AMD's upcoming 7nm Navi GPUs may not be more powerful than Nvidia's GTX 1080
The past few years have been excellent for AMD. Starting with the RX 400 line of GPUs, AMD’s Radeon group (who designs and manufactures AMD-branded graphics cards) took a much more aggressive approach to their marketing strategy and the design of their cards. The result has been a resurgence for Team Red, and while they still play second fiddle to the behemoth that is Nvidia, AMD has significantly increased their market share. However, that may come to a screeching halt next year if rumors are to be believed about the Navi architecture.
Fudzilla is reporting that AMD’s upcoming Navi GPUs, which will be based on a 7 nm process, may only compete with Nvidia’s current gen cards, namely the GeForce GTX 1080. While the GTX 1080 is one of the most powerful cards on the market, it’s set to be replaced soon, possibly with a card based on the Volta architecture. Volta has shown to be a significant improvement over the GTX 1000 series (Pascal). As such, the GTX 1080 could easily be overshadowed by high-end (or even mid-range) cards released in the near future.
That’s not a great picture for Navi. If the best of the Navi cards can only compete with a GPU that’s soon to be heavily outdated, AMD may lose a bit of their competitive advantage, especially among hardcore PC gamers.
However, Navi may have an advantage: price. The rumor mill pegs the price of Navi GPUs somewhere around USD $250, which is less than half of the GTX 1080’s $600 MSRP. The Navi architecture may also have some attractive features that go beyond raw power, such as better real-time ray tracing and other niceties not currently used by modern cards.
As always, these are all speculation at this point and should be taken with a very heavy grain of salt. Navi’s manufacturing process is a big shift from Vega, dropping the FinFET architecture from 14 nm to 7 nm. AMD has also planned to use Navi as a “refiner” of sorts for HBM2 memory used by Vega GPUs. Navi cards are currently slated for release next year, so we’ll have a bit to wait to see what tricks AMD has up its sleeve.