Yesterday I spent two hours listening to the CEOs of rival companies talk trash about each other. It reminded me of my parents right after their divorce. Nvidia was shit talking AMD, and AMD politely responded with just enough bite for you to take notice.
Yesterday, AMD announced a new graphics card, the $700 Radeon VII, based on its second-generation Vega architecture. The GPU is the first one available to consumers based on the 7nm process. Smaller processes tend to be faster and more energy efficient, which means it could theoretically be faster than GPUs with larger processes, like the first generation Vega GPU (14nm) or Nvidia’s RTX 20-series (12nm).
I say “could,” because so far Nvidia’s RTX 20-series has been speedy in our benchmarks. Nvidia cards from the $1,000+ 2080 Ti down to the $350 2060 announced Sunday support ray tracing. This complex technology allows you to trace a point of light from a source to a surface in a digital environment. What it means in practice is video games with hyperrealistic reflections and shadows.
It’s impressive technology, and Nvidia has touted it as the primary reason to upgrade from previous generation GPUs. AMD’s GPUs, notably, do not support it. And at a round table Gizmodo attended with Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang he jokingly dismissed AMD’s Tuesday announcement, claiming the announcement itself was “underwhelming” and that his company’s 2080 would “crush” the Radeon VII in benchmarks. “The performance is lousy,” he said of the rival product.
When asked to comment about these slights, AMD CEO Lisa Su told a collection of reporters, “I would probably suggest he hasn’t seen it.” When pressed about his comments, especially his touting of ray tracing she said, “I’m not gonna get into it tit for tat that’s just not my style.”
But boy was it Huang’s. Over the hour-long conversation, Huang repeatedly joked about his GPU competitor. When someone brought up Intel’s new focus on graphics he joked about how Intel’s graphics team was just AMD’s, and he wasn’t sure what AMD even had (he did go on to express his sincere respect for Intel). Then when asked about Nvidia’s decision to adopt support for Adaptive Sync monitors, a kind of variable refresh technology that quickly updates the image on a monitor to allow for smoother gameplay, “We invented the whole area.”
There are currently far more Adaptive Sync monitors in the market than those using Nvidia’s rival G-Sync, and most of those Adaptive Sync monitors are supported by AMD which brands that support FreeSync.
“The truth is most of the FreeSync monitors do not work,” Huang said. “They don’t even work within AMD’s graphics cards because nobody tested it. And we think that is a terrible idea to let a customer buy something believing the promise of that product and have it not work.”
AMD’s CEO, Lisa Su, denied this allegation and noted the more stringent guidelines of FreeSync 2. She also admitted she was totally fine with Nvidia adopting support. “We believe in open standards,” she said. “We believe in an open ecosystem. That’s been a mantra. So we have no issue with our competitors adopting FreeSync.”
With regards to ray tracing, Su said the technology was too young to be recognizable. “[F]or us it’s, you know, what is the consumer going to see? The consumer doesn’t see a lot of benefit today because the other parts of the ecosystem are not ready. I think by the time we talk more about ray tracing the consumer’s gonna see the benefit.”
That wasn’t the only thing she teased. Stay tuned to Gizmodo for a breakdown of our conversation, which included everything from laptop discussions to what the next gen of gaming consoles could look like.