AMD has introduced the Radeon RX 6900 XT, Radeon RX 6800 XT and Radeon RX 6800: the first three GPUs in its new Radeon RX 6000 series of game cards based on the new RDNA 2 architecture.
The company positions the three "Big Navi" cards, which are to be shipped worldwide in November and December, as direct competitors of the current ampere-based GPUs of the GeForce RTX 30 series from Nvidia.
While we traditionally don't cover gaming GPUs on Greenscreen, the new RX 6000 series cards offer a number of features of interest to CG artists: in particular, dedicated ray tracing accelerator cores.
|AMD Radeon RX 6000 series GPU specifications|
|RX 6900 XT||RX 6800 XT||RX 6800||RX 5700 XT|
|Architecture||RDNA 2||RDNA 2||RDNA 2||RDNA|
|Music box (GHz) *||2.0||2.0||1.8||1.8|
|Boost clock (GHz)||2.3||2.3||2.1||1.9|
|GPU memory||16 GIGABYTE|
|Release date||December 2020||November 2020||November 2020||July 2019|
|RRP||$ 999||$ 649||$ 579||$ 399|
* In the AMD specifications for the RX 6000 series, the base clock speed is omitted in favor of the higher expected speed in the game.
How do the key specs compare to the current GeForce RTX GPUs from Nvidia?
Above you can see the most important technical data for the new cards and one of their predecessors: the RX 5700 XT from 2019.
In its own benchmarks, AMD compares the Radeon RX 6900 XT with the GeForce RTX 3090 from Nvidia, the RX 6800 XT with the RTX 3080 and the RX 6800 with the RTX 2080 Ti of the last generation, which stands for the unreleased RTX 3070.
In terms of core specs, the Radeon RX 6000 series cards take a beating with the Nvidia RTX 30 series cards they are up against. They offer higher boost clock rates, but lower FP32 processing power.
Both the price and the power consumption in the form of Total Board Power (TBP) speak in favor of AMD for the two high-end card pairs. in favor of Nvidia for the Radeon RX 6800 and the GeForce RTX 3070.
At 16 GB each, the integrated storage capacity of the Radeon RX 6000 series cards is less than that of the GeForce RTX 3090, but higher than that of the GeForce RTX 3080 and 3070.
New dedicated ray accelerators for the GPU ray tracing function – at least in playful renderers
We won't go into the details of the new RDNA 2 architecture of the Radeon RX 6000 Series cards here. (If you're interested, Anandtech has a thorough analysis.)
For CG artists, however, one feature is of particular interest: like the RTX cards from Nvidia, but unlike the earlier Radeon RX GPUs from AMD, the RX 6000 series has dedicated ray tracing cores.
Each processing unit on the card now has a “powerful Ray Accelerator engine with a fixed function” for the hardware-accelerated ray tracing function, analogous to the RT cores on Nvidia RTX cards.
The software can access the Ray Accelerators via DirectX 12's DXR API (DirectX Raytracing).
While DXR is used to speed up ray tracing in games – and in game engines commonly used for CG work, including Unreal Engine and Unity – it is used less often by traditional DCC applications.
Currently, most offline renderers that support hardware-accelerated ray tracing access the RT cores on RTX cards via Nvidia's own OptiX API, as is the case with the Cycles renderer from V-Ray and Blender.
Therefore, unless you are using Unreal Engine for rendering, it is unlikely that you will be able to use AMD's new Ray Accelerators to speed up your CG work when the Radeon RX 6000 series cards first ship.
It will be interesting to see if more DCC applications will support DXR for GPU ray tracing in the future.
An interesting part of AMD's strategy is FidelityFX, an open source developer toolkit for implementing hybrid rendering pipelines by selectively adding ray-traced effects to rasterized renderings.
While they are primarily game developers, it is also the approach that AMD takes in its own DCC tools, including the "full spectrum rendering" system in its Radeon ProRender renderer.
Price and shipping information
AMD's RX 6800 and Radeon RX 6800 XT should be available worldwide on November 18, 2020. Recommended prices are $ 579 and $ 649, respectively.
The RX 6900 XT should follow on December 8, 2020 with a suggested retail price of $ 999.
For more information on the Radeon RX 6000 series GPUs, visit the AMD website
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