At present ATI, graphics business unit of Advanced Micro Devices, has the fastest single-chip and dual-chip graphics sub-systems available, but Nvidia’s forthcoming code-named GF100 chip has chances of stealing performance crown from ATI’s Radeon HD 5870/5970 boards thanks to larger die size and emerging half a year later. Nevertheless, ATI hopes to maintain performance lead throughout 2010 by introducing new products.
“I suspect that through 2010 it is possible there will be moments where we don't have the fastest graphics card, but I expect that for the majority of 2010 we’ll have the fastest card you can buy. I have good reason for believing that, but I can't talk about unannounced products or any of the stuff we're doing to secure that,” said Richard Huddy, AMD’s worldwide developer relations manager, in an interview with Bit-tech.net web-site.
At present ATI should feel itself pretty comfortably. The code-named Evergreen family of graphics chips – ATI Radeon HD 5000-series – is not only the only DirectX 11-compatible lineup in the world, but the ATI Radeon HD 5870 and 5970 are the highest-performing graphics solutions on the planet. However, this may change when Nvidia launches its code-named Fermi product family sometimes in March 2010 and later during the year.
But ATI is not standing still, the company has two ways of getting even faster products to market: it can redesign existing ATI Radeon HD 5800-/5700-series graphics chips so that to boost clock-speeds tangibly or it can introduce a brand new family of ninth-generation Radeon chips code-named Northern Islands, which is widely believed to feature a new architecture.
Not a lot is known about Northern Islands. Some sources claim that the new chips will be made using 32nm fabrication process, but the others believe that the new chips will be made on 28nm node. There are also reports that Northern Islands will have richer feature-set compared to Evergreen.
According to some other reports, ATI’s next-generation family is code-named Hecatonchires and will feature code-named Cozumel, Ibiza and Kauai chips, which are not exactly northern islands.