A leak at the end of this past week has revealed that AMD's next generation of ATI graphics, "Southern Islands," should ship this fall. Likely to be called the Radeon HD 6000 series, the first parts will be unveiled in October and ship in November, according to Digitimes' industry contacts. The exact chips making their debut aren't known, but AMD has historically launched one or two high-end single chip cards first.
If true, the launch wouldn't be as aggressive as AMD had first anticipated. Although the chip producer had first expected to use 32 nanometer (nm) manufacturing that would have allowed smaller and more power-efficient chips, its manufacturing partner TSMC has decided to skip directly to 28nm. The delay led AMD to not only decide to make the new hardware using the existing 40nm process but to rebadge it from Northern Islands to Southern Islands. Existing hardware will drop in price to help boost market share before the changeover, the sources said.
AMD's upgrades may come at an important stage, as its frequent rival NVIDIA is believed to be revamping its graphics line with new cores that should be more efficient and either consume less power with similar performance or run faster without a penalty. The new GeForce cores would help flesh out NVIDIA's low-end graphics, which have yet to make the leap to the newest architecture. AMD has so far enjoyed advantages in the mid- and low-range as NVIDIA either hasn't been able to compete or has usually had the more expensive option.
Officials from AMD declined to comment.