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Navi 10-based AMD Radeon RX 5700 still has elements of GCN, 'pure' RDNA coming only in 2020

AMD previewed its new RDNA architecture for Radeon GPUs at Computex 2019.
AMD previewed its new RDNA architecture for Radeon GPUs at Computex 2019.
The upcoming AMD Navi GPUs such as the Radeon RX 5700 will use a hybrid GCN-RDNA architecture according to information obtained from AMD by Swedish outlet, SweClockers. Apparently, AMD feels that GCN is a mature architecture that has been optimized well for modern games and therefore, will find place alongside RDNA in Navi 10 GPUs. AMD is expected to completely transition to RDNA with Navi 20 sometime in 2020.

AMD kicked off Computex 2019 proceedings by launching Ryzen 3000 CPUs and previewing the upcoming Navi series of GPUs. We've been expecting 7nm Navi to continue using the Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture as was evident in open source driver code, but AMD announced that Navi will be based on the new RDNA (Radeon DNA) graphics architecture throwing up a conundrum of sorts. However, it looks like upcoming Navi 10 GPUs such as the Radeon RX 5700 will be a hybrid between GCN and RDNA and that the full transition to RDNA will happen only by 2020.

While GCN has catered to both gamers and workstation users, RDNA is developed with an emphasis on gaming. RDNA-based GPUs feature a new compute unit design, multi-level cache hierarchy, and a streamlined graphics pipeline. RDNA GPUs will also be the first to support the new PCIe Gen4 standard for consumers. That doesn't mean AMD has abandoned GCN, though. The current generation (Navi 10) will still carry over elements of the GCN architecture. SweClockers quotes AMD sources who say that offering GPUs with 'pure' RDNA from scratch can have its implications.

GCN is a seven-year old architecture that has been refined through each GPU generation. Game developers have optimized their engines to make the best use of GCN and throwing all that optimization into the bin can prove fatal for Team Red if things happen to go south.

That being said, AMD does feel that the time has come to move on from GCN to RDNA on the lines of the transition from Bulldozer to Zen for CPUs. Unlike Zen, the company is taking it gradually this time implying that we won't be seeing the full benefits of RDNA until 2020 in Navi 20 — which is probably when Team Red will finally have a true competitor to NVIDIA's top-tier offerings.

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RDNA brings new features to Radeon GPUs targeted at gamers. (Source: AMD)
RDNA brings new features to Radeon GPUs targeted at gamers. (Source: AMD)

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SweClockers (Swedish)

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2019 05 > Navi 10-based AMD Radeon RX 5700 still has elements of GCN, 'pure' RDNA coming only in 2020
Vaidyanathan Subramaniam, 2019-06- 1 (Update: 2019-06- 1)
Vaidyanathan Subramaniam
Vaidyanathan Subramaniam - News Editor
I am a cell and molecular biologist and computers have been an integral part of my life ever since I laid my hands on my first PC which was based on an Intel Celeron 266 MHz processor, 16 MB RAM and a modest 2 GB hard disk. Since then, I’ve seen my passion for technology evolve with the times. From traditional floppy based storage and running DOS commands for every other task, to the connected cloud and shared social experiences we take for granted today, I consider myself fortunate to have witnessed a sea change in the technology landscape. I honestly feel that the best is yet to come, when things like AI and cloud computing mature further. When I am not out finding the next big cure for cancer, I read and write about a lot of technology related stuff or go about ripping and re-assembling PCs and laptops.