There’s never been much love lost between AMD and Nvidia when it comes to GPUs, but Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang’s recent comments about AMD’s just-announced Radeon VIIare rather cutting.
Huang blasted the GPU as “underwhelming,” according to PCWorld, noting “The performance is lousy and there’s nothing new…[There’s] no ray tracing, no AI. It’s 7nm with HBM memory that barely keeps up with a 2080. And if we turn on DLSS we’ll crush it. And if we turn on ray tracing we’ll crush it.”
As for FreeSync, according to Jen-Hsun, it’s not even in competition with AMD. “We never competed,” Huang told PCWorld concerning FreeSync support. “(FreeSync) was never proven to work. As you know, we invented the area of adaptive sync. The truth is most of the FreeSync monitors do not work. They do not even work with AMD’s graphics cards.”
Huang went on to brag that the RTX 2080 is sold by every vendor before saying “It’s a weird launch, maybe they thought of it this morning.” Huang didn’t confine himself to insulting AMD; he also went after Intel, saying: “Intel’s graphics team is basically AMD, right?” Huang asked. “I’m trying to figure out AMD’s graphics team.”
Fact Check: Radeon VII vs. Nvidia RTX
AMD’s Radeon VII has not yet launched and its performance has not been measured. We can, however, estimate how the card might perform based on public statements. Anandtech’s Bench has data on GPU performance and the Vega 64 and RTX 2080 can be compared.
If we assume a flat 1.25x performance improvement over Vega 64, the field is mixed. In some cases, AMD would now be in competition with the RTX 2080. In some cases, it would still be behind. But AMD has never said that Radeon VII is 25 percent faster than Vega 64; it said only that it picked up 25 percent more performance in the same power envelope. That’s typically a reference to process node improvements rather than architectural improvements, and we don’t know if AMD fixed any low-hanging fruit with Radeon VII. It’s possible that the chip is nothing but a straight 7nm port. It’s also possible it picks up some additional perf.
Data by Anandtech. Vega 64 in blue, RTX 2080 in orange.
Regardless of how attractive Radeon VII is, Nvidia has no ground to stand on when it talks about offering lousy performance and underwhelming value, considering the entire Turing GPU family is nothing but a price increase married to promises of future gaming support for ray tracing features you can currently use in a single game and an admittedly nifty anti-aliasing feature available in just one other. In 2016, $350 bought you 8GB of Nvidia VRAM with the GTX 1070. In 2019, $350 buys you 6GB of Nvidia VRAM on the RTX 2060, despite the near-term arrival of new consoles and the inevitable increase in RAM demands that comes with each new gaming generation. Yes, more games will eventually feature RTX and DLSS support, but the state of access to these features today is very weak.
I’ll be the first to acknowledge that the Radeon VII could be underwhelming and the 6GB VRAM buffer on the RTX 2060 could be properly sized. But the company that’s spent four months trying to shove price increases, currently useless features, and reduced VRAM at the same price point down the throats of the gaming community doesn’t get to complain about the lack of features in its competitors’ product as if it had demonstrated some kind of amazing alternative value proposition.