AMD's next-gen RDNA 4 Radeon graphics will feature 'brand-new' ray-tracing hardware

AMD is getting serious about ray-tracing performance, RDNA 4's RT hardware for Radeon is said to be 'brand new' and 'completely different.'

2 minutes & 33 seconds read time

There has been a lot of rumor and information surrounding AMD's upcoming RDNA 4 generation of Radeon RX 8000 Series graphics cards. On track for launch later this year (at the earliest), we know that AMD is skipping a flagship high-end model in favor of more affordable and mainstream options that will sit in the GeForce RTX 4070 and Radeon RX 7800 XT price range.

With the top chip being less powerful than the current Radeon RX 7900 XTX flagship, you might not think that RDNA 4 would be all that exciting. Well, following on from confirming that all RDNA 4 GPUs will use the same GDDR 6 memory that Radeon cards have been using for years, insider and known leaker @Kepler_L2 on X/Twitter has teased something pretty exciting for the future of RDNA.

It's all about ray tracing, with Kepler stating that the ray-tracing hardware for next-gen RDNA 4 is "brand new" and not simply a revision or upgrade of the current Ray Accelerators found within each Compute Unit.

AMD's next-gen RDNA 4 Radeon graphics will feature 'brand-new' ray-tracing hardware 02

"RDNA 3 RT was based on RDNA 2 with some improvements. RDNA 4 RT looks completely different," @Kepler_L2 writes. This is exciting stuff for Radeon fans looking to pick up a mid-range RDNA 4 card at some point because it could pave the way for a massive boost to Radeon's ray-tracing performance.

Regarding RDNA 3 versus NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 40 Series Ada Lovelace architecture or even Intel's first-gen Arc Graphics, ray-tracing performance is a step, two, or even three behind the mainstream and mid-range level competition.

With the upcoming PlayStation 5 Pro set to boost its ray-tracing performance compared to the baseline PS5 by 2 to 3X, rumors point to Sony implementing RDNA 4 technology to get there. Now, with @Kepler_L2 saying that RDNA 4 ray-tracing is "completely different," it could become a big selling point for next-gen Radeon.

What this could mean for a potential Radeon RX 8800 XT is that even though rasterized or standard rendering performance is not up to the level of the flagship Radeon RX 7900 XTX - ray-tracing performance could blow it out of the water. And that would be impressive.

It would still need to compete with NVIDIA's upcoming GeForce RTX 50 Series and Intel's next-gen Arc, codenamed Battlemage, both of which are expected to boost ray-tracing performance. Either way, it's great to see AMD getting serious about RT.

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Kosta is a veteran gaming journalist that cut his teeth on well-respected Aussie publications like PC PowerPlay and HYPER back when articles were printed on paper. A lifelong gamer since the 8-bit Nintendo era, it was the CD-ROM-powered 90s that cemented his love for all things games and technology. From point-and-click adventure games to RTS games with full-motion video cut-scenes and FPS titles referred to as Doom clones. Genres he still loves to this day. Kosta is also a musician, releasing dreamy electronic jams under the name Kbit.

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