GPU “Sienna Cichild”, Linux driver update hints “Big Navi” on RDNA 2 architecture

Could it be an RDNA 2 graphics card? A New Linux driver provides support for the “Sienna Cichild” GPU. According to media reports, AMD has released over 200 Linux updates to support an unprecedented GPU codenamed Sienna Cichild, which may be the rumored Big Navi graphics card.

In this update, Alex Deucher from AMD, who is responsible for open source and driver-related work, said:

“Siena Cichild is a GPU from AMD and this update includes support for power management, display, kfd, gfx, interrupts and multimedia.”

This stack of updates shows that this Sienna Cichild is actually a GPU with a Navi architecture, offering both VCN 3.0 video decoding and DCN 3.0 compatibility, both of which get stuck on current Navi graphics cards only at the 2.0 stage. It is, therefore, reasonable to assume that VCN 3.0 and DCN 3.0 will be used on the next generation of RDNA graphics cards.

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GPU “Sienna Cichild”, Linux driver update hints “Big Navi” on RDNA 2 architecture

It is normal to use a brand new code name for unlisted graphics cards in open-source Linux drivers before release so that the true code name of the card is not leaked, and this is the first time Sienna Cichild appears in public, allegedly to cover up the true code name of the GPU.

Phoronix also noted that this Sienna Cichild will not be implemented until the Linux 5.9 merge window is released in August and then a stable release in October. This date coincides with rumors that AMD will announce a new graphics card in September. So even if the Sienna Cichild is not a Big Navi card, it will probably be built on the RDNA-2 architecture.

There is a lot of speculation about the RDNA-2 graphics card, but there is no real material. However, it is believed that AMD will release more upstream drivers like this in the coming months, and then there may be more reasonable and realistic speculation.

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A total of 207 patches have been added to the AMD Linux driver. Although there is not much information to dissect in the patch, Komachi (via Videocardz) offers his understanding of why this GPU might actually be a big Navi GPU. Presumably, the AMD Navi 21 is the Big Navi GPU that will support AMD’s Radeon RX audiophile series later this year. The Linux 5.9 fusion window is expected to open in August, with a steady start around Q4 2020.

The AMD RDNA 2 based Radeon RX Navi 2x graphics card family with Radeon RX Navi has also been touted to disrupt the 4K gaming market, much as Ryzen has disrupted the entire CPU landscape.

AMD announced that it’s RDNA 2 GPU will provide a similar performance boost over first-generation RDNA GPUs (e.g., delivery of Zen 2 over Zen 1). The first series of RDNA GPUs delivered a dramatic 50% improvement in performance per watt over the GCN architecture, and RDNA 2 GPUs are expected to deliver the same effect on RDNA 1 with a further 50% improvement in performance per watt.

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