Nvidia vs AMD: who is trolling who?
We are three weeks away from the official announcement of the AMD RDNA2 GPUs, which are supposed to be team red’s first real competitive GPU series in years, yet we have not seen too many trustworthy leaks that point to AMD’s intended performance targets. Although we know most of the GPU specs for the Navi 21, Navi 22 and Navi 23 models by now, the information is all over the place when it comes to direct comparisons with Nvidia’s cards. Is the Navi 21 faster than the RTX 3080? Is it slower than the RTX 3070? Is it only just as fast as the RTX 2080 Ti? Nothing too conclusive as of yet, and, to add more fuel to the fire, the guys over at Videocardz recently tweeted the possibility of Nvidia jebaiting AMD as per some info they managed to gather from AIB partners this week.
According to these unnamed AIBs, AMD’s Big Navi (Navi 21) GPU was initially targeting the performance of Nvidia’s GA104 SKU, which is now known as the RTX 3070. Apparently GA104 was meant to be the RTX 3080, but Nvidia upgraded the RTX 3080 to the GA102 SKU at the last minute, and that’s why the performance difference between the RTX 3090 and RTX 3080 is so small, while the price is almost doubled. So now, AMD’s Navi 21 is apparently only trying to match the RTX 3070. Additionally, Nvidia postponed the RTX 3070 launch to coincide with AMD’s RDNA2 official announcement, and the price for the RTX 3070 is also lower than that of the Navi 21 GPU. We are not sure if Videocardz is trolling here, since later on, they also posted information about 4 different versions of the Navi 21 SKU, with one of them believed to be faster than the RTX 3070 from (same?) AIB sources.
Meanwhile, from team red’s side we hear that AMD is not impressed with the performance of the RTX 3080 as alluded by some Frank Azor tweets. Plus there are many other sources like youtuber Moore’s Law Is Dead or Twitter users claiming that AMD’s Navi 21 will at least match the RTX 3080. For instance, trusted leaker _rogame believes that AMD is the one trolling AIBs by misrepresenting Navi 21 as Navi 22, which only has 40 CUs instead of 80 CUs. Apparently, a highly clocked Navi 22 (2.5 GHz, according to Tom from MLID) should perform on par with an RTX 3070, while Navi 21 should be around 40% faster than the RTX 2080 Ti, which is very similar to what the RTX 3080 can deliver.
Both narratives seem plausible here, but we cannot really disregard the spec sheets going around, plus the fact that AMD’s GPUs will be produced on TSMC’s 7 nm nodes that is clearly better than the Samsung 8 nm node used by Nvidia’s cards. Beyond everything related to raw performance, though, the most important factor that us consumers need to take into account is pricing. AMD does not really need to win the performance race in this case. Delivering performance close to RTX 3080 levels is good enough, provided that price points are noticeably lower and, of course, supply is sufficient.