Sash's Wishlist for Radeon over the next few years.
Updated: Mar 16, 2020
Christmas is coming, and I had to make a wishlist. Well, okay, it's still a couple months away but people around here already started putting up decorations. I, of course, had to make a Wishlist for Gender-Neutral Person of Christmas (did I rustle some jimmies xD, because it's a joke. Please don't hate me. Yes I know he's Father Christmas, he's also called Santa Claus or St. Nicholas)
Ugh, what was I saying? Oh yeah - I wanted to make a Wishlist of everything I want from Radeon over the next few years. Since we have the new RDNA architecture, it's like a clean slate for Radeon, and here's a few things I really want to see Team Red bring. I will probably update this list so check back if you really care. I don't mind if you don't!
Uhm, and I don't need to say this do I, this is obviously an opinion post. Like most of my stuff. Okay? :3
Sash's Wishlist for Radeon, 2020 and beyond ~
These aren't in any order of priority. I tried to order them, but I really want all of them. I think DXR support is the most important one for me, but it's not like the ones at the bottom of the list are hugely behind the one at the top.
1). DXR / Hardware Ray Tracing
Okay, here it is. I will say I am positively chomping at the bit for information about AMD's implementation of DXR/Hardware Ray Tracing. Now I've heard some bits about a hybrid approach using software and hardware functional units that promises flexibility and die-area efficiency (something that the consoles will no doubt require), and it excites me.
So the first thing on the wish list, is: I want a Radeon graphics card with Fast Ray Tracing capability. It doesn't have to beat NVidia's flagship, but something that offers the technology at a price that isn't too prohibitive. I'd also like to see the lower-end cards get some kind of support if possible, because the lower the cost of entry to Hardware Ray Tracing, the faster the adoption! I think the responsibility lies on AMD's shoulders to deliver that.
2). Higher Perf/watt and Low Profile / Slot-powered SFF capable Radeons
This isn't likely to be a priority for a lot of people, but hey this is my wishlist. I really, really want some best-in-class perf/watt. Navi 10 is absolutely a step in the right direction, but I cannot help draw comparisons with NVidia's 'Turing' class GPUs, and how the efficiency of those parts is still in the same leage (actually slightly superior in many cases, especially at high clock speeds, I talked about this here). It's great that AMD Radeon can now claim to be as efficient as NVidia's latest, but again I can't help being a bit underwhelmed given the process superiority that "Navi 10" has. That brings me to...
... Low Profile, Half-Height Radeon cards. Now, the fastest Low Profile Radeon is actually the RX 560 (or this thing, which by the way, looks really cute and awesome, can we get this in gaming form? Okay, it would likely be very hot). I only know of one Low Profile RX 560, and it was made by MSI but I never found it for sale here in the UK. Otherwise, the only other choice is the RX 550, which isn't really the sort of performance tier I am looking for.
GTX 1650's only saving grace is it's the fastest possible card you can put in a Half-height system. There's loads of half-height, Micro-ATX (slim) cases that I would absolutely love to deck out with a reasonably powerful GPU for gaming. Also, this case, which I have wanted to build a gaming system in for, well, ages.
RX 5500 has me really excited, because this part uses a 128-bit interface (that means only four DRAM chips) the PCB can be really small and compact, but the TBP of 150W makes me sad. Please, AMD, give us a LP, < 75W version of this card binned for Perf/watt. It would be the best Christmas Gift ever, short of me finally being happy with who I am. Ugh, that escalated quickly. Anyway~
3). Variable Rate Shading
One thing I notice is absent in the marketing material for the latest 'Navi 10' based cards is any support for Variable Rate Shading. Now, in my understanding this is similar to AMD's Rapid Packed Math, but instead of a specific shader being written from the start to use half-precision math (which would be calculated at twice speed on Navi and Vega), VRS actually requires the GPU to decide what precision to use, on-the-fly, based on IQ. It's a form of implementing mixed precision in shading work that reduces the time required to draw a frame, but running shaders that can tolerate lower precision (without IQ impact) at twice the speed. The building blocks for VRS support are there since GCN5, Vega, but I would like to see this implemented to give us feature parity with Turing. That, and it has a lot of potential to increase performance - especially on lower end cards (and integrated graphics, I await Vega-based 'Renoir' with bated breath...)
4). Return of High-end reference liquid coolers
AMD, please. There was a huge missed opportunity on the 50th Anniversary Editions of both the Radeon VII, and the RX 5700 XT, to use a premium, closed-loop liquid cooler. You could have even charged a bit more for it, I think people would still be interested in that. I would love to see the return of cards like the Fury X, and the Radeon RX Vega 64 Liquid Edition. Then you can pump the clock speeds to your heart's content and no one's going to complain that it's hot and loud. It'd also look absolutely amazing. Please?
5). Alternative to NVIDIA's Ansel and FreeStyle
When I had my RTX 2060 Super, I had a chance to play around with these features, and I must say, I really liked them. In Metro Exodus, it is really awesome to use. The FreeStyle filters are also pretty cool and you can apply sharpening to any game (even DX11) because I used in Warframe. Now, I know AMD has Radeon Image Sharpening and this, but currently RIS doesn't support DX11, but I know AMD has stated that DX11 support is coming. That is good, but...
... I really like the idea of being able to apply post-process effects to my video games, and take screenshots with the ability to customise the scene, on the fly, with the graphics driver software. So I want to see this in Radeon Software so we can have feature parity.
6). Worthy successor to RX 570
I hope this will come with RX 5500, but I will say that no other graphics card on the market made me as happy as the RX 570. This card made its way down to $150 and less, and here in the UK, 8GB RX 570s could be had for as low as £130, which is absolutely, well, insane. This card is the people's champion and lowered the price of fluid 1080p gaming to the masses, with no compromise on VRAM - which added to the card's longevity. In fact, this GPU became so legendary that it dominated the Perf/$ charts for over a year, and even today, still offers some of the best value 1080p gaming performance on the market.
7). Ultimate Performance
Okay, that title sounds cheesy, but by this I mean (let me say this is last but absolutely not least) I want Radeon to have the Top Dog. One of my dreams is to say to myself, "Okay I want the fastest graphics card on the Planet." and then not have to defacto buy a GeForce. I mean, I won't. The RTX 2080 Ti is absurdly priced, but I'd love to just have some choice at the Ultra-high end. I know you can do it. I believe in you. I mean, GPU chiplets are a thing, right? Even if you can't do the huge-die strategy. Oh, and bring back multi-GPU cards. One of my LIFE DREAMS (yes I'm sad) is to own a dual-GPU Card. Something like the R9 295X2, which was technically the fastest Graphics Card on the planet at the time (in games that scaled well with CrossFire). So I know you can do it. :3
I mean just look what you did to Intel. Intel is like, an order of magnitude larger than Nvidia. You got this, I believe in you, AMD! xD