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Confusing AMD RDNA 3 leaks make us wonder what’s really going on with next-gen GPUs

AMD Radeon RX 6800XT side view
(Image credit: AMD)

AMD’s flagship RDNA 3 graphics card might be a bit faster than recent rumors have indicated, if a fresh leak is on the money – but further chatter from the grapevine suggests otherwise.

Overall, it’s a rather confusing picture regarding the potential performance of AMD’s next-gen GPUs, a point that YouTuber RedGamingTech is quick to acknowledge in their latest video.

In that clip, RedGamingTech (RGT) is more positive about RDNA 3 than other sources we’ve heard from recently, suggesting that while we may not see a performance boost of anything like 3x as has been floated via the rumor mill in the past, we should see better than 2x which some more recent leaks have hinted at – but maybe not that much better.

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RGT believes that dropping expectations for the next flagship to just 2x, or double the performance of the 6900 XT, is overly conservative, and that we should be looking at around a 2.1x to 2.5x boost. So, taking an average, perhaps something like 2.3x better performance – for gaming (rasterization, not ray tracing) that is. However, another source recently (opens in new tab) suggested around 2.25x better frame rates for 4K gaming.

Indeed, RGT observes that early 3x expectations could simply have been referring to raw performance rather than gaming frame rate guesses (all of this is, of course, speculation and guesswork).

Elsewhere, though, the developer of CapFrameX (a utility designed for frame times capture and analysis), another regular leak peddler, has heard something about RDNA 3’s gaming performance and “it doesn’t look good” apparently, but with the caveat that this might be down to wonky pre-release drivers (or just plain incorrect).

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It does, however, back up the recent suggestion from another prolific Twitter-based leaker, Kopite7kimi, that AMD’s next-gen GPUs are ‘disappointing’ no less, presumably in comparison to what we can expect from Nvidia’s RTX 4090 (which has suddenly been rumored to be much less power-hungry than previous speculation feared).

Kopite7kimi further clarified in another tweet (opens in new tab) that we can expect RX 7900 XT performance to be 2x the 6900 XT in 4K gaming, but with a much bigger leap for ray tracing performance to the tune of 3.5x (obviously, chuck in plenty of condiments with all this).

Coming back to RGT’s latest video, the leaker also touches on the issue of the Navi 31 flagship having a single GPU, rather than dual GPUs as was rumored to the case for some time (until the grapevine recently changed its tune). RGT theorizes that there may be a dual GPU version of RDNA 3 for professional users, and that AMD might have tested such a configuration for a gaming graphics card, but then abandoned the idea (or never even intended to make a dual GPU Radeon RX 7000 card in the first place).

Finally, RGT raises the possibility of AMD using VLIW2 tech with RDNA 3, which you can think of as a kind of implementation of hyper-threading for GPUs, thus possibly ‘doubling’ the purported core count of the 7900 XT – though the leaker sounds very uncertain on this point, and whether or not the rumored core count of 12,288 may be incorporating VLIW2 already (if it’s used, of course). 

qaThis sounds very tentative, even for a rumor, so we’d exercise an abundance of caution around the possible usage of VLIW2.


Analysis: Anything is possible for next-gen, including misdirection…

What do we make of all this? In terms of the performance guesswork, well, it’s exactly that – guesses with a seemingly wide spread of exactly how far the next-gen AMD flagship will notch things up.

Even the worst-case scenario of an apparent 2x gain over the RX 6900 XT hardly sounds like a disaster by any means – but the fear seemingly from some leakers is that it may look a bit on the slender side compared to what the RTX 4090 is purportedly set to do. And ultimately, that’s how the 7900 XT will be judged…

Whatever the case, as RGT underlines, when it comes to judging AMD’s incoming cards, it’s clear that there are varying levels of confusion around immature drivers, possible bugs in testing, and what performance metrics (benchmarks) sources may be citing when it comes to leakage.

Of course, there isn’t just uncertainty around AMD’s next-gen GPU performance, but also Nvidia’s. On the latter front, Kopite7kimi recently tweeted (opens in new tab): “I should repeat it again! Everything is possible”, before replying with a big tick to another commenter who suggested (opens in new tab): “Nvidia doing everything in its power to confuse leakers till the last possible moment.”

This ties in more broadly with the theory we’ve seen aired here and there on Twitter recently that the next-gen GPU leak landscape is such rocky and unpredictable terrain possibly due to AMD and Nvidia purposefully releasing bits of misdirection. Red herrings, if you will, to help obscure the true specs and keep people guessing as to how these next-gen graphics cards will turn out.

RGT concludes that Navi 31 specs remain an obvious “point of interest” but that they suspect “things are STILL wrong with the leaked specs”, so take all of the above with an appropriate sense of skepticism.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).