AMD dismissed reports that its new Radeon RX 7900 XT and XTX (opens in a new tab) graphics cards suffer from a bug that impacts performance. AMD said the new graphics chips’ shader pre-fetch hardware is fully functional as expected, despite rumors that had suggested otherwise.
Bug reports associated with RDNA 3’s shader prefetch hardware appeared when a firmware flag that appeared to disable shader prefetch functionality (opens in a new tab) was discovered.
AMD clarified that the feature in question was a specific experimental feature as opposed to global shader pre-fetch hardware in a statement to Tom’s Hardware (opens in a new tab).
“The code in question controls an experimental feature that was not targeted for inclusion in these products and will not be enabled in this generation of products. It is standard industry practice to include features to allow exploration and tuning for deployment in a future product generation,” AMD told Tom’s Hardware.
It is, of course, absolutely common, if not universal, for a large, complex chip to have hardware defects. Likewise, it is common for certain features to be merged. What exactly is considered a serious bug and what is only a tested feature for full implementation in future hardware is subject to interpretation and misinterpretation by both chipmakers and by industry observers.
Whether this particular feature was really meant to be fully functional this time around or was, as described, merely experimental is something only AMD knows. So what really matters is the overall performance of the new chips. Does RDNA 3 provide a great gaming experience?
Certainly AMD’s new GPUs don’t quite hit their mark. The clock speeds of the 7900 XT and XTX are arguably disappointing for an architecture according to AMD designed for 3 GHz and beyond. More importantly, the performance of the new GPUs is somewhat inconsistent – very impressive in some games, less so in others.
This is one of the reasons we were slightly disappointed with RDNA 3, scoring the XTX at 81%. (opens in a new tab) instead of the 90% more you’d expect from a really great new graphics card. But it’s not even close to a disaster. In fact, the 7900 XT and XTX are very fast graphics cards. They’re just not quite the game changers we were hoping for based on preliminary marketing information from AMD.
Does this make RDNA 3 particularly buggy? Probably not. But, similarly, RDNA 3 probably isn’t quite the GPU architecture AMD originally hoped for, as it can’t compete with Nvidia’s RTX 4090 just yet. (opens in a new tab) boards. “Yet”, however, is the key word. Time will tell how competitive RDNA 3 will be.