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Advanced Micro Devices has unveiled a new graphics card designed for mainstream market. The novelty is based on the code-named Barts LE chip, which is a cut-down flavour of the Radeon HD 6800-series graphics processing unit (GPU). AMD claims that its Radeon HD 6790 delivers up to 30% higher performance compared to Nvidia Corp.'s competing GeForce GTX 550 Ti.

AMD Radeon HD 6790 has 800 stream processors, 40 texture units, 16 render back ends as well as 256-bit GDDR5 memory controller. AMD recommends its partners to clock the chip at 840MHz and 1GB of memory at 4.2GHz, but many of actual graphics cards suppliers will introduce HD 6790 graphics cards with increased clock-speeds to differentiate themselves from competitors.

The novelty fully supports DirectX 11, OpenCL 1.1 and other modern features, including hardware-accelerated playback of all high-definition video formats.

The novelty has 1.34 TFLOPS of compute power, which is in line with ATI Radeon HD 5770 graphics card launched over 1.5 years ago. AMD hopes that 256-bit memory bus and relatively high clock-speed potential will make the graphics board competitive against Nvidia GeForce GTX 550 Ti, which costs $149 and has 192-bit memory bus. According to AMD, the novelty has up to 30% higher performance compared to the rival. On the other hand, the Radeon HD 6790 consumes up to 150W, which is pretty high.

The Barts LE chip, which powers the Radeon HD 6790, is slightly more expensive to manufacture than Nvidia's GF116 (GeForce 550 Ti) as it is slightly larger 255mm2 versus 238mm2 and also has wider memory bus. However, the difference should not be too high and therefore AMD and Nvidia will be able to compete against each other at the same price-points.

The official price of the Radeon HD 6790 is $149, but it will likely drop shortly as a number of manufacturers already sell more powerful Radeon HD 6850 starting from $159.

Tags: AMD, ATI, Radeon, Barts, 40nm

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