In a conversation with an AMD employee, Polish website PCLab claim to have scored several vital details regarding AMD’s much anticipated Radeon HD 6000 family. Most importantly, AMD is planning to release entry level / mainstream cards first, with the performance / enthusiast cards coming last, which is contrary to the regular trend.

PCLab also mentions that HD 6000 isn’t the minor refresh as heavily rumoured, but features a series of minor improvements and optimizations which add up to make a card that is faster clock-for-clock and also more power efficient. Now that the 40nm TSMC process has sufficiently matured, and AMD has complete grasp of the process, the designers have been able to utilize the die space more efficiently.

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In a conversation with an AMD employee, Polish website PCLab claim to
have scored several vital details regarding AMD’s much anticipated
Radeon HD 6000 family. Most importantly, AMD is planning to release
entry level / mainstream cards first, with the performance / enthusiast
cards coming last, which is contrary to the regular trend. PCLab also
mentions that HD 6000 isn’t the minor refresh as heavily rumoured, but
features a series of minor improvements and optimizations which add up
to make a card that is faster clock-for-clock and also more power
efficient. Now that the 40nm TSMC process has sufficiently matured, and
AMD has complete grasp of the process, the designers have been able to
utilize the die space more efficiently.

Indeed, one of the past rules of GPU design has been to make architectural optimizations only on the same process, for the very same reasons. Intel follows the same rules for its CPU design, with the Tick-Tock strategy. We have had exceptions in recent times, with both HD 5000 and Geforce 400 jumping straight to 40nm from 55nm. However, AMD ensured they had enough information about the 40nm process by trialing the HD 4770. Nvidia, on the other hand, only made entry-level GPUs at 40nm prior to GF100, and the risk of moving a big die, a new architecture on a new process failed in a big way. While we don’t expect HD 6000 to contain the new architecture Northern Islands is expected to debut with 28nm, a decent improvement should be no surprise, despite being manufactured on the same process.

Returning back to the schedule, PCLab claims that AMD will release mainstream and entry-level HD 6000 family products first, though the exact cards are not mentioned. Radeon HD 6800 is planned for early 2011, while AMD wants to release the dual-GPU flagship Radeon HD 6970 by Christmas 2010.

Widespread rumours suggest that the first release is indeed a mainstream card – the Radeon HD 6700 series – on October 13th 2010. However, the schedules of the other HD 6800 and HD 6970 come as a surprise, especially the dual-GPU HD 6970 releasing before the HD 6800 series. Of course, the HD 6970 being a dual-GPU HD 6770 is also a possibility. The other cards in the family – HD 6500/6600/etc., are not mentioned explicitly, though it is implied they might release before the HD 6800 series.

Overall, AMD seem to be very optimistic regarding the HD 6000, and PCLab’s source claims that AMD do not fear Nvidia, and expect the Radeon cards to dominate the DX11 generation.

As always with such reports, you are advised to take all information with a grain of salt, over and above details lost in translation. If AMD does release the HD 6800 series last, in 2011, it will be a bit of a novelty as far as the release schedule of new GPU generations go.

Reference: PCLab