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ATI, graphics product group of Advanced Micro Devices, is currently working hard to release its new performance-mainstream graphics chip code-named RV670 to finally return to the arena of high-performance enthusiast-class graphics solutions. But the return may be marked not only with launch of ATI CrossFireX technology, but a rather radical model numbering scheme change for the whole lineup.

Graphics cards based on ATI RV670 graphics processing units (GPUs) may be marketed under ATI Radeon HD 3800 model name, instead of projected ATI Radeon HD 2950 model name, according to a screenshot from GeCube’s web-site published by Fudzilla online news resource. If the information is correct, then Advanced Micro Devices will have to explain why a product with a totally different model number – HD 3800 – demonstrates performance on par with the HD 2900.

Based on what is known about the code-named RV670 product, the new GPU features DirectX 10.1, PCI Express 2.0, DisplayPort and double-precision floating point calculations. While the list of improvements compared to the code-named R600 seems significant on paper, end-users getting the new graphics cards will hardly the aforementioned capabilities really useful right now. Moreover, the RV670 is projected to deliver “R600 performance, better thermal & power”, according to AMD’s own documents.

In the most recent years it has become a tradition that the new flagship product with a slight performance improvement gets a distinctive, but not a radical, name or model change (e.g., ATI Radeon X1800 and ATI Radeon X1900 or Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTX and Nvidia GeForce 8800 Ultra), whereas a new flagship GPU with a different architecture, massive performance improvement and breakthrough features got a fundamentally new name (e.g., ATI Radeon X1800->X1900->X1950 and ATI Radeon HD 2900 do not have a lot in common). Given that the RV670 will hardly provide performance two times higher than that of R600, it will be hard to justify the family name change for AMD.

In fact, ATI did rename Radeon 9600-series into X300-/X600-series when it added PCI Express bus to the former back in 2004. However, the company then also launched Radeon X800, a product that offered massive performance improvements compared to the Radeon 9800-series. This time even the flagship of the new family is not expected to deliver performance any higher than the currently available products, whereas the less speedy GPUs will hardly have any advantages over the ATI Radeon HD 2000 predecessors at all too.

AMD did not comment on the news-story.

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