Yesterday was a big day for AMD as it unveiled the first graphics cards based upon the RDNA 2 architecture. I'm sure most of you will have read and thoroughly digested the HEXUS editor's analysis and views on the Radeon RX 6000 Series by now. One could summarise that AMD is definitely back in the game with a winning halo GPU and excellent flagship options - but of course real-world testing will be needed as proof of the pudding.
AMD did provide some quite in depth descriptions and detailed specs for the new Radeon RX 6900 XT, RX 6800 XT, and RX 6800 graphics cards - but some commented on the lack of coverage of raytracing performance and what AMD's answer to DLSS was going to be. Thankfully in the wake of the presentation featuring Dr Lisa Su, and another hosted by Frank Azor, some other pertinent info has emerged that will cast some light on AMD's hardware raytracing and DLSS alternative tech.
The Radeon RX 6000 Series takes full advantage of DirectX12 Ultimate, including DirectX Raytracing support. AMD doesn't set aside some CUs for raytracing tasks but instead includes one dedicated Ray Accelerator per CU.
If you head on over to the official AMD RDNA 2 technologies page you will find the first verified performance indicator for this hardware. I've quoted AMD's footnote on the comparative performance below:
"Measured by AMD engineering labs 8/17/2020 on an AMD RDNA 2 based graphics card, using the Procedural Geometry sample application from Microsoft’s DXR SDK, the AMD RDNA 2 based graphics card gets up to 13.8x speedup (471 FPS) using HW based raytracing vs using the Software DXR fallback layer (34 FPS) at the same clocks. Performance may vary. RX-571"
So, it is pretty interesting that the raytracing hardware is nearly 14x faster than software rendering of the same scene, but how does that compare to Nvidia's RTX cards? Industry insider @ghost_motley says that an Asus GeForce RTX 3080 TUF scores 630 FPS in this benchmark, which is about a third faster than the AMD hardware tested. A follow up comment shared a score for a stock GeForce RTX 2080: 308 FPS.
New games that support raytracing on AMD RDNA 2 GPUs
If you watch yesterday's 'Where Gaming Begins: Ep. 2' presentation video from about 16.mins 40s in you can get a glimpse of the first games optimised for AMD RDNA 2 with features such as AMD FidelityFX, Variable Rate Shading (VRS), DirectX 12 Ultimate support, and yes - DirectX Raytracing (DXR).
Far Cry 6 supports lots of new GPU tech from AMD including; FidelityFX CAS, DXR Raytracing, and Variable Rate Shading. World of Warcraft: Shadowlands is also confirmed to feature DXR Ray Tracing accelerated by the latest RDNA 2 GPUs. The RiftBreaker benefits from Variable Rate Shading plus raytraced shadows for responsive and immersive visuals. Dirt 5 and Godfall also support various new AMD graphic technologies.
Has AMD got answer to DLSS tech?
For details about AMD's answer to DLSS you will have to put up with some rather thin gravy for now. In case you need an intro to Nvidia's DLSS tech, please check over our previous articles, especially the more recent ones which discuss DLSS 2.0. In essence, Nvidia asserts that "DLSS 2.0 offers image quality comparable to native resolution while rendering only one quarter to one half of the pixels." It works thanks to AI/Deep Learning, and helps make up for the performance impacts seen previously in graphics card architectures which are taxed heavily by raytracing effects.
At release time there will be no such tech available for Radeon RX 6000 GPU buyers but AMD is working hard on implementing something similar. Tom Warren from The Verge said that AMD's DLSS-alike technology will be "open and cross-platform, which could mean it'll come to Xbox Series X and PS5". In his linked article, Warren says that "AMD is working with a number of partners on this technology, and it’s expecting strong industry support". The tech won't be ready for the November/December launches of the first new Radeon RX 6000 graphics cards, so it is another story of wait-and-see.