Bad news: AMD may have launched RDNA 3 before it was ready

Bad news: AMD may have launched RDNA 3 before it was ready

The new AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX and RX 7900 XT are already here, but a new claim suggests they might not be, at least not yet.

According to the claim, AMD decided to ship the GPUs in an unfinished state, and not everything can be fixed by simply updating drivers. Did AMD rush to release the new graphics cards before they were ready?

AMD’s new flagships have just been launched recently, and based on our own testing, we can say that they are mostly suitable to compete with the Nvidia RTX 4080, although their ray tracing performance leaves a lot to be desired. However, some users have found the overall performance offered by the RX 7900 XTX and the RX 7900 XT to be inconsistent, and Kepler_L2 on Twitter may have discovered why.

According to the Twitter user, the Navi 31 A0 silicon used in these early RDNA 3 cards comes with dysfunctional shadow prefetch units. This bug is believed to be found in three chips, including the flagship Navi 31 (GFX1100), as well as the GFX1102 (Navi 33) and GFX1103. The latter is not a discrete GPU chip, but rather the upcoming APU series. So far these problems seem to be present on every chip except Navi 32.

Assuming this is true, it can lead to poor game performance, including stuttering or frame rate drops. What’s worse is, as Kepler claims, this bug can’t be fixed by software and driver updates alone, implying that the GPUs currently out will always be damaged by it in some way.

Even if AMD were to release new versions of the GPU with finished silicon, some people will be unhappy if they already bought the “defective” GPU. Fortunately, driver optimization can be helpful here, and it’s possible that most users won’t notice this problem.

It’s getting weirder and weirder. First it runs MW2 (1080p) at ~350 FPS with ~2900 MHz clocks. But an hour and a reboot or two later it’s doing ~300 FPS with t~2400 MHz.

Same game, same test run, same settings.

Now retesting the XTX, suddenly the same thing: +20% FPS out of nowhere.

— Nadalina (@NadaOverbeeke) December 14, 2022

Several reviewers noted some inconsistencies in the clock speeds and performance of the 7900 XTX and the 7900 XT. While it’s pretty clear that the GPU won’t reach as high as 3GHz in gaming tests, it sometimes comes close to that number; however, the speeds fluctuate in some cases. Several reviewers reported clock speeds varying between 2.4GHz and 2.9GHz while running the same game. It was spotted by Wccftech.

Many people were hoping to find a way to escape Nvidia’s steep prices while still buying a card suitable for 4K gaming, and AMD’s RDNA 3 seemed like the perfect solution. Even with these flaws, the RX 7900 XTX is undoubtedly one of the best GPUs in terms of value, but it’s true that AMD hasn’t delivered a massive generational leap from RDNA 2 to RDNA 3. Shipping an unfinished chip is on another level, if that is the case.

Until AMD itself confirms that this is the case, it’s best to take these reports with a bit of skepticism. If the problem is real and significant, it may or may not be fixed by driver updates. The company will hopefully soon shed some light on the matter now that it has come to the public.

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