The rumour mill is heating up regarding potential AMD Radeon RX 600 series of graphics cards that could be due to launch in October. This particular leak comes via an AMDGPU Linux kernel patch, revealing a new Polaris graphics card ID within the Linux driver. Codenamed ‘0x6FDF’, references to this Polaris part haven’t been spotted in any driver release before. Connect the dots and bingo, an unannounced Polaris-powered AMD GPU.
It’s certainly not the first time that news of an impending graphics card launch has been leaked by a Linux driver update. AMD’s Vega launch in 2017 suffered the same fate.
AMD’s current crop of Radeon RX 500 series GPUs were, themselves, a 2017 refresh of the original Polaris-powered Radeon RX 400 series from 2016, so it would make a great deal of sense for AMD to get some new cards onto store shelves in 2018. If nothing else, it keeps AMD's lineup looking fresh.
While the Radeon RX 500 series uses the exact same 14nm microarchitecture and instruction set as the RX 400 series though, the Radeon RX 600 series is purported to be using a smaller 12nm fabrication process.
The chip itself is purported to be dubbed the Polaris 30, following on from the Polaris 20 and Polaris 10. Fundamentally, the Polaris 30 should be quite similar to Polaris 20. It is a more power efficient die shrink but it’s a comparatively small move from 14nm to 12nm. We’d expect slightly higher clock speeds out of the box but that’s about it.
The likelihood is that AMD has been hedging its bets somewhat to determine whether a Radeon RX 600 series was even worth it. However, with Nvidia seemingly dropping the ball with its GeForce RTX 20 Series launch, AMD has found itself with an opportunity to gain a greater stranglehold on the mid and low-end of the graphics card market.
Assuming the AMD Radeon RX 600 series does shift to 12nm, we can expect performance gains of between 10-15% over the Radeon RX 500 GPUs. In the case of the Radeon RX 680, this would be enough to ensure AMD’s graphics card is faster than the GeForce GTX 1060 6GB in just about every gaming benchmark.
This is all a heck of a lot of conjecture based upon a single leaked ID from a driver release though, so we’ll have to take a wait and see approach on this one.