AMD wants to set the record straight on its future GPU strategy

Subject: Graphics Cards | February 15, 2013 - 01:50 PM |
Tagged: southern islands, Solar System, Sea Islands, radeon, oland, mars, holycrapiamtotallyconfused, amd

Remember that story we posted last week and then discussed on the podcast about AMD not releasing any new GPUs in 2013?  Today we had a call with AMD that attempted to answer some questions, clear up some confusion and give us some insight to the company's direction.  I say 'attempted' because after a 53 minute discussion, we have some answers, but we also have some interesting questions that remain.

First, some definitions.  If you have heard about code names like "Solar System" and "Sea Islands" you might not know what they refer to.  Sea Islands is a new line that will fall into the 8000-series of products and will be a refresh, slightly different architecture based heavily on the Southern Islands parts you've come to love in the Radeon HD 7000 parts.  Solar System is the name AMD has given to the sub-category of Sea Islands directly related to mobile products, the 8000M. 

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The slide that started this confusion - and our questions.

What might make things even more confusing is that there are some 8000-series parts that are already shipping in OEM desktops and notebooks that use verbatim HD 7000 GPU specs.  So what you have is a combination series with Radeon HD 8000 that is made up of some rebrands and at least a couple of "new" chips thus far.  Those two new GPUs, Mars and Oland (Radeon HD 8650 and HD 8670) depending on the mobile or desktop target, are already out and you can find them if you look hard.  They are NOT available in the channel or for DIY PC users. 

Our readers might be disappointed to learn that Sea Islands is heavily focused on the notebook and mobile markets though AMD did indicate that there some good things coming for the channel users in the future in 2013. 

We also learned that the HD 7900-series will remain the company's high end parts through the end of 2013 but AMD said that there are new SKUs set to be released in this series sometime this year as well.  Will that be the elusive HD 7990 dual-GPU product or maybe just something in the mainstream 7800 segments?  They wouldn't tell us but we are definitely hoping for higher performance parts.  You might also expect to see these new 7000-series parts to use Sea Islands silicon...

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The Radeon HD 7970 looks like it will stay a focus for AMD throughout 2013.

Many readers might be wondering why AMD is breaking its standard cadence of near-yearly GPU releases.  The answer came from AMD's Roy Taylor, VP of Channel Sales, who said that "7000 series parts are continuing to ramp UP, sales are increasing" so it is premature for AMD, as a company intending to make money, to introduce a new series or architecture. 

In fact Roy was very emphatic about relieving us of potential ambiguity. 

We have products, we have a road map.  We are not announcing them now because we want to reposition the ones we have now.  We are not sitting still, we do not lack resources, we do not lack imagination.

So what can you expect for the future?  Sea Islands chips will continue to be released and eventually in the desktop, channel market and some of them will be branded as 7000-series parts and some of them will be branded as 8000-series parts.  They wouldn't give us information on whether or not you'll see BIGGER chips (which we would assume would be faster) than the current HD 7900 cards or if they would all be in the mainstream segment. 

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AMD thinks its partnerships with key games like Crysis 3 will help keep momentum in 2013.

The residual message from this call was that AMD wants everyone to know that they have the best products on the market today and to maintain that momentum, AMD will enhance drivers, establish big partnerships with gaming companies and developers and release SOME new GPUs. 

AMD was cagey again when asked about the possibility of a new architecture by the end of 2013 but based on the reactions of AMD reps I tend to believe we will see it, though probably very very close to the end of that time.  (Update: AMD did in fact say that an entire new product stack would be releaed by the end of 2013.)

That all clear now?


February 15, 2013 | 03:53 PM - Posted by Shambles (not verified)

So re-badging old parts and minor refreshes on old tech for the mobile market.

Phew! I was almost worried for a moment there.

February 15, 2013 | 04:22 PM - Posted by derFunkenstein (not verified)

So this is like the 6000 series, sort of. Some stuff has already been re-branded like what happened going from 5750 and 5770 to 6750 and 6770. And there will eventually be new silicon.

Still, sounds like the phone call itself was tough to digest. Everything is the same! Except where it's not! And there's new stuff! And old stuff renamed to new stuff!

February 15, 2013 | 05:31 PM - Posted by Jumangi (not verified)

Not surprising since they don't have access to anything better than 28nm for awhile. Rather see them just keep selling the 7000 than try and pass off a pseudo new line like they did with the 6000 series.

February 15, 2013 | 09:01 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I wonder why they aren't quickly releasing new parts like they did with the 5000 to 6000 series? They were on the same transistor size. Maybe it has to do with them focusing on the consoles?

February 16, 2013 | 12:29 AM - Posted by asmodyus (not verified)

Did not read the part were they said they are a company who making money so there no reason to release new architecture if there current product is making money. Simple Both AMD and Nvidia or holding back on innovation and trying to bleed the market as long as they can before they release new products.

February 18, 2013 | 01:40 PM - Posted by Lord Binky (not verified)

Yeah, this is where competition drives new goods, as long as either Nvidia or AMD do not feel like they will be losing gross profits because of the other, there's no reason for them to release expensive upgrades.

February 19, 2013 | 01:27 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

but I doubt both sides are content with staying still.

February 16, 2013 | 12:37 AM - Posted by Sublym3 (not verified)

I suppose this is what happens when it takes a company a year to make proper drivers for its flag ship GPU. Have they re-written the memory section of the driver yet?

Even if they are minor refreshes or speed bumps etc, just give them 8xxx series name to ease confusion.

I would rather have the 8970 be a rebranded 7970 GHz edition+ than have the 7970GHz edition be the top of the line and have the midrange called 8750 or whatever.

February 16, 2013 | 10:06 PM - Posted by renz (not verified)

this is off topic but i wonder how will nvidia respond to this. will nvidia wait for amd to release first just like before or will they introduce new series in late Q1 as they did last year?

February 18, 2013 | 08:21 AM - Posted by Irishgamer01

Bull (you know what)
AMD sacked half the staff
The other half are working on the console chips.
(I assume these have already been finalized as console release isn't too far away)
So work may have only just be starting.

Enough said

February 18, 2013 | 08:35 AM - Posted by MarkT (not verified)

AMD is lucky to not be liquidated at this point. They know what Nvidia is planning by clarifying all of this. They are taking the most effecient way forward for the company, get the console contacts and site on their arse.

February 18, 2013 | 08:36 AM - Posted by MarkT (not verified)


February 18, 2013 | 11:46 PM - Posted by ezjohny

Lets hope AMD focuses on bringing out the video games potential with advanced hardware because I'm ready for the "Next Generation" in gameplay!!!

P.S I want AMD's hardware inside the "Next Generation" consoles to run the Samaritan Demo!!!

February 21, 2013 | 06:12 PM - Posted by Speedster288

All I can say is that I'm glad AMD was able to get the console contracts, cause it seems to me the only thing they have going for them lately...

February 23, 2013 | 12:32 AM - Posted by Goose_67a

The two companies will force each other to innovate. If AMD slows down I'm pretty sure Nvidia will follow suit. Anyone ever wonder why neither company ever releases a card that completely demolishes the other company? They always seem to be in a developmental lockstep with each other. The PS4 hardware deal shows who has the nextgen muscle.

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