UPDATE 10/19/10: Catch our latest 6000 series news here, and on the frontpage in the next few days.
In late 2009, ATI launched the 5000-series of graphics card. The series was very successful despite some supply issues. Nvidia had nothing to offer to counter AMD’s graphics departement at the time and took just over six months to roll out its 400-series, with the GTX480 and GTX470 beginning to sell on April 12th. News has now came that ATI has taped out its new products based on the Southern Islands architecture.
Southern Islands has been known to exist for the past three weeks. It is believed to be a hybrid architecture featuring the shaders of the Evergreen architecture, found in the 5000-series, along with the uncore of the next full generation design, dubbed Northern Islands. Website Semiaccurate reports the new design taped out and is now ready for production. As no manufacturer has a new process to offer, there is no doubt now that the new graphics processing units will be manufactured on 40nm process, the same as the 5000-series of cards. Production is expected to start at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company within the next few weeks.
The news come at a very bad time for Nvidia and could spell disaster for the green team. Southern Islands tape out arrives just a few weeks later in the year than what Evergreen did last year. If it executes like it did with the 5000-series, ATI is looking at a possible release of a full new generation of products before Nvidia rolls out their current one, putting the green guys a full cycle behind and effectively out of the game. 6000-series cards can be expected in Q4 2010.