Product: AMD Radeon HD 6870 & HD 6850 1GB Video Cards
Company: AMD
Authour: James Prior
Editor: Charles Oliver
Date: October 21st, 2010
AMD Radeon 6870 & 6850 Launch Review

AMD Radeon Graphics
AMD Radeon Graphics
Today AMD introduces a controversial new part, the AMD Radeon HD 6800 series. The highly anticipated two new graphics cards are under the microscope before they even launched thanks to a high-strung rumor mill. Similarly to the AMD ATI Radeon HD 5000 series, the GPU cores are codenamed in theme, rather than by number; this is not RV940, RV970 or R900; this is Northern Islands - this is Barts.


Notice the lack of 'ATI' - these are the first graphics parts produced by AMD since the acquisition of ATI four years ago. AMD pre-announced the transition recently, and you can read more about it here. That's part of the controversy, but not all of it. Incidentally, these are also the first AMD VISION Black branded cards.

AMD Radeon HD 6870
AMD Radeon HD 6870

AMD Radeon HD 6850
AMD Radeon HD 6850

Originally, AMD planned to introduce their second generation DirectX 11 parts using TSMC's 32nm fabrication process. The jump from 55nm to 40nm was a doozy and, while AMD managed to solve some of the problems the new process and tools introduced, not everyone was so lucky. Within AMD, compromises caused Evergreen's flagship Cypress part (aka AMD ATI Radeon HD 5800 series) to be bigger, more power hungry, and more expensive than perhaps initially desired. This became a non-issue as AMD were able to sell as many parts as they could produce, executing a strategy that introduced 11 graphics cards to market in 4 months. A sweet spot to be in, when your highest margin parts go up in price after launch, and stay there until your own replacement parts are imminent.

Herein lies the rub - the HD 5800 series didn't target the performance sweet spot In terms of pricing. Performance of the HD 5800 series is excellent, but the introductory prices were disappointing for those hoping for the high performance part to be similarly priced to the HD 3800 and HD 4800 original MSRPs - the $200 - $250 sweet spot. Now, we have a HD 6800 series back in that price point - but generating controversy again, as it's not the peak of the performance stack; the HD 5800 series will be replaced by two product lines. Here's a brief overview of the product specifications:

AMD Radeon HD 6800 Specifications

AMD Radeon HD 6800
AMD Radeon HD 6800

AMD
AMD
AMD begins the introduction of its next-generation graphics boards not with the pinnacle, but at the most popular price points for enthusiast gamers. Join us for our first article about the HD 6800 series, the technology underneath and its performance against the outgoing ATI Radeon HD 5850, and the GeForce GTX 460 1GB. 



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