AMD finally clarifies its plans for 2013 and its upcoming HD 8000 line of graphics cards
To begin with, there are two new code names in use: "Sea Islands" and "Solar System". The former refers to the Radeon HD 8000 of desktop graphics cards, while the latter refers to the mobile Radeon HD 8000M family, which we previewed in AMD Radeon HD 8790M: Next-Gen Mobile Mainstream Graphics Preview.
The HD 8000 series has been surrounded in rumors that paradoxically claim that they have been released whilst others deny its existence altogether. It turns out that both are true, since all existing Radeon HD 8000s (desktop and mobile) are based on the same GCN architecture already driving the Radeon HD 7000 line-ups. AMD does have new silicon on the mobile side powering its Radeon HD 8500M, 8600M, and 8700M GPUs. That part is code-named Mars, and it's the hardware we previewed late last year. Both Sea Islands- and Solar System-based solutions are OEM-only components, which the company claims will not be available for purchase in the channel.
AMD also noted that the Radeon HD 7900 series will remain on top of its stack until the end of 2013, and that there will be new 7000-series SKUs coming out this year. Representatives were not prepared to discuss where on the performance spectrum those parts might surface, though we'd certainly like to see the company design a 7990 able to combine the power of two Tahiti GPUs in a well-engineered package that addresses some of the acoustic issues we've encountered with its single-GPU boards.
For those worried about the break in design cadence and persistence of the first implementation of GCN, AMD's vice president of channel sales, Roy Taylor, had the following to say: "We have products, we have a road map. We are not announcing them now because we want to reposition the ones we have now. We are not sitting still, we do not lack resources, we do not lack imagination."
He also added that the reason AMD is not releasing any new parts this year is that "7000-series parts are continuing to ramp up, sales are increasing". The suggestion, of course, was that AMD has no intention of releasing new parts while its existing parts are selling well.
AMD believes it offers the best products on the market, Roy reiterated several times on the call. The company plans to spend 2013 working on its drivers, establishing relationships with gaming companies, and it may release a small number of new SKUs.