RDNA (microarchitecture)

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AMD RDNA logo.svg
Release dateJuly 7, 2019; 3 years ago (July 7, 2019)[1]
Fabrication processTSMC N7
PredecessorGraphics Core Next 5
SuccessorRDNA 2
A generic block diagram of a GPU.

RDNA (Radeon DNA[2][3]) is a graphics processing unit (GPU) microarchitecture and accompanying instruction set architecture developed by Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). It is the successor to their Graphics Core Next (GCN) microarchitecture/instruction set. The first product lineup featuring RDNA was the Radeon RX 5000 series of video cards, launched on July 7, 2019.[1][4] The architecture is also planned to be used in mobile products.[5] It is manufactured and fabricated with TSMC's N7 FinFET graphics chips used in the Navi series of AMD Radeon graphics cards.[6]

The second iteration of RDNA was first featured in the PlayStation 5[7][8] and Xbox Series X and Series S consoles.[9] Both consoles utilize a custom RDNA 2-based graphics solution as the basis for their GPU microarchitecture. On PC, RDNA 2 is featured in the Radeon RX 6000 series of video cards, which first launched in November 2020.[10]

RDNA 1[edit]

Release dateJuly 7, 2019; 3 years ago (July 7, 2019)
CodenameNavi 1
Fabrication processTSMC N7 FinFET
PredecessorGraphics Core Next 5
SuccessorRDNA 2

RDNA 1 (also RDNA1)[11][12] is the first implementation of the RDNA microarchitecture and is the successor to the Radeon RX Vega series.[13][14] The launch occurred on July 7, 2019.[15]


Die shot of the RX 5500 X's RDNA GPU

The architecture features a new processor design, although the first details released at AMD's Computex keynote hints at aspects from the previous Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture being present for backwards compatibility purposes, which is especially important for its use (in the form of RDNA 2) in the major ninth generation game consoles (the Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5) to preserve native compatibility with their pre-existing eighth generation game libraries designed for GCN. It will feature multi-level cache hierarchy and an improved rendering pipeline, with support for GDDR6 memory.

Starting with the architecture itself, one of the biggest changes for RDNA is the width of a wavefront, the fundamental group of work. GCN in all of its iterations was 64 threads wide, meaning 64 threads were bundled together into a single wavefront for execution. RDNA drops this to a native 32 threads wide. At the same time, AMD has expanded the width of their SIMDs from 16 slots to 32 (aka SIMD32), meaning the size of a wavefront now matches the SIMD size.[16]

RDNA also introduces working primitive shaders. While the feature was present in the hardware of the Vega architecture, it was difficult to get a real-world performance boost from and thus AMD never enabled it. Primitive shaders in RDNA are compiler-controlled.[16]

The display controller in RDNA has been updated to support Display Stream Compression 1.2a, allowing output in 4k@240 Hz, HDR 4K@120 Hz, and HDR 8K@60 Hz.[16][17]

Instruction set[edit]

AMD's GPUOpen website hosts a PDF document aiming to describe the environment, the organization and the program state of AMD “RDNA” Generation devices. It details the instruction set and the microcode formats native to this family of processors that are accessible to programmers and compilers.[18]

Differences between GCN and RDNA[edit]

There are architectural changes which affect how code is scheduled:

  1. Single cycle instruction issue:
    • GCN issued one instruction per wave once every 4 cycles.
    • RDNA issues instructions every cycle.
  2. Wave32:
    • GCN used a wavefront size of 64 threads (work items).
    • RDNA supports both wavefront sizes of 32 and 64 threads.
  3. Workgroup Processors:
    • GCN grouped the shader hardware into "compute units" (CUs) which contained scalar ALUs and vector ALUs, LDS and memory access. One CU contains 4 SIMD16s which share one path to memory.
    • RDNA introduced the "workgroup processor" ("WGP"). The WGP replaces the compute unit as the basic unit of shader computation hardware/computing. One WGP encompasses 2 CUs. This allows significantly more compute power and memory bandwidth to be directed at a single workgroup. In RDNA, 1 CU is one half of a WGP.

RDNA 2[edit]

Release dateNovember 18, 2020; 20 months ago (November 18, 2020)
CodenameNavi 2X
Fabrication processTSMC N7
PredecessorRDNA 1
SuccessorRDNA 3

RDNA 2[19] (also RDNA2)[20] is the successor to the RDNA microarchitecture. It was first publicly announced in early 2020 with a projected release in Q4 2020.[20][21] According to statements from AMD, RDNA 2 would be a "refresh" of the RDNA architecture.[22]

More information about RDNA 2 was made public on AMD's Financial Analyst Day on March 5, 2020.[23][21][24] AMD claimed that it would provide a 50% performance-per-watt improvement over RDNA, with increases in clock speed and instructions-per-clock.[25] Additional features confirmed by AMD include real-time, hardware accelerated ray tracing, "Infinity Cache", mesh shaders, sampler feedback and variable rate shading.[25][10] The company announced that RDNA 2 would be used in next-generation gaming consoles and PC graphics cards[25] code-named "Navi 2X" and also nicknamed as "Big Navi".[25]

AMD unveiled the Radeon RX 6000 series, its next-gen RDNA 2 graphics cards at an online event on October 28, 2020.[26][27] The lineup initially consists of the RX 6800, RX 6800 XT and RX 6900 XT.[28][29] The RX 6800 and 6800 XT launched on November 18, 2020, with the RX 6900 XT being released on December 8, 2020.[10] Further variants including a Radeon RX 6700 (XT) series based on Navi 22, later launched on March 18, 2021.[30][31][32][33]

On May 31, 2021, AMD launched the RX 6000M series of GPUs designed for laptops.[34][35] These include the RX 6600M, RX 6700M, and RX 6800M. These were made available beginning on June 1, 2021.[34]

On June 1, 2021, AMD's CEO Dr. Lisa Su and Tesla, Inc.'s CEO Elon Musk confirmed that the entertainment systems of Tesla's new Model S and Model X are powered by RDNA 2.[36]

It will be used as a graphic architecture for Samsung Electronics' mobile AP to be released in 2022.[37]

Usage in video game consoles[edit]

Custom configurations of the RDNA 2 graphics microarchitecture is used in the PlayStation 5[7][38] from Sony, Xbox Series X and Series S consoles[9] from Microsoft, with proprietary tweaks and different GPU modifications in each system's implementation.

Valve announced on July 15, 2021 that their Steam Deck would feature the RDNA 2 architecture. The Steam Deck was released in February 2022.[39]

RDNA 3[edit]

Fabrication processTSMC N5
PredecessorRDNA 2

RDNA 3 (also RDNA3) is the upcoming successor to the RDNA 2 microarchitecture and is scheduled for a 2022 release as per AMD's gaming GPU roadmap.[40][41][42]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b AMD press release: "AMD Announces Next-Generation Leadership Products at Computex 2019 Keynote". AMD.com. Retrieved October 5, 2019
  2. ^ Smith, Ryan (26 May 2019). "Home> GPUs AMD Teases First Navi GPU Products: RX 5700 Series Launches in July, 25% Improved Perf-Per-Clock". AnandTech. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  3. ^ "AMD RDNA Architecture".
  4. ^ AMD launches RX 5700 XT and RX 5700 GPUs with RDNA architecture
  5. ^ Smith, Ryan (10 June 2019). "GPUs AMD Announces Radeon RX 5700 XT & RX 5700: The Next Gen of AMD Video Cards Starts on July 7th At $449/$379". AnandTech. p. 1. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  6. ^ "AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT release date, price, specs, and performance". PCGamesN. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  7. ^ a b Funk, Ben (December 12, 2020). "Sony PS5 Gets A Full Teardown Detailing Its RDNA 2 Guts And Glory". Hot Hardware. Retrieved January 3, 2021.
  8. ^ @Radeon (June 11, 2021). "We're proud that our groundbreaking RDNA 2 and Zen architectures helped enable incredible next-gen PS5 experiences like Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart! #RatchetPS5" (Tweet). Retrieved June 11, 2021 – via Twitter.
  9. ^ a b Smith, Ryan (February 24, 2020). "Microsoft Drops More Xbox Series X Tech Specs: Zen 2 + RDNA 2, 12 TFLOPs GPU, HDMI 2.1, & a Custom SSD". AnandTech. Retrieved March 19, 2020.
  10. ^ a b c Judd, Will (October 28, 2020). "AMD unveils three Radeon 6000 graphics cards with ray tracing and RTX-beating performance". Eurogamer. Retrieved October 28, 2020.
  11. ^ ""RDNA 1.0" Instruction Set Architecture Reference Guide" (PDF). developer.amd.com. Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. Retrieved 28 April 2022.
  12. ^ "AMD RDNA Architecture". www.amd.com. Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. Retrieved 28 April 2022.
  13. ^ Ung, Gordon (May 26, 2019). "AMD flexes 7nm muscle with a 12-core Ryzen 9 CPU and Radeon RX 5000 graphics cards". PCWorld. Retrieved April 18, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. ^ Chacos, Brad (July 7, 2019). "AMD Radeon RX 5700 and 5700 XT review: Blazing new trails". PCWorld. Retrieved April 18, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  15. ^ "AMD announces $449 Radeon RX 5700 XT and $379 5700 for July 7 launch". PCGamesN. Retrieved 2019-06-10.
  16. ^ a b c Smith, Ryan (10 June 2019). "GPUs AMD Announces Radeon RX 5700 XT & RX 5700: The Next Gen of AMD Video Cards Starts on July 7th At $449/$379". AnandTech. p. 2. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  17. ^ Stobing, Chris (10 June 2019). "AMD Details Radeon RX 5700 'Navi' GPUs: Here's What You Need to Know". PC Magazine. Ziff Davis, LLC. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  18. ^ "AMD RDNA 1.0 Instruction Set Architecture". GPUOpen.
  19. ^ "AMD Investor Relations presention (PDF)". AMD.com. Advanced Micro Devices. 2019. Retrieved 2020-02-08.
  20. ^ a b "Navi Refresh and RDNA2 Both In 2020, According to AMD". anandtech.com. AnandTech. 2020-01-28. Retrieved 2020-02-08.
  21. ^ a b "AMD 'Big Navi' GPU might be right around the corner – but don't hold your breath". techradar.com. TechRadar. 2020-02-03. Retrieved 2020-02-08.
  22. ^ "AMD to Introduce New Next-Gen RDNA GPUs in 2020, Not a Typical 'Refresh' of Navi". tomshardware.com. Tom's Hardware. 2020-01-29. Retrieved 2020-02-08.
  23. ^ "AMD will unveil RDNA 2 graphics cards on March 5". pcgamesn.com. PCGamesN. 2020-01-29. Retrieved 2020-02-08.
  24. ^ March 2020, Paul Alcorn 05. "AMD Financial Analyst Day 2020: CPU and GPU Roadmaps, X3D Die Stacking Revealed". Tom's Hardware. Retrieved 2020-03-07.
  25. ^ a b c d Smith, Ryan. "AMD's RDNA 2 Gets A Codename: "Navi 2X" Comes This Year With 50% Improved Perf-Per-Watt". www.anandtech.com. Retrieved 2020-03-07.
  26. ^ Garreffa, Anthony (September 9, 2020). "AMD to reveal next-gen Big Navi RDNA 2 graphics cards on October 28". TweakTown. Retrieved September 9, 2020.
  27. ^ Lyles, Taylor (September 9, 2020). "AMD's next-generation Zen 3 CPUs and Radeon RX 6000 'Big Navi' GPU will be revealed next month". The Verge. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  28. ^ "AMD Teases Radeon RX 6000 Card Performance Numbers: Aiming For 3080?". anandtech.com. AnandTech. 2020-10-08. Retrieved 2020-10-25.
  29. ^ "AMD Announces Ryzen "Zen 3" and Radeon "RDNA2" Presentations for October: A New Journey Begins". anandtech.com. AnandTech. 2020-09-09. Retrieved 2020-10-25.
  30. ^ Hollister, Sean (March 3, 2021). "AMD announces $479 Radeon RX 6700 XT, says it will have 'significantly more GPUs available'". The Verge. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  31. ^ Mujtaba, Hassan (2020-11-30). "AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT 'Navi 22 GPU' Custom Models Reportedly Boost Up To 2.95 GHz". Wccftech. Retrieved 2020-12-03.
  32. ^ Tyson, Mark (December 3, 2020). "AMD CEO keynote scheduled for CES 2020 on 12th January". HEXUS. Retrieved 2020-12-03.
  33. ^ Cutress, Ian (January 12, 2021). "AMD to Launch Mid-Range RDNA 2 Desktop Graphics in First Half 2021". AnandTech. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
  34. ^ a b Chin, Monica (2021-05-31). "AMD announces the Radeon RX 6000M series with RDNA 2 architecture". The Verge. Retrieved 2021-06-01.
  35. ^ "AMD launches Radeon RX 6000M GPUs for gaming laptops". VentureBeat. 2021-06-01. Retrieved 2021-06-01.
  36. ^ Alvarez, Simon (2021-06-01). "AMD confirms Tesla's new Model S and Model X will boast RDNA 2 GPUs". teslarati.com. Retrieved 2021-06-01.
  37. ^ "AMD's RDNA 2-powered Exynos GPU 30% faster than current Mali GPU".
  38. ^ Gartenberg, Chaim (March 18, 2020). "Sony reveals full PS5 hardware specifications". The Verge. Retrieved January 3, 2021.
  39. ^ "Steam Deck". store.steampowered.com. 2021-07-15. Retrieved 2021-07-16.
  40. ^ "AMD: Zen4 and RDNA3 on track for 2022 launch". Videocardz.com. July 28, 2021. Retrieved July 29, 2021.
  41. ^ Gapo, Branko (June 23, 2021). "AMD RDNA 3 Release Date, Price And Specs". GPU Mag. Retrieved July 24, 2021.
  42. ^ Soutter, Neil (January 25, 2021). "AMD RX 7000 series could be a performance monster, with much better ray tracing performance". Game Debate. Retrieved January 29, 2021.

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