What appears to be a reference to AMD’s upcoming Navi GPU has found its way into AMD’s latest Linux Radeon graphics card drivers. A Linux driver set is included for Radeon GPUs, including a string related to a “gfx10” chip that’s “SUPER_SECRET”. I don’t know about you but Super Secret sounds like the sort of thing I’d write on something that’s not secret at all, it’s pretty much just an open invitation to snoop around.
Anyway, the full surreptitiously tongue-in-cheek string of text is as follows: new_chip.gfx10.mmSUPER_SECRET.enable [0: 0]
That’s fairly innocuous on its own, but it gains additional meaning when we take into account that the AMD Vega GPU was codenamed “GFX9”. It seems logical to assume, therefore, that this is driver instructions for AMD’s next generation Navi graphics processor.
It probably comes as little surprise to find out AMD’s probably already messing around with the silicon for its next-gen chips then. Whether that takes the form of Vega 20 or Navi remains a matter of some debate, and it’s likely going to come down to when (or whether) mass fabrication of 7nm chips can begin in 2018. Should 7nm production be pushed back to 2019 (and thus delay Navi), then Vega 20 on the 12nm process seems assured in early 2018.
The next major question is just what form Navi is going to take. There are rumours of AMD going down the multi-chip-module (MCM) route, the same as it did for its Threadripper CPUs. This is effectively the equivalent to gluing several GPUs together to make a single giant GPU. That seems unlikely, yet AMD’s already outstripping the competition in this field when it comes to the CPU side of its business.
Finally, there’s the question of which memory standard Navi will use. Either GDDR6 or HBM3 seems assured, and in the interests of keeping costs down, GDDR6 could well be the likely target.
A sniff of hope for those looking forward to AMD’s next-generation GPUs then, although you’ve probably still got a long wait until Navi will actually be in your hands.