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AMD's CEO and CTO on Radeon VII, ray tracing and beyond AMD isn't too worried about NVIDIA's RTX GPUs.

Question asked by elstaci on Jan 10, 2019
Latest reply on Jan 10, 2019 by ajlueke

Just adding on to pokester other discussion of Radeon VII: AMD's CEO and CTO on Radeon VII, ray tracing and beyond


After lagging behind with Vega desktop GPUs for a few years, AMD announced a major upgrade today: the Radeon VII, the first 7nm GPU for gamers. It's a powerful card capable of serious 4K performance. Its new architecture means it won't use up too much power, leaving plenty of room for overclockers to take it even further. But there's no real-time ray tracing, a technology that NVIDIA has been pushing since last year, when it unveiled its RTX desktop GPUs. So where does this leave AMD?


"Our vision on gaming is very broad. We think about it across PCs, consoles, cloud and how we deliver content into all those pieces," said AMD CEO Lisa Su in a conversation with journalists at CES. "I think ray tracing is an important technology, it's something we're working on as well from both a hardware and software standpoint. I think the important thing though -- and that's why we talk so much about the development community -- is that technology for technology's sake is okay, but technology done together with partners and really getting the development community fully engaged is really important."


Su says we'll be seeing more gaming talk from AMD this year and beyond. That's not too surprising, as we're expecting both Microsoft and Sony to start talking about their next generation consoles soon. Those systems, which are expected to launch in 2020, will likely rely on AMD's custom graphics silicon, as we saw with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.


"We view it as a broad ecosystem, we don't focus on just one technology, we need all this stuff to really come together," Su said. That's an understandable strategy for AMD. Even though NVIDIA has been talking about real-time ray tracing for the past year and just announced notebook RTX chips, there are still only a handful of games supporting that technology. And it didn't help that the RTX 2070 and 2080 were much more expensive than the previous generation GPUs. (The recently announced RTX 2060 is its first "affordable" ray tracing card.) If you actually want consumers to see the value of ray tracing, it might make more sense to wait until there are games and plenty of developers using it first.


"Why we're so excited with Radeon VII is it brings a phenomenal performance boost to gamers without any software modification required by our gaming developer partners," said AMD CTO Mark Papermaster in an interview with Engadget. "What we try and do at AMD is being focused on delivering that value in an ecosystem that can be readily accepted.... Ray tracing is something that we believe the whole industry has to move to, there's no question. But it has to go through that whole development cycle."


During her CES keynote, Su also announced the 3rd generation Ryzen desktop processors, which are meant to compete with Intel's new 9th generation chips, even the top-end Core i9-9900K. It's also built on a 7nm architecture, which delivers the same benefits as the Radeon VII: a lower power draw while still delivering plenty of performance. Su also hinted that the upcoming Ryzen CPUs will pack in even more cores than what we saw her demo on stage. "There is some extra room on that package, and I think you might expect we'll have more than eight cores," she said. At this point, AMD's 2019 is already off to a more interesting start than 2018, where it didn't have a new high-end video card. We were intrigued by the company's Ryzen mobile chips, which packed in some decent Vega mobile graphics for casual gaming, but we didn't see too many systems that took advantage of it. Su says AMD will be working more closely with manufacturers when it comes to marketing and designing those systems, which hopefully means more consumers will be aware of upcoming Ryzen mobile notebooks.



Follow all the latest news from CES 2019 here!




    • ajlueke

      "After lagging behind with Vega desktop GPUs for a few years, AMD announced a major upgrade today: the Radeon VII, the first 7nm GPU for gamers."


      You could argue that, with this launch, AMD is still lagging behind by just as much as the Vega 64.  When Vega 64 launched it was more or less equivalent the a GTX 1080 while being well behind the 1080 Ti.  With the Vega VII, AMD is in exactly the same situation.  They seem to be close to the RTX 2080, but well behind the RTX 2080 Ti.  So they haven't really gained any ground here, other than the fact that NVidia shifted the pricing structure up.  So now they are on parity with a $700 card and trailing a $1200 one, vs $500 and $700.


      "Its new architecture means it won't use up too much power, leaving plenty of room for overclockers to take it even further."


      It looks like the TDP will be basically the same as Vega 64, so it will still use more power for the same price as NVidia.  Granted, not by as much, since NVidia's tensor cores raised power consumption, but all in all, it is a very similar dynamic.  At least AMD is maintaining pace, as opposed to falling further behind as they did between Fury and Vega.

      1 person found this helpful
        • pokester

          Nothing about this launch makes me warm and fuzzy. The limited manufacturing numbers mean not many will even have the chance. Given that so many issues plauge Vega to this day that Polaris does much better with and AMD doesn't acknowlege this still. I'm can only guess the new hardware will be the same, and yes a die shrink but likely the performance increase will use that power right up. We don't have all the numbers on any of this to make an educated choice. One of the biggest reasons to stay with AMD at this point is if you have a FreeSync monitor. If Nvidia gets it working as well as AMD, and my honest guess is, they will do it better as they don't take the wide approach they are concentrated on PC Gamers, I don't at least for myself see the VII as a viable product. At $300 with 8gb I'd buy in a heartbeat.

          • elstaci

            In my opinion, The way I see it, AMD is going about it the right way. Why incorporated a new technology such a Ray Tracing when there is very little support for it and it will drive up the GPU price by a few hundred dollars more.


            Users tend to look at the cost of a GPU first and then see what technology it has for the price being offered.  Nvidia may had have a slight upbeat in sales due to Ray Tracing but in the end when User see that they are paying several hundred dollars for a technology that they can't use in most of their daily computer use, Users will start buying cheaper comparable GPU cards as Nvidia's GPU cards with Ray Tracing but without Ray tracing. This is where AMD will come out eventually ahead. When Ray Tracing is more wide spread in games and Apps, than AMD will start incorporating the new technology in their GPU cards. By then GPU with Ray Tracing might be a lot cheaper than it is now.


            I am speaking as a User that can't afford to purchase a 700.00 plus GPU card. I first look at the price and then I look to see what technology it has and also the quality of the product. The Price I will be looking at is those within my budget. That is one of the main reason I started purchasing AMD CPUs when they first came out and later on AMD GPU cards. They were less expensive but had comparable technology to the more expensive rivals.

            1 person found this helpful
              • ajlueke

                The problem now is, they aren't cheaper than the NVidia cards.  They are priced according to the price/performance of NVidia's product stack.


                The GTX 1080 in 2016 at $549.  Today, in 2019, that price point is occupied by the 2070 a card that basically performs identically.


                Similarily, the GTX 1080 Ti launched nearly 2 years ago at the $699 price point.  Today, the RTX 2080 occupies that price with virtually identical performance.


                Now AMD puts out a 1080 Ti card (two years after NVidia), and asks the identical price.


                We are in a period of nearly unprecedented price/performance stagnation.  Every time a new faster GPU launches, it doesn't replace a slower GPU at the same price, it occupies a new/higher price point.  AMD used to reign that in, with the 4870, 5870, even Polaris.  Not so much lately.

                1 person found this helpful