O ATI, ATI, wherefore art thou ATI?
A cheap Shakespearean knock-off reference doesn’t really do justice to the way AMD has positioned itself currently with the pending Radeon 6000 series release along with its line of “Llano” APUs… But then, I’m not really much of a writer, and this ain’t no renaissance. AMD has closed the book on its successful history with ATI branding by recently folding ATI into the AMD name as one in the same. In doing so, the dramatic timing and importance of this shift is AMD making a statement that should not go discounted. They are saying AMD is bold. AMD is confident. AMD is ready to ring in a new era, changing the landscape upon which the game is played.
AMD Radeon 6000 Series and Llano…
So wait, AMD is in the landscaping business?
You could say that, but I’d liken them more to farmers cultivating the earth from which they extract their sustenance. Looking ahead from the information I’ve been privy to at a recent AMD-hosted press event in LA, in my perspective there won’t be earth shattering results initially, but the meaning behind the signposts AMD has erected around their plot of land point towards a more interesting future. Bottom line? It remains to be seen how the game changes as AMD executes and delivers additional products to market in the coming months. Only time will tell for sure as actual hardware gets out into legitimate channels and ends up in the hands of reliable testers and benchmarkers. If you’ve been looking around at all on the 6000 series you’ll find rumors, fabrications, and lies scattered everywhere across hardware sites and communities as speculation abounds. I’m not here to perpetuate that so I’m sticking to what we can infer directly.
So what about those signposts you mentioned?
Right now we can touch upon those signposts and in the near future we’ll have a lot more to say about things. AMD is dropping the ATI label at the same time as its releasing the successor to its hugely successful ATI 5000 series cards and its first Llano Fusion APUs (quad-core, 32nm, based off Phenom II architecture, DX11 GPU on die, low power draw). While letting the Radeon 6000 series out of the barn, the first AMD processors with integrated graphics on die and DX11 support are also being tossed into the hen house to chase around the low power draw and low budget chickens. Ya, I called them chickens! We’re overclockers here so while “low power draw” and “low budget” has its audience, this isn’t it. But there’s a large market out there and its growing. It’s clear AMD is looking to leverage the success of their Radeon line and capitalize upon the timing of Fusion being ready for market to bring “both sides of the house together” in more ways than one. ATI+AMD -> AMD. GPU+CPU -> APU.
The moral of this “Old MacDonald” story?
AMD is paving the way along their product lines to make the GPU a base component of any build, and raise consumer and developer expectations regarding the sort of graphical computing power they can depend upon from their platforms. So while Llano may not find much relevance in our core overclocking focus, the strategic impact AMD is launching is a calculated tactic to raise the graphics bar – every Fusion APU is set to bring unprecedented baseline DX11 performance at a price point and power profile that any consumer system can accommodate, and thats a variable that hasn’t been present on AMD platforms until now.
So if a Fusion APU can bring you that, what can a discrete Radeon GPU bring to the table? Perfect, AMD hoped you would ask! AMD is emphasizing that its focused strongly on gamers and GPU compute operations built on top of adherence to open standards – they believe openness stands to hit the ripest, broadest market while encouraging stronger developer support and adoption. AMD is emphasizing that Fusion isn’t intended to supplant discrete GPUs, but maybe its just going to wet the market’s whistle so to speak and they expect it to be a great solution in typical casual workloads, and surprising in more demanding loads also. Still, when you need more performance, more compute power, higher framerates, and more good old fashioned “oomph” – the discrete GPUs in their 6000 series will be there to deliver with products at a price point thats strong in the discrete market “sweet spot”, as well as products at performance levels that make enthusiasts like us pony up the big bones.
Pictures and Parting Thoughts
While that sets the outlook for what AMD is sowing in its fields, we’ll have to wait just a touch longer to dig deeper upon solid ground examining the details regarding actual hardware characteristics and performance numbers. What could possibly hold you over until then? Hopefully some official photos from AMD will do the trick, because that’s all we got for now! AMD Radeon HD 6850 on the left; AMD Radeon HD 6870 on the right.
Ever found yourself stuck in an obtuse barnyard metaphor you thought might never end? Happened to me once. But don’t get it twisted, these new AMD products are certainly no cow dung and we’ll get back to you on solid, reliable performance numbers as soon as they are ready!