With CES coming up at the start of the next year, AMD has lifted embargo on the news about their next generation of their graphics chips. Things don’t go as usual this time, however – first chips to be released are not the high-end desktop parts, but mobile GPUs for laptops – 8500M, 8600M, 8700M, 8800M. Codenamed “Solar System”, new chips use GCN 2.0 (Graphics Core Next 2.0) architecture, with no difference from first GCN (at least in mobile chips), just mentioning new generations of cards. While in previous generation HD7600M and lower were made on 40nm process, now 28nm process is used for all mobile parts, allowing for lower power consumption.
These are first chips based on GCN architecture available for laptops, which brings some additional improvements to power consumption other than die shrink. GCN allows for GPU to be utilised partially on tasks that don’t require full performance, and Zero Core technology allows dedicated GPU shut down completely when integrate graphics in CPU are enough for the job. There is a small downside when it comes to peak performance of laptops with HD8000M parts for time being – hybrid CrossFireX mode only works when GPU and APU share the same graphics architecture. Unfortunately, it looks like first Kaveri APUs from AMD using GCN may not come in 2013, thus leaving laptops of next year without this feature.
There is little to report on desktop parts for now. AMD planned to release Radeon HD8000 series (codename “Sea Islands”) for desktop late this year, but reorganisation due to bad Q3 2012 financial performance pushed their launch to Q2 2013. Knowing that Nvidia’s GK110 is already present in many working Tesla K20 compute cards, we may expect GTX700 series to launch at similar time, or slightly before HD8000.