Update: AMD Radeon GM and CVP, Scott Herkelman, has announced on Twitter than AMD will continue to sell RX 6000-series reference graphics cards, such as the RX 6900 XT pictured above, indefinitely.
The company had previously said (as recently as today) that the design would no longer be sold from early 2021, yet has since U-turned on its decision and will continue with the design by popular demand. That's likely a good move for consumers, too, who can now be safe in the knowledge that MSRP reference cards will be available in the future, even if they are so far unavailable to purchase due to low availability at launch.
Here's the tweet from Scott Herkelman, and we've reached out to AMD to double-check this represents the company's decision on the matter:
We've just officially extended the reference design builds indefinitely due to popular demand. Thanks for the feedback.December 9, 2020
Original story: In a not all that surprising move, AMD has confirmed it will cease to produce reference RX 6000-series graphics card designs from early next year. Following rumours saying much of the same, and even a tweet by Scott Herkelman, AMD has confirmed to PC Gamer that it will be ending production of the triple-fan 'Big Navi' cooler from early 2021.
This is fairly usual behaviour from team red, as its reference designs are nearly always gone a short while after release. Sometimes a few key partners keep the design going a little longer, but they'd all rather upsell you a shiny new high-end model instead.
Perhaps this development is now newsworthy due to the new triple-fan cooler design across the RX 6000-series actually being pretty great, especially at MSRP. It never felt like much of an issue previously since previous blower coolers left a little to be desired in the thermal department, and the dented RX 5700 XT wasn't much of a fan favourite.
I will defend it to the grave, however. Love that shroud's look—you just had to see it in person to appreciate it, which granted few did considering it was not often available post-launch.
Third-party designs are beginning to be announced for the RX 6000-series, which is made up of the AMD RX 6800, RX 6800 XT, and RX 6900 XT. However, with availability for the entire Radeon RDNA 2 lineup looking slim, we've not had a chance to actually take a look at any for ourselves.
ASUS is the first to announce such a design for the RX 6900 XT, which launched only yesterday, and ASRock isn't far behind with its own custom robed GPU. We don't suspect we'll see either of these designs to be available in the wild for some time, however.
Yet soon these will be the only designs available to purchase—those from AMD's many partners, I mean. That might make the original shroud something of a rarity considering its limited availability, but I don't think that should be any reason to go out and purchase the reference design above MSRP. Best wait until prices regain some semblance of normality, and we suspect a few third-party designs to stick to the original MSRP throughout the stack, at least.