ATI Tapes Out 6000-Series Graphics Cards

Image courtesy: AMD Corp.

Image courtesy: AMD Corp.

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.

Source: Semiaccurate

- dostov

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KonaKona's Avatar
SA on the front page? Common guys.
EarthDog's Avatar
If there is one place to get the scoop on ATI, Charlie and SA seem to be it...

Anyhoo, interesting article, looks like the the tide has finally changed. Nvidia needs to get back into the game with a more attractive card (less power, heat, and a little less expensive).

Remember though, ATI was in this same position for a couple of gen's with the HD2900 and the 3870... Nvidia is due for bottoming out and bouncing back.
watchthisspace's Avatar
Would be nice if the competition was intense enough for some nice price drops! But nevertheless this is good news for ATi.
dostov's Avatar
I agree. In the past few years, you could always count on ATI to bring Nvidia's prices down. Right now, ATI has the whole DX11 market and Nvidia has nothing to compete on the price front... so ATI can sell at the price they want. At this pace, the only thing bringing the 5000-series prices down will be the 6000-series launch...

I wouldn't be surprised if 5000-series ends up being the most profitable series of ATI cards in years! Hopefully Nvidia will have something to compete by the end of the year and prices will be more interesting for consumers.

Neural Net's Avatar
Hardly ATI's fault though when you consider the 5870 is as fast as the GTX295, has DX11 and uses a lot less power with a lower price to boot. 3bn transistors on a less than perfect process is just too expensive, even a die shrink isn't going to make that go away, Nvidia's design is just horribly inefficient for games.
evensen007's Avatar
I enjoy the competition. I bounce back between Ati/Nvidia every 2-3 generations of chips. I root for both companies even though I tend to be a little bit more of a fan for one of them.
AngelfireUk83's Avatar
Good read I'm going to be switching over to ATi soon my self because I can get sound through the HDMI interface and not have my crappy headphones for sound. I think I'll hold out for maybe the 6770 if it's going to be named that but 5770 prices may drop to a reasonable spot.

Is keeping an eye on this
rollincoaster's Avatar
Well I guess this gives me a reason to wait and save up. Hopefully though the 5k series will drop a bit in price once the 6k cards come out late this year / early next year and maybe they won't be out of stock so fast...
kayson's Avatar
Anyone have an idea as to when these cards will hit the shelves?
CharlieCS's Avatar
ATI has not even hinted new series, so I would speculate anywhere between 6 and 12 month , it will all mainly relay on competition , which has been lacking.ATi has gained 8% share in discrete graphics in the first quarter, which is huge.

Also I don't anticipate a price drop, but am not an analyst.
col_sanders's Avatar
News has now come that ATI has taped out its new products based on the Southern Islands architecture.

Website Semiaccurate reports the new design is taped out and is now ready for production.

</grammar nazi>

I am very excited for this new generation. I still have yet to adopt a 5000 series card (but i really want to). I kinda wana wait now to see how the 6000 series compares though even if it means waiting.
AngelfireUk83's Avatar
I would wait seriously ATi have been on the game for a few years now while nVidia have just well not released anything as good least it's 1 part of AMD thats doing well. I just ordered a new GPU cooler for my 9600GT as I am getting back into gaming and the stock fan is annoying the hell out of me but I was going to order the 5770 but now I'll wait the 9600GT will crush my games I have as there slightly old but Uk temps are warming up and just bought some new fans for my case.
Niku-Sama's Avatar
hmm if this is the case i am glad i didnt dump big bucks on on a big 5 series card and got the 5770 instead.

of course theres still a huge possibility that these come out and they arent all that great, brisbanes and phenoms any one?
i know a different product but AMD just seems to be a target for new products that dont work up to par
mattspalace's Avatar
My guess is we'll see a 5-series refresh/update in June/July (at best), and won't see the 6-series until October/November
Neural Net's Avatar
The 5000 series refresh could be the 6000 series. It seems unlikely ATI would spend the cash to revise the 5000 series architecture when that is essentially what the 6000 series is supposed to be.

If ATI wants to keep the ball rolling they would have to release the 6000 series by September the latest (as a temporary series as such) and the proper Northern Islands in February/March time. It should think like Intel and compete against itself and not let the competition gain momentum or time to fine tune its offerings.
dostov's Avatar
I have to agree 100% with that statement. There is no time to loose for ATI. They should release new products like tick-tock and effectively kick Nvidia while its down. I have all reasons to believe there won't be a 5000-series refresh and that 6000-series cards will be out in September time. I think ATI will go with pretty much the same release schedule as the 5000-series cards but a year later.

deathman20's Avatar
What ever comes down to it hopefully more info will come out in the follow weeks. This might be the first time in years that I've skipped a generation!
Prunecandy's Avatar
i think it should be soon because te 5850/70 have gone down a good 20$ since last week on the egg
BenF's Avatar
Good news for ATI. I was gonna buy a 5xxx card this summer but I don't need the upgrade so I'll probably end up waiting for the 6xxx cards. Hopefully nvidia comes out with something to help keep the prices down
mrgoodkat's Avatar
I think it has more to do with manufacturing costs.

I dont see the situation as being that bad for Nvidia. They have a new architecture out already, and they will continue to refine it. It is pure speculation, that ATI will be able to match it. Let alone keep temps and power requirements in line with what appears to be their M.O. I mean, that is really the only argument against going 4xx. And I have never found it a sound argument, at that.

Six months ago, ATI's momentum was thought to peak with what was surely a new process, sometime in 2010. That isn't happening.
col_sanders's Avatar
I agree, ATi is on a roll right now and they show no signs of stopping. nVidia is going to have to do something spectacular with their gtx 400 series cards pretty soon or their market share percentage will continue to shrink. I've used and liked their 8,9 and 200 series cards but right now they are kinda playing second fiddle to ATi's hardware in my book.
evensen007's Avatar
My progression in the last 3 years was 8800gts>8800gtx>Radeon4870>Radeon5870. I tend to be brand agnostic even though my company got burned (literally and figuratively) by Nvidia's face melting mobile gpu temperatures that they never fessed up to.

I like the back and forth and tend to view Ati as the underdog. Probably because they are owned by the insufferable Amd group now.
deathman20's Avatar
Hmmm going back as far as I can rememer.....

X800XL > 1800XL > HD1900XT > 8800GT > 2x HD4850's > 285GTX > ??? (Highly probably of ATI)
mrgoodkat's Avatar
That is a brilliant way of preventing me from quoting you evensen007. Welcome to the forum...

Nvidia has a new, very impressive architecture, why is that lost on everyone? Is ATI going to be able to match that, and still keep temps and power requirements low? I mean, that is what is making them champions of the people, even with the markup that hasn't come down...

And it is very significant that ATI was slated to release their new architecture on a new process, which isnt happening. Reading skills...

Come on man. Raving about increased market share due to a new series (which in all reality, is nothing more than a repackaged 4xxx series with DX11 support), while your competition isn't on the same footing in that respect, proves what exactly? I mean, how mny quarters does ATI need to find itself on par with Nvidia on the consumer end, let alone the other markets. Where are the new engines that software developers are creaming in their pants over?

Let's wait to see how Nvidia ultimately packages fermi, down the road. Because that architecture advances gaming. ****, it even helps developers, who if you haven't noticed, develop on Nvidia cards for a reason, it helps them develop games that are just as friendly to ATI cards as Nvidia cards. Sometime soon, the days of ATI hotfixes due to compatibility issues should be dramatically reduced.
col_sanders's Avatar
Right now imo the only thing nvidia has going for its self right now is their awesome CUDA platform. The only reason I would see myself owning a gtx 4 series is for cuda applications, although from reading the Seti@home forums here the 480 cant even do that very well compared to the 2xx series. Its only a matter of time now until OpenCL gains popularity due to its hardware agnostic properties that allow the use of x86 as well as GPU hardware. nVidia is going to have to come down in price to look more attractive to compensate for their heat issues and general level performance with their less expensive ATi counterparts.
Neural Net's Avatar
Right, so the more power hungry, larger, hotter, more expensive and less efficient chip design in every way (in terms cost, size, performance) is somehow the more impressive architecture?

Well you're welcome to pay 100 more for a 5-10% performance gain if you want. ATI has already matched Fermi in every way that counts and consumer spending habits have reflected this for some time now.
evensen007's Avatar
Give me a break dude. I really quoted you that way so you couldn't quote me back? Chalk it up to my poor forum skills, not a conspiracy theory. Yikes. Why does Ati have to match Fermi? The 480 gains 3-6 frames in a couple of games over the 5870. If you find Fermi impressive, you must REALLY be impressed with the 5xxx series, since it came out 7 months ago and goes toe to toe with the 480 in most games. I considered going 2x gtx480 instead of my 2x 5870, but the power requirement were through the roof. That IS relevant regardless of what you think. I'm not arguing that the 480 isn't a nice, fast chip.

Let's wait until later this year before you confirm that Ati will not have a new process this year. Nvidia rode the 8/9 series for over 2 years.

The fact that you claim the 5 series is a 4 series with dx11 added in instantly negates any substance or seriousness you are capable of. Are you SERIOUS!? I had a 4870 and was very happy with my 5870 upgrade. Read any review/benchmark/charts. I really can't believe you wrote that.

New engines that software developers are "creaming their pants over"? Isn't it up to the software developers to create the new engines? Ati provided full dx11 support in their new chips. What did Nvidia offer with the fermi? Great Tessalation enhancements. Wow... Mind-blowing. Dx11? 7 months later.

Fermi "advances gaming" according to you, so any arguments back and forth are lost on you. You are so far in the tank drowning in kool-aid with a statement like that. REALLY? Fermi advances gaming? And you are REALLY going to trot out the "Way it's meant to be played" line? My catalyst drivers run every game I own. Crossfire works great. I am a happy boy.

I digress.
KonaKona's Avatar
Oh boy, this thread has gotten FUN!

It does make for a great space heater though. Unfortunately I already paid 500$ for a space heater a few years back. It plays forza like nothing else.
evensen007's Avatar
LOL@ Kona! I honestly didn't mean to screw him up by quoting him like that!

I also should not have gotten worked up over something so stupid. They are both nice chips. Why are we discussing Fermi (dear god, can we stop calling the stupid thing Fermi? I propose G4 series or something.) in an Ati tape-out thread!?
Neural Net's Avatar
Because he's a fanboy that can't help himself. Your post was perfectly reasonable.
Zantal's Avatar
Charlie said Nvidia will be out of business very soon

I think charlie is the unhappiest guy that ever lived.
I mean cm on, he's acting even worse than fanboys Oo
KonaKona's Avatar
I know.

And this right here is QFT.

Ugh, let's not get started on charlie brown.
rollincoaster's Avatar
Has to be one of the best things my computer is good for during the winter months. It keeps my room like 3-5 degrees warmer
kayson's Avatar
It sucks when its 100 degrees outside though. Because then your room being 3-5 degrees warmer sucks. Stupid desert...
evensen007's Avatar
Or you could go liquid cooling, and it sucks all the heat into your water loop!
diaz's Avatar
GTX400 @ DX11 ftw.

ATi's architecture has been pretty much identical since the 2900XT. Since then, all they have done is increase the amount of shaders and play with the core speeds / GDDR configs. I wouldn't be surprised if their "new architecture" will be the exact same as the 5000 series but x2. The only obvious improvement IMO, should be the tessalation engine.

That said however, I hope 6000 series kicks butt. Always keeps nVidia on their toes. ATi is definitely pushing hard on nVidia right now performance/power draw. The only explanation I would have for this is the fact that nvidia's architecture is much more complex - which is not as efficient in DX9/DX10 games, but thrives in a DX11 environment. The 6000 should be hell bent on DX11 to de-throne the 400 series.

col_sanders's Avatar
de-throne? I didn't know the 400 series earned it.
Dolk's Avatar
Please stay on topic. This discussion is about the future 6000 seires from ATI, not about Fermi!
deathman20's Avatar
Don't use red man.... bad bad Dolk
Neural Net's Avatar
The 6000 series is going to use parts from a completely new architecture and if it's anymore efficient than the existing 5000 series architecture, Nvidia is in for a world of hurt because no die-shrink is going to save them.
Gwiggles's Avatar
Aren't we almost to the point with die shrinks where electrons will start to jump from transistor to transistor?
mattspalace's Avatar
I don't consider myself a fanboy at all, and while others say they are not, they are obviously making statements that are less than objective.

bottom line:
ATI is impressing right now. After 2-3 years of struggling to keep pace with Nvidia, they have their act together. The 5830 is their only 'flop' of a card, and it was probably only launched because of high demand across the 5800 series. If they can continue to build up their driver support, and not launch a lemon line-up of video cards, they'll be postured to do well. I had hoped ATI prices would drop when Fermi was released, but that's apparently not going to happen; at least not quite yet.

Nvidia is not impressing right now. Yes, they have the fastest single GPU card in the world, but it's also extremely hot, extremely noisy, and extremely power hungry. Having owned dozens of Nvidia video cards over the years, I can say this is the loudest video card I've ever had that didn't/doesn't have an overclock. The performance is impressive, but I expect better from Nvidia. I hope they get the next series right. If they don't, ATI is going to take a majority of the video card market away from them. Nvidia hit a grand slam with the 8800 series. I hope they do it again.. And yes, I'm sitting here with two GTX 470's at the moment, and wishing they would idle with temps that were comparable to my 5850's or 5870's.

I hope the 6000 series doesn't launch until Fall because I'm getting tired of buying video cards all the time!
Shiggity's Avatar
This is what Nvidia paid for with Fermi :

Back on topic :

HD6000 seems reminiscent of GT200, in that it is a 'bridge' architecture to something much better.

ATI -> Large quantity of smaller more efficient dies, co-existing with Fusion strategy. Fusion strategy can potentially work everywhere, from ultra low power all the way up to HPC, high volume is key.

Nvidia -> Gigantic 'co-processors' for HPC, discrete gaming takes a back seat for higher margin type cards. HPC is being pushed hard.

Their strategies aren't the same anymore, it'll be very interesting to see how they diverge from here on in.

I'd personally like to see AMD/ATI start trashing Intel in the integrated graphics arena and getting market share back. Nvidia is kind of screwed when Intel and AMD start putting world class graphics directly on die with their CPU's, seems like they didn't have much choice but to go hard to HPC and keep the 'halo' discrete GPU.

The even bigger picture isn't Nvidia vs. AMD / ATI vs. Intel, but x86 vs ARM.
wingman99's Avatar
I wonder if the 6000-Series Graphics Cards are really going to be outstanding, I have not heard of any real big changes in architecture.
Bobnova's Avatar
On-chip stuff won't ever be more then low end. The low end five years from now will make current mid to mid-high cards look pretty silly (4350 vs fx5600 anybody?), but by then the mid to high end will be that much more impressive.

The reason for this is power consumption. I don't see high end gpus getting any more power efficient, and CPU manufacturers can't be adding 200w to their 75w cpus.
evensen007's Avatar
I don't know about this. My Asus G73JH-A2 laptop has the Ati mobile 5870 in it that is 75watts and compares somewhere between a 5750 and 5770 @ stock. If you bump it up a little bit it can rival a 5770. If they can put it in a laptop, you'd think they could solder it onto a desktop motherboard right?
gheeD's Avatar
No need to be a fanboy, the manufacturer that brings the most bang for my buck will win. 4000 and 5000 series have been the winner, we'll see if its nvidia next generation.
Bobnova's Avatar
Have you looked at the GPU in your laptop? Odds are it's an MXM, so think about a 3.5x3.5 square absolutely packed in components. Now see if you can find room on a desktop mobo to put 3.5x3.5 of packed components and a cooler capable of getting rid of 75w.
psionic98's Avatar
There's room on those new extended matx boards to find room for 3.5" of room!
deathman20's Avatar
And how many typical people have a case of that size to use those boards? Let alone the price of the board would go up.

CPU's are hot as is, sure they might only put off 100-120W on the high end, until OCed, but even then adding another 70-100W for the GPU. That requires a vastly larger CPU cooler that motherboards aren't accustomed to take. Not only that an intake/exhaust system should be highly considered in this case then to. There is no room on the motherboard to put a heatsink system like seen on a GPU.
AngelfireUk83's Avatar
I'm just curious what are you temps for the SLi config you have????
diaz's Avatar

Even if 6000 (far fetched thought) would be on-chip, you'd end up with quite the power hog of a chip, not to forget about the size needed for each. That would require a monster socket with almost twice the amount of pins and then you're talking massive heat and power delivery issues...

Would be nice to see that happen in the next die shrinks though!
diaz's Avatar
If the fans are stock speed, then around 90C. If fans are custom profiled, then it depends on the fan speed + ambient...

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