Today sees silicon giant AMD officially announce the newest members of the AMD Radeon HD 6000 series graphics card lineup - the AMD Radeon HD 6970 and AMD Radeon HD 6950 enthusiast products.
This release is important for AMD, because for the first time in a very long time (since the HD 2900 which was released back in 2007) we see a massive revamp of the underlying architecture as relates to shaders.
While previous chips had relied on a shader architecture called VLIW5 (Very Long Instruction Word 5), the Radeon HD 6900 series moves onto VLIW4. Does this change boost performance? Well, not really. What VLIW4 offers over VLIW5 is about a 10% die space saving. A smaller die means less power drawn by the GPU, which means less cooling, which means greater performance per Watt.
Note: For more details on this change, here's a great post over on SemiAccurate.com which covers the changes.
So, what else is new with the Radeon HD 6900 series?
New AMD PowerTune technology: Designed with intelligent power tuning features, including the introduction of enhanced power containment, the AMD Radeon HD 6900 series automatically adjusts GPU power draw by dynamically controlling clocks speeds, allowing gamers advanced performance inside of the power envelope they specify.
The time to upgrade is now: Gamers looking to move to a DirectX 11-capable GPU will find there has never been a better time to upgrade, with the AMD Radeon HD 6970 offering up to 2.5 times the gaming performance of 2008’s similarly priced high-end graphics solution.
Intelligent tessellation: The AMD Radeon HD 6900 series of graphics cards features dual 8th generation tessellation units, delivering up to 2.9x tessellation performance compared to ATI Radeon HD 5870 graphics.
Increased memory for higher image quality: With 2GB of video memory serving as the new standard for graphics card frame buffers, gamers can enjoy superior quality graphics without needing to increase the memory footprint, even at extreme resolutions.
The Ultimate Visual Experience: As AMD’s most advanced DirectX 11-capable GPU, AMD Radeon HD 6900 series graphics offer a single high-performance solution for a realistic visual experience. DirectX 11 has quickly become the new standard for PC games and the majority of game developers chose to develop their DirectX 11 games on AMD Radeon graphics cards. Beyond DirectX 11 games, the AMD Radeon HD 6900 series also enables an exceptional gameplay experience in DirectX 9, DirectX 10, DirectX 10.1 and OpenGL titles in single card or multi-card AMD CrossFireX configurations.
Users can also benefit from the accelerated parallel processing:
AMD Accelerated Parallel Processing (APP) technology lets you do more, faster: Enthusiasts will enjoy improved performance and new features in top media, entertainment and productivity applications with AMD APP technology.
Enhanced video quality features: AMD Radeon HD 6900 series graphics cards feature Unified Video Decoder 3 (UVD3), a dedicated video playback accelerator that helps users get the most out of HD video, online video and Blu-ray 3D, while enjoying a range of video quality improvements such as advanced post-processing and scaling, dynamic contrast enhancement, color correction and more.
Extensive support of industry standards: AMD Radeon HD 6900 series graphics cards fully support DirectCompute and OpenCL, ensuring broad application support today and tomorrow.
"AMD Radeon HD 6900 series graphics feature AMD’s second-generation, DirectX 11-capable architecture, new image quality improvements and up to 2GB of graphics frame buffer, making it an intelligent choice for gamers and enthusiasts," said Matt Skynner, corporate vice president and general manager, GPU Division, AMD. "Delivering DirectX 11 performance with intelligent tessellation, image quality improvements with new anti-aliasing modes and even intelligent power consumption with AMD PowerTune technology, the AMD Radeon HD 6900 series graphics cards make an excellent gift this holiday season."
Graphics cards in the AMD Radeon HD 6900 series are available immediately from retailers worldwide, with select models starting at $299.