Launching Immediately: AMD’s Radeon RX 6900 XT

This morning AMD is releasing the ultimate and most elusive member of their preliminary wave of Radeon RX 6000 sequence playing cards: the Radeon RX 6900 XT. The flagship half for AMD’s new RDNA 2 GPU structure, the 6900 XT is all of the Radeon AMD may muster for this era, and maybe a bit extra. Marking how far AMD has are available a single era, the RX 6900 XT is their first actual shot on the very high of the market in years; and whereas AMD doesn’t fairly attain that purpose, they’ve nonetheless succeeded at placing collectively an fascinating and highly effective video card for the $1000 market.

Just like the Radeon RX 6800 XT and 6800, the 6900 XT was introduced again at AMD’s GPU keynote in November, the place AMD gave the world the complete story, spec. So though the 6800 XT launched first, it might not be the ultimate phrase from AMD; AMD had another video card within the pipeline – much more highly effective than the 6800 XT – and with it they might be capping off what has been a busy fall season for video playing cards.

Beneath the hood, AMD’s new flagship video card is predicated on the identical Navi 21 silicon that has pushed all the opposite RX 6000 sequence playing cards so far. Separating the brand new flagship from its earlier siblings, the brand new video card makes use of a fully-enabled model of the Navi 21 chip, permitting AMD’s lead RDNA2 structure GPU to lastly put its greatest foot ahead with reference to efficiency. That is coupled with some further binning on AMD’s half implies that the 6900 XT not simply the quickest Radeon but, but additionally that AMD has left no stone unturned of their quest to maximise their efficiency.

The result’s, as alluded to earlier, a little bit of a moonshot. AMD will get the benefit of being the second mover – watching NVIDIA after which reacting to them – which has helped AMD to determine what it may and might’t do. NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 3090 is extremely quick, however because the launch of the RTX 3080 and RX 6800 XT have since confirmed, it’s not solely out of attain. So AMD has determined to have a go at it – to compete for the flagship spot and the coveted efficiency crown – by constructing one of the best card they may.

The flip aspect to that, is that it means the 6900 XT will likely be dwelling as much as being the cream of the Radeon crop in a couple of means. By requiring a fully-enabled and binned Navi 21 chip, AMD is reaching deep into their yields to assemble their card, and people chips are going to be comparatively uncommon. Not it is a new downside for a GPU producer by any means, but it surely takes on an extra diploma of problem when these chips are 519mm2 slices of a really beneficial 7nm wafer. Finally, the $1000 price ticket implies that it is a video card that many will need and few can afford; however that can nonetheless be sufficient to maintain AMD and TSMC busy for months to come back.

AMD Radeon RX Collection Specification Comparability
  AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT AMD Radeon RX 6800 AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT
Stream Processors 5120

(80 CUs)

(72 CUs)

(60 CUs)

(40 CUs)
ROPs 128 128 96 64
Recreation Clock 2015MHz 2015MHz 1815MHz 1755MHz
Increase Clock 2250MHz 2250MHz 2105MHz 1905MHz
Throughput (FP32) 20.6 TFLOPs 18.6 TFLOPs 13.9 TFLOPs 9.75 TFLOPs
Reminiscence Clock 16 Gbps GDDR6 16 Gbps GDDR6 16 Gbps GDDR6 14 Gbps GDDR6
Reminiscence Bus Width 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit
Infinity Cache 128MB 128MB 128MB N/A
Whole Board Energy 300W 300W 250W 225W
Manufacturing Course of TSMC 7nm TSMC 7nm TSMC 7nm TSMC 7nm
Transistor Depend 26.8B 26.8B 26.8B 10.3B
Structure RDNA2 RDNA2 RDNA2 RDNA (1)
GPU Navi 21 Navi 21 Navi 21 Navi 10
Launch Date 12/08/2020 11/18/2020 11/18/2020 07/07/2019
Launch Worth $999 $649 $579 $399

Diving into the specs, what we’re taking a look at is a bona fide, real, fully-enabled Navi 21 half. All 80 CUs and 128 ROPs are energetic on this card, permitting Navi 21 to indicate off simply how highly effective it truly is. AMD is clocking the cardboard the identical because the 6800 XT, so meaning a peak clockspeed (enhance clock) of 2250MHz, whereas the official recreation clock score is 2015MHz. So on paper, the 6900 XT needs to be 11% sooner in texture/compute/RT-bound workloads, whereas pixel-bound workloads needs to be comparatively unchanged from the 6800 XT. It’s admittedly not the biggest leap, but it surely’s sufficient to justify a separate SKU – and for AMD to make a run on the GeForce RTX 3090.

Talking of clockspeeds, like the opposite RX 6000 sequence playing cards, the RX 6900 additionally comes with a few different efficiency presets. The Rage Mode preset permits for peak clockspeeds as excessive as 2310MHz and a recreation clock of 2075MHz (~3% greater), whereas the quiet mode dials this right down to a peak of 2185MHz and a rated recreation clock of 1940MHz respectively.

As for reminiscence, as a result of AMD was already making full use of Navi 21’s 8 reminiscence channels for the 6800 XT, they don’t have the identical headroom to faucet into right here for the 6900 XT. Consequently the cardboard ships with the identical 16GB of GDDR6 clocked at 16Gbps/pin, giving it a complete reminiscence bandwidth of 512GB/sec. Which means the 6900 XT will hit reminiscence bottlenecks in roughly the identical place because the 6800 XT does, which may restrict a few of the card’s real-world efficiency good points versus what we see on paper. AMD’s 128MB Infinity Cache remains to be in play right here as effectively, although like the remainder of the reminiscence subsystem, it’s not clocked any greater on the 6900 XT than the 6800 XT.

It’s additionally value noting that AMD’s Good Entry Reminiscence expertise is accessible for the 6900 XT as effectively. Utilizing the resizing characteristic for the PCIe Base Handle Register (BAR), AMD is ready to squeeze out a bit extra efficiency from their playing cards by chopping down on some PCIe switch bottlenecks. Sadly SAM assist nonetheless requires utilizing certainly one of AMD’s latest-generation Ryzen 5000 processors – which like AMD’s video playing cards, are arduous to come back by proper now – so not everybody will be capable to instantly reap the benefits of it.

In the meantime, due to AMD’s binning, the corporate has been capable of maintain the ability consumption of the 6900 XT on the identical 300 Watts TBP (Whole Board Energy) because the 6800 XT. Which means the extra efficiency unlocked by the 6900 XT largely comes “totally free”, as AMD’s use of higher-grade chips offsets what would usually be an influence penalty from lighting up Navi 21’s final 8 CUs. And although not apples-to-apples, it provides AMD a bonus over NVIDIA, whose RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 playing cards are rated for 320W and 350W respectively.

AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT (Reference Card)

Given their an identical TDPs and GPUs, it’s no shock that AMD is basically reusing the board and cooler design from the 6800 XT. AMD’s newest era design dealt with 300 Watts fairly effectively, so there’s little that must be modified for the 6900 XT.

For the 6900 XT launch, AMD despatched over a correct image of the PCB, confirming that this is identical board design (if not an identical PCB) as to what’s used for the 6800 XT. The one distinction on the floor is that AMD has populated the ultimate VRM section, which went unused on the 6800 XT. Consequently the 6900 XT provides 16 VRM phases, 3 of which go to the VRAM whereas the opposite 13 feed the GPU. Yet one more VRM section shouldn’t make any radical variations, but it surely’s another factor AMD has performed to squeeze out a bit extra effectivity from the cardboard and permit them to carry the road on TDP at 300 Watts.

As for AMD’s cooler, this is identical cooler that’s used within the 6800 XT. Which is to say a large 2.5-slot, triple fan open air-style cooler. With a vapor chamber inside to assist draw warmth into the fins, it’s a tried and true design, and definitely AMD’s greatest tri-fan cooler so far. Coupled with the above-average top of the cardboard (120mm), the 6900 XT finally ends up being a thick card, although not unusually so from different 300W+ card designs. Accordingly, you’ll need to give the cooler a large berth for air consumption. In any other case the ten.5-inch (267mm) size implies that it ought to match into most instances with out working into the entrance of the case.

And since that is based mostly on the 6800 XT, the ability and port specs are additionally the identical. Feeding the beast are a pair of PCIe 8-pin energy sockets on the top-rear of the cardboard. In the meantime the cardboard provides a complete of 4 show outputs: 1 HDMI 2.1 port, 2 DisplayPort 1.4 outputs, and a USB-C port that provides DisplayPort 1.4 alt mode performance.

Product Positioning & The Competitors

As AMD’s flagship video card, the 6900 XT is primarily aimed toward 4K gaming with no compromises – or not less than as few as are required in the present day. The 6800 XT already did pretty effectively right here, so the 6900 XT does even higher; there are few video games it may’t common 60fps or higher at, even in 4K. So whereas AMD pitches their complete RX 6800/6900 product stack as being for 4K gaming, the RX 6900 XT is actually essentially the most succesful for the duty.

For in the present day’s launch, the preliminary wave of playing cards will all be AMD’s reference design. Nevertheless AMD’s board companions are designing their very own customized playing cards as effectively, and in response to AMD these will likely be obtainable “shortly” after in the present day’s launch. The AIB companions are actually leaping on the probability to supply such a high-end video card, and not less than one press launch has already gone out even earlier than AMD’s embargo. On the entire, count on most builders to reuse their triple-fan designs from their customized 6800 XTs.

Sizing up AMD’s product stack, on the one hand, the advantage of launching your high card final is that it isn’t going to cannibalize your different card gross sales. Then again, it makes for a noticeably costly half; the RX 6900 XT is a flagship card, and it’s priced accordingly. The $1000 MSRP is over 50% greater than the RX 6800 XT, and the efficiency good points are nowhere close to that top. Put one other means, the 6900 XT requires the easiest in Navi 21 silicon, and AMD is charging costs to match. It’s not a video card for discount hunters or players seeking to be economical; the 6900 XT is for the few players who can drop a kilobuck on getting the easiest video card that AMD could make.

As for AMD’s aggressive positioning with the cardboard, the 6900 XT finds itself in an fascinating but odd spot. The 6900 XT doesn’t actually have a peer amongst NVIDIA’s playing cards; it outclasses the RTX 3080, however it may’t sustain with the RTX 3090. It’s someplace within the center, and unsurprisingly the pricing displays this.

So if you happen to take a look at the 6900 XT from a top-down perspective, then what you have got is a card that’s nearly pretty much as good because the RTX 3090 for $500 much less. AMD can’t take the crown, however they’ll positive spoil NVIDIA’s personal flagship card. On the flip aspect, taking a look at issues from a bottom-up perspective, and far the identical could be mentioned concerning the RTX 3080: the RX 6900 XT is healthier, but it surely isn’t $300 higher. Workstation customers could beg to vary on the final level due to the cardboard’s 16GB of VRAM, however for gaming it’s a bit extra clear-cut. And naturally, none of this touches the same old intangible options for either side, corresponding to Radeon Anti-Lag and DLSS.

However, after all, this assumes that any of the latest-generation video playing cards are available from retailers, which continues to not be the case. AMD and NVIDIA alike are dealing with extra demand than they’ll provide, and even at $1000 the 6900 XT is in the identical boat. So I’m anticipating to see it promote out rapidly this morning, after which it’ll be topic to the identical spotty availability as different high-end video playing cards. Which simply goes to indicate how a lot issues have improved for AMD with this era – they’re capable of make a $1000 video card that’s assured to promote out – albeit additionally a reminder that the present instances are removed from regular.

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