AMD vs Nvidia is now a proper fight, and more tech news today

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Your tech news digest, by way of the DGiT Daily tech newsletter, for Thursday, 29 October 2020.

1. The GPU Battle Royale

RX6000

AMD has unveiled new flagship Radeon GPUs, high-end video cards starting with the Radeon RX 6800, RX 6800 XT and the top-spect RX 6900 XT.

  • These are all built by TSMC on the 7nm node, and feature AMD’s new RDNA2 GPU architecture, which is being used in the new Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5.
  • This backbone may serve hundreds of millions of consoles over the next few years, along with all the next GPUs and APUs from AMD. It’s make or break stuff.
  • AMD’s calling the first RDNA2 GPU the Navi 21, or “Big Navi”, and these aim directly at Nvidia’s just released GeForce RTX 30-series, with the RTX 3090, 3080, and 3070 respectively.
  • (The RTX 3090 release was the one that sent gamers mad, and caused pre-order site crashes and scalping and various kerfuffles, and you still can’t buy a 30-series now at regular prices; they just don’t exist.)
  • AMD has promised that won’t happen, and is releasing the RX 6800 and RX 6800 XT on November 18th, and the top-spec 6900 XT in more limited quantities on Dec. 8th.
  • As for pricing, the RX 6800 starts at $579, RX 6800 XT for $649, and the 6900 XT goes for $999, which is AMD putting on a nice premium for those who want to pay up.
  • We didn’t see deep technical information from AMD but the specs were published and show 26.8B transistors housing up to 80 CUs (compute units), with 16GB of GDDR6. And there’s ‘Infinity Cache’ which adds power and more than double the bandwidth.
  • Those CUs are 30% more power-efficient and clocked 30% faster over the previous generation, thanks to the RDNA2 architecture.
  • As a comparison, the PS5 will use 36 CUs at higher frequencies, the Xbox Series X 52 CUs at lower frequencies, and the Series S 20 CUs at lower freqs again, and by no means is that the end story of the computing power, but just as an example of total console value vs a single GPU on sale here for PC builders.

What it means:

  • It looks like AMD is trading blows with Nvidia, which is big time.
  • As Gizmodo put it: Hot damn, AMD did it, “This may very well be the generation of AMD hardware that finally puts it neck-and-neck with its competitors, not just slightly behind in a close second.”
  • It means buying an AMD GPU is a real option, rather than just assuming the best is with Nvidia as it has been for years.
  • Crucially, AMD didn’t touch on its ray tracing performance, and still AMD has no answer to CUDA for developers and those wanting raw compute power.
  • So, there are plenty of unknowns as we wait for reviews and Nvidia has more in its bag so to speak.
  • And for most people, unless you’re running a gaming setup at Ultra settings and have a high-end display, most casual to regular-ish gamers with a 1080p monitor and 60Hz refresh rate and a random HDMI cable aren’t going to need one of these beasts.
  • But it’s fun to look at, and it’s great to see AMD throwing down against Nvidia here, and against Intel in CPUs.
  • We await reviews and benchmarks.
  • Speaking of, Ars Technica has a nice look at the Nvidia RTX 3070, released just a day before AMD threw down with the RX 6000 series.

2. Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones are even cheaper than Prime Day: save $72! (Android Authority).


3. Wacky Samsung design details a dual-folding phone with sliding keyboard (Android Authority).


4. Google Play Store now lets you quickly compare apps (Android Authority).


5. LG Wing review: An incredible first try, but a first try nonetheless (Android Authority).


6. Huawei might be in for some relief around its smartphone business. The FT reports that the US has started allowing chip companies to supply components for smartphones, but they must not be used for the company’s 5G business (Android Authority).


7. So, a YouTuber published an iPhone 12 Mini hands-on but later deleted it. Maybe it was all a mistake? In any case, screenshots were grabbed (9to5Mac).


8. It seems hackers have found a way to bypass the Facebook Login required for an Oculus Quest 2 (Ready Hacker One).


9. The Mandalorian season 2 drops tomorrow! (Android Authority).


10. People are mad about the new Gmail/Calendar/Docs logos. As always, we hate new things, and then forget about it, but not entirely sure the new Cal and Docs logos work? (r/crappydesign).


11. Microsoft has leaned into memes about the Xbox Series X looking like a fridge, by building an Xbox fridge, and giving it to Snoop Dog for his birthday (xbox.com)


12. How a tiny bit of lacquer grounded new Falcon 9 rockets for a month (Ars Technica).


13. NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is in the midst of tucking away precious asteroid samples for safekeeping (Space), latest update from NASA shows the samples being stowed (nasa.gov).


14. “The last YouTube video you’ve watched gets sent to all your contacts. What are they about to watch?” (r/askreddit).


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