Big Navi"

Linux kernel patches reference an AMD "Sienna Cichlid" GPU, which Phoronix believes could be the fabled "Big Navi" GPU. We know this is a GPU and not a headless CDNA scalar processor as the patches include code for VCN 3.0 video encoding capabilities ( RDNA2's media engine), and DCN3 (RDNA2's display engine), which constitute bulk that AMD could get rid of on CDNA chips. The unusual internal codename could reference AMD's next generation RDNA2 architecture based flagship GPU, armed with 80 compute units (5,120 stream processors), Radeon Intersection Engines (accelerate real-time ray-tracing). The codename comes across as unusual, but AMD does tend to use wacky internal codenames to detect sources of leaks.

Distant Blips on the AMD Roadmap Surface: Rembrandt and Raphael

Several future AMD processor codenames across various computing segments surfaced courtesy of an Expreview leak that's largely aligned with information from Komachi Ensaka. It does not account for "Matisse Refresh" that's allegedly coming out in June-July as three gaming-focused Ryzen socket AM4 desktop processors; but roadmap from 2H-2020 going up to 2022 sees many codenames surface. To begin with, the second half of 2020 promises to be as action packed as last year's 7/7 mega launch. Over in the graphics business, the company is expected to debut its DirectX 12 Ultimate-compliant RDNA2 client graphics, and its first CDNA architecture-based compute accelerators. Much of the processor launch cycle is based around the new "Zen 3" microarchitecture.

The server platform debuting in the second half of 2020 is codenamed "Genesis SP3." This will be the final processor architecture for the SP3-class enterprise sockets, as it has DDR4 and PCI-Express gen 4.0 I/O. The EPYC server processor is codenamed "Milan," and combines "Zen 3" chiplets along with an sIOD. EPYC Embedded (FP6 package) processors are codenamed "Grey Hawk."

AMD RDNA2 "Navi 21" GPU to Double CU Count Over "Navi 10"

AMD's RDNA2 graphics architecture, which sees real-time ray-tracing among other DirectX 12 Ultimate features, could see the company double the amount of stream processors generation-over-generation, according to a specs leak by _rogame. The increase in stream processors would fall in line with AMD's effort to increase performance/Watt by 50%. It may appear like the resulting SKUs finally measure up to the likes of the RTX 2080 Ti, but AMD has GeForce "Ampere" in its competitive calculus, and should the recent specs reveal hold up, the new "Navi 21" could end up being a performance-segment competitor to GeForce graphics cards based on the "GA104" ("TU104" successor), rather than a flagship-killer.

The RDNA2-based "Navi 21" GPU allegedly features 80 RDNA2 compute units amounting to 5,120 stream processors. AMD might tap into a refined 7 nm-class silicon fabrication node by TSMC to build these chips, either N7P or N7+. The die-size could measure up to 505 mm², and AMD could aim for a 50% performance/Watt gain over the "Navi 10." AMD could carve out as many as 10 SKUs out of the "Navi 21," but only three are relevant to the gamers. The SKU with the PCI device ID "0x731F: D1" succeeds the RX 5700 XT. The one bearing "0x731F: D3" succeeds the RX 5700, with a variant name "Navi 21 XL." The "Navi 21 XE" variant has a PCI ID of "0x731F: DF," and succeeds the RX 5600 XT.

AMD RDNA2 Based Radeon RX Graphics Cards Launching This September

AMD's next-generation RDNA2 architecture based Radeon RX series client-segment graphics cards will launch in September 2020, according to a DigiTimes report citing industry sources. This would make September a mighty busy month for hardware launches, as the company is also expected to debut its 4th generation Ryzen "Vermeer" (and possibly "Renoir) desktop processors in the AM4 package. NVIDIA is expected to debut its GeForce "Ampere" client-segment graphics cards around the same time. Although not in the same computing segment, Intel could also debut its 11th generation Core "Tiger Lake" mobile processors.

RDNA2 is an important launch for AMD as it's the company's first graphics architecture that meets the DirectX 12 Ultimate logo requirements, which include real-time ray-tracing capability leveraging DXR, variable rate shading, mesh shaders, and sampler feedback. AMD and NVIDIA will be debuting their graphics cards close to the release of CD Projekt's "Cyberpunk 2077," which is emerging as the year's most hotly anticipated game.

Graphics Cards Shipments to Pick Up in 2H-2020: Cooling Solution Maker Power Logic

Power Logic, a graphics card cooling solution OEM, in an interview with Taiwan tech industry observer DigiTimes, commented that it expects graphics card shipments to rise in the second half of 2020, on the backs of new product announcements from both NVIDIA and AMD, as well as HPC accelerators from the likes of Intel and NVIDIA. NVIDIA is expected to launch its "Ampere" based GeForce RTX 30-series graphics cards, while AMD is preparing to launch its Radeon RX 6000-series "Navi 2#" graphics cards based on the RDNA2 graphics architecture. Power Logic has apparently commenced prototyping certain cooling solutions, and is expected to begin mass-production at its Jiangxi-based plant towards the end of Q2-2020; so it could begin shipping coolers to graphics card manufacturers in the following quarters.

AMD Confirms Zen 3 and RDNA2 by Late-2020

AMD in its post Q1-2020 earnings release disclosures stated that the company is "on track" to launching its next-generation "Zen 3" CPU microarchitecture and RDNA2 graphics architecture in late-2020. The company did not reveal in what shape or form the two will debut. AMD is readying "Zen 3" based EPYC "Milan" enterprise processors, "Vermeer" Ryzen desktop processors, and "Cezanne" Ryzen mobile APUs based on "Zen 3," although there's no word on which product line the microarchitecture will debut with. "Zen 3" compute dies (CCDs) are expected to do away with the quad-core compute complex (CCX) arrangement of cores, and are expected to be built on a refined 7 nm-class silicon fabrication process, either TSMC N7P or N7+.

The only confirmed RDNA2 based products we have as of now are the semi-custom SoCs that drive the Sony PlayStation 5 and Microsoft Xbox Series X next-generation consoles, which are expected to debut by late-2020. The AMD tweet, however, specifies "GPUs" (possibly referring to discrete GPUs). Also, with AMD forking its graphics IP to RDNA (for graphics processors) and CDNA (for headless compute accelerators), we're fairly sure AMD is referring to a Radeon RX or Radeon Pro launch in the tweet. Microsoft's announcement of the DirectX 12 Ultimate logo is expected to expedite launch of Radeon RX discrete GPUs based on RDNA2, as the current RDNA architecture doesn't meet the logo requirements.

AMD "Renoir" Successor is "Cézanne," Powered by "Zen 3" and RDNA2

AMD's 7 nm "Renoir" silicon breathed life into the notebook processor market, by bringing 8-core/16-thread CPU performance into segments Intel reserved for 4-core/8-thread; and beat Intel in the iGPU performance front. 7 nm brought performance-Watt uplifts that spell serious competition for Intel across all notebook form factors, be it 15 W or 45 W. According to _rogame, who has a knack of getting far-out hardware rumors right, AMD has its successor on the drawing-board, and it's codenamed "Cézanne," after the French post-impressionist painter Paul Cézanne.

"Cézanne" could prove vital for AMD's foothold in the premium mobile computing segments as Intel is preparing to launch its 10 nm+ "Tiger Lake" processor soon, with advanced "Willow Cove" CPU cores, and Xe based integrated graphics. AMD plans to tap into its very latest IP. Although its core-count is not known, "Cézanne" will feature CPU cores based on the latest "Zen 3" microarchitecture. The iGPU will receive its biggest performance uplift in 3 generations, with an iGPU based on the cutting-edge RDNA2 graphics architecture that meets DirectX 12 Ultimate logo requirements.

Microsoft DirectX 12 Ultimate: Why it Helps Gamers Pick Future Proof Graphics Cards

Microsoft Thursday released the DirectX 12 Ultimate logo. This is not a new API with any new features, but rather a differentiator for graphics cards and game consoles that support four key modern features of DirectX 12. This helps consumers recognize the newer and upcoming GPUs, and tell them apart from some older DirectX 12 capable GPUs that were released in the mid-2010s. For a GPU to be eligible for the DirectX 12 Ultimate logo, it must feature hardware acceleration for ray-tracing with the DXR API; must support Mesh Shaders, Variable Rate Shading (VRS), and Sampler Feedback (all of the four). The upcoming Xbox Series X console features this logo by default. Microsoft made it absolutely clear that the DirectX 12 Ultimate logo isn't meant as a compatibility barrier, and that these games will work on older hardware, too.

As it stands, the "Navi"-based Radeon RX 5000 series are "obsolete", just like some Turing cards from the GeForce GTX 16-series. At this time, the only shipping product which features the logo is NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 20-series and the TITAN RTX, as they support all the above features.

Sony Reveals PS5 Hardware: RDNA2 Raytracing, 16 GB GDDR6, 6 GB/s SSD, 2304 GPU Cores

Sony in a YouTube stream keynote by PlayStation 5 lead system architect Mark Cerny, detailed the upcoming entertainment system's hardware. There are three key areas where the company has invested heavily in driving forward the platform by "balancing revolutionary and evolutionary" technologies. A key design focus with PlayStation 5 is storage. Cerny elaborated on how past generations of the PlayStation guided game developers' art direction as the low bandwidths and latencies of optical discs and HDDs posed crippling latencies arising out of mechanical seeks, resulting in infinitesimally lower data transfer rates than what the media is capable of in best case scenario (seeking a block of data from its outermost sectors). SSD was the #1 most requested hardware feature by game developers during the development of PS5, and Sony responded with something special.

Each PlayStation 5 ships with a PCI-Express 4.0 x4 SSD with a flash controller that has been designed in-house by Sony. The controller features 12 flash channels, and is capable of at least 5.5 GB/s transfer speeds. When you factor in the exponential gains in access time, Sony expects the SSD to provide a 100x boost in effective storage sub-system performance, resulting in practically no load times.

Sony's Mark Cerny to Detail PS5 Architecture March 18th

Sony has announced via Twitter that their lead system architect Mark Cerny will "provide a deep dive into PS5's system architecture, and how it will shape the future of games" tomorrow. This is likely the start of Sony's marketing campaign for the release of the PS5 which is due out Holidays 2020.

The Japanese company has remained puzzlingly tight-lipped regarding their next-gen games console, which is a far cry from Microsoft's position, who have been releasing details and teasing their next-gen Xbox Series X system for a while now. It remains to be seen how Sony's system will differ from Microsoft's Xbox Series X, since most specs are rumored to be close on both consoles. The underlying Zen 2 architecture for the CPUs is confirmed in both consoles, and so should the fabrication process and RDNA2-based graphics with dedicated ray tracing hardware. It remains to be seen how the companies will aim to differentiate their offerings.

Complete Hardware Specs Sheet of Xbox Series X Revealed

Microsoft just put out of the complete hardware specs-sheet of its next-generation Xbox Series X entertainment system. The list of hardware can go toe to toe with any modern gaming desktop, and even at its production scale, we're not sure if Microsoft can break-even at around $500, possibly counting on game and DLC sales to recover some of the costs and turn a profit. To begin with the semi-custom SoC at the heart of the beast, Microsoft partnered with AMD to deploy its current-generation "Zen 2" x86-64 CPU cores. Microsoft confirmed that the SoC will be built on the 7 nm "enhanced" process (very likely TSMC N7P). Its die-size is 360.45 mm².

The chip packs 8 "Zen 2" cores, with SMT enabling 16 logical processors, a humongous step up from the 8-core "Jaguar enhanced" CPU driving the Xbox One X. CPU clock speeds are somewhat vague. It points to 3.80 GHz nominal and 3.66 GHz with SMT enabled. Perhaps the console can toggle SMT somehow (possibly depending on whether a game requests it). There's no word on the CPU's cache sizes.

AMD Sheds Light on the Missing "+" in "7nm" for Zen 3 and RDNA2 in its Latest Presentation

AMD at its Financial Analyst Day 2020 presentation made a major clarification about its silicon fabrication process. It was previously believed that the company's upcoming "Zen 3" CPU microarchitecture and RDNA2 graphics architectures were based on TSMC's N7+ (7 nm EUV) silicon fabrication process because AMD would mark the two as "7 nm+" in its marketing slides. Throughout its Financial Analyst Day presentation, however, AMD avoided using that marker, and resorted to an amorphous "7 nm" marker, prompting one of the financial analysts to seek a clarification. At the time, AMD responded that they were aligning their marketing with that of TSMC, and hence chose to use "7 nm" in its new slides.

It turns out that the next step to TSMC N7, the company's current-generation 7 nm DUV silicon fabrication node, isn't N7+ (7 nm EUV), but rather it has a nodelet along the way, which the foundry refers to as N7P. This is a generational refinement of N7, but does not use EUV lithography, which means it may not offer the 15-20 percent gains in transistor densities offered by N7+ over N7. AMD clarified that "7 nm+" in its past presentations did not intend to signify N7+, and that the "+" merely denoted an improvement over N7. At the same time, it won't specify whether "Zen 3" and RDNA2 are based on N7P or N7+, so the company doesn't rule out N7+, either. We'll probably learn more as we near the late-2020 launch of "Zen 3" as EPYC "Milan."
AMD CPU Roadmap Zen 3 Zen 4 AMD CPU Roadmap Zen 2 Zen 3

AMD RDNA2 Graphics Architecture Detailed, Offers +50% Perf-per-Watt over RDNA

With its 7 nm RDNA architecture that debuted in July 2019, AMD achieved a nearly 50% gain in performance/Watt over the previous "Vega" architecture. At its 2020 Financial Analyst Day event, AMD made a big disclosure: that its upcoming RDNA2 architecture will offer a similar 50% performance/Watt jump over RDNA. The new RDNA2 graphics architecture is expected to leverage 7 nm+ (7 nm EUV), which offers up to 18% transistor-density increase over 7 nm DUV, among other process-level improvements. AMD could tap into this to increase price-performance by serving up more compute units at existing price-points, running at higher clock speeds.

AMD has two key design goals with RDNA2 that helps it close the feature-set gap with NVIDIA: real-time ray-tracing, and variable-rate shading, both of which have been standardized by Microsoft under DirectX 12 DXR and VRS APIs. AMD announced that RDNA2 will feature dedicated ray-tracing hardware on die. On the software side, the hardware will leverage industry-standard DXR 1.1 API. The company is supplying RDNA2 to next-generation game console manufacturers such as Sony and Microsoft, so it's highly likely that AMD's approach to standardized ray-tracing will have more takers than NVIDIA's RTX ecosystem that tops up DXR feature-sets with its own RTX feature-set.
AMD GPU Architecture Roadmap RDNA2 RDNA3 AMD RDNA2 Efficiency Roadmap AMD RDNA2 Performance per Watt AMD RDNA2 Raytracing

AMD Financial Analyst Day 2020 Live Blog

AMD Financial Analyst Day presents an opportunity for AMD to talk straight with the finance industry about the company's current financial health, and a taste of what's to come. Guidance and product teasers made during this time are usually very accurate due to the nature of the audience. In this live blog, we will post information from the Financial Analyst Day 2020 as it unfolds.
20:59 UTC: The event has started as of 1 PM PST. CEO Dr Lisa Su takes stage.

New AMD Listings in Korean RRA Certification Point to Impending Graphics Cards Release - Big Navi?

The Korean RRA has listed AMD graphics cards for certification this month which may well point towards an actual announcement coming from AMD during the next month. The company has already confirmed they will be discussing RDNA2 graphics cards come their next Financial Analyst Day, set for March 5th. The new entries, D32310 and D30201, have been listed on February 03 and February 19, respectively. This is relevant for a March announcement - even if just a paper one - of the new RDNA2 GPUs because historically, it seems that AMD has registered impending releases with the Korean RRA roughly one month prior to actual product releases.

As you can see in the listing, AMD registered two graphics cards in June 2019 (D16302 and D18206 - and one month later, in July, the company released Navi-based RX 5700 XT and RX 5700. AMD also registered the RX 5600 XT model number, D32501, on December 3, 2019 with a release one month later on January 21, 2020. AMD similarly registered model number D18902 on November 27, 2019 - and AMD released the 5500 XT on December 12, less than a month later. There seems to be a pattern here. if you're wondering why the model number for these new February registrations is lower than that of the RX 5600 XT (D32501 against the newer, yet lower D32310 and D30201), it could have something to do with the fact that AMD decided to carve out the RX 5600 XT SKU later than they knew they'd be releasing Big Navi - as an attempt to curtail NVIDIA in the GTX 1660 Ti and GTX 1660 Super battlefield.

AMD to Debut 2nd Gen RDNA Architecture in 2020

AMD CEO Dr Lisa Su, in her Q4-2019 and FY-2019 earnings call, confirmed that the company debut its second-generation RDNA graphics architecture in 2020. "In 2019 we launched our new architecture in GPUs, it's the RDNA architecture, and that was the Navi-based products. You should expect those will be refreshed in 2020, and we will have our new next-generation RDNA architecture that will be part our 2020 lineup."

Second-gen RDNA, or RDNA2, is expected to leverage the new 7 nm+ (EUV) silicon fabrication process at TSMC, to dial up transistor-counts, clock-speeds, and performance. Among the two anticipated feature additions are VRS (variable rate shading) and possibly ray-tracing. The fabled "big Navi" silicon, a GPU larger than "Navi 10," is also on the cards, according to an earlier statement by Dr Su. More details about these upcoming graphics cards are expected to be put out in March, at the 2020 AMD Investor Day conference.

Expect High-end Navi: AMD CEO

At a Q&A session with the tech press in Las Vegas, AMD CEO Dr Lisa Su raised hopes of a high-end graphics card based on its "Navi" family of GPUs. Responding to a specific question by Gordon Ung from PC World on whether there will be a high-end competitor in the discrete graphics space, Dr Su stated that one should expect a "high-end Navi." Dr Su states: "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."

For months now, it's been speculated that AMD has been working on a larger GPU die than "Navi 10." In 2020, AMD is expected to release the "Navi 20" familly of GPUs built on 7 nm+ (EUV) node, based on the RDNA2 graphics architecture. The key design goals of RDNA2 are expected to be support for at least tier-1 variable-rate shading (VRS), and possibly hardware-accelerated ray-tracing. It's possible that "high-end Navi" belongs to this family of GPUs.

Xbox Head Posts "Project Scarlett" (Xbox Series X) SoC Picture, Has that 7nm Tinge

Phil Spencer, head of the Xbox division at Microsoft, posted a picture of the semi-custom SoC at the heart of the company's upcoming "Project Scarlett" Xbox Series X game console as his Twitter avatar. The picture reveals a chip that looks visibly similar to that of "Project Scorpio" (Xbox One X). The picture was also taken from an angle that reveals the pinkish/auburn tinge of 7 nm AMD chips made at TSMC. You'll find the same tinge on chips such as "Navi 10" when viewed from an angle. The die unabashedly bears the "Project Scarlett" and "8K" markings.

Next-generation game consoles are marketing 4K 60 Hz and 8K gaming capability. They likely use a combination of dynamic resolution-scale and variable rate shading to achieve this. The "Project Scarlett" SoC is a semi-custom chip co-designed by Microsoft and AMD, and uses CPU cores based on the company's "Zen 2" microarchitecture, combined with a powerful GPU based on RDNA2, which features hardware-accelerated ray-tracing and variable-rate shading. Hardware enthusiasts on Twitter are abuzz with estimating the die-size of the SoC, with calculations pinning it around the 350 mm² mark ±10 mm², or roughly similar to that of "Project Scorpio," but one must factor in the switch to 7 nm from 16 nm significantly increasing transistor-density.

Ray Tracing and Variable-Rate Shading Design Goals for AMD RDNA2

Hardware-accelerated ray tracing and variable-rate shading will be the design focal points for AMD's next-generation RDNA2 graphics architecture. Microsoft's reveal of its Xbox Series X console attributed both features to AMD's "next generation RDNA" architecture (which logically happens to be RDNA2). The Xbox Series X uses a semi-custom SoC that features CPU cores based on the "Zen 2" microarchitecture and a GPU based on RDNA2. It's highly likely that the SoC could be fabricated on TSMC's 7 nm EUV node, as the RDNA2 graphics architecture is optimized for that. This would mean an optical shrink of "Zen 2" to 7 nm EUV. Besides the SoC that powers Xbox Series X, AMD is expected to leverage 7 nm EUV for its RDNA2 discrete GPUs and CPU chiplets based on its "Zen 3" microarchitecture in 2020.

Variable-rate shading (VRS) is an API-level feature that lets GPUs conserve resources by shading certain areas of a scene at a lower rate than the other, without perceptible difference to the viewer. Microsoft developed two tiers of VRS for its DirectX 12 API, tier-1 is currently supported by NVIDIA "Turing" and Intel Gen11 architectures, while tier-2 is supported by "Turing." The current RDNA architecture doesn't support either tiers. Hardware-accelerated ray-tracing is the cornerstone of NVIDIA's "Turing" RTX 20-series graphics cards, and AMD is catching up to it. Microsoft already standardized it on the software-side with the DXR (DirectX Raytracing) API. A combination of VRS and dynamic render-resolution will be crucial for next-gen consoles to achieve playability at 4K, and to even boast of being 8K-capable.

AMD Updates Roadmaps to Lock RDNA2 and Zen 3 onto 7nm+, with 2020 Launch Window

AMD updated its technology roadmaps to reflect a 2020 launch window for its upcoming CPU and graphics architectures, "Zen 3" and RDNA2. The two will be based on 7 nm+ , which is AMD-speak for the 7 nanometer EUV silicon fabrication process at TSMC, that promises a significant 20 percent increase in transistor-densities, giving AMD high transistor budgets and more clock-speed headroom. The roadmap slides however hint that unlike the "Zen 2" and RDNA simultaneous launch on 7th July 2019, the next-generation launches may not be simultaneous.

The slide for CPU microarchitecture states that the design phase of "Zen 3" is complete, and that the microarchitecture team has already moved on to develop "Zen 4." This means AMD is now developing products that implement "Zen 3." On the other hand, RDNA2 is still in design phase. The crude x-axis on both slides that denotes year of expected shipping, too appears to suggest that "Zen 3" based products will precede RDNA2 based ones. "Zen 3" will be AMD's first response to Intel's "Comet Lake-S" or even "Ice Lake-S," if the latter comes to fruition before Computex 2020. In the run up to RDNA2, AMD will scale up RDNA a notch larger with the "Navi 12" silicon to compete with graphics cards based on NVIDIA's "TU104" silicon. "Zen 2" will receive product stack additions in the form of a new 16-core Ryzen 9-series chip later this month, and the 3rd generation Ryzen Threadripper family.
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