At a press event today, AMD announced a full suite of new GPUs based on a new, evolved version of its Graphics Core Next (GCN
) architecture. The Radeon R7 and R9 families are the new product lines aimed at mainstream, performance, and high-end gaming, respectively. Specs on the new cards are still limited, but we know that the highest-end Radeon R9 290X
is a six-billion transistor GPU with more than 300GB/s of memory bandwidth and prominent support for 4K gaming.
GCN 2.0 has been widely rumored as a next-gen feature of the card, but AMD appears to be avoiding that term. They refer to multiple power efficiency enhancements in the GPU, but nothing regarding a GCN 2.0. That implies that the new R9 290X is essentially a more power-efficient, larger version of the same GPU that debuted in 2011. That's not necessarily a bad thing, given that GCN has been a strong architecture for AMD. With multiple consoles based on GCN, Sunnyvale may think it can leverage the specialization work done for those chips and see strong improvements from these cores.
The R5 series will start at $89, with 1GB of RAM. The R7 260X will hit $139 with 2GB of RAM, the R9 270X and 280X appear to replace the current Radeon 7950 and 7970 with price points at $199 and $299, and 2GB/3GB of RAM, and then the R9 290X, at an unannounced price point and 4GB of RAM.
AMD is also offering a limited preorder pack, that lets people buy a Battlefield 4
license combined with the GPU, which should go on sale in the very near future.
Finally, AMD is also debuting a new positional and 3D spatial audio engine in conjunction with GenAudio dubbed "AstoundSound," but they're only making it available on the R9 290X, R9 290, and the R7 260X. The keynote is still ongoing, but for the record, it seems like an odd decision. Pushing out new technology almost always
requires a complete product lineup for support -- by only bringing audio out across a few cards, AMD risks pigeonholing its own next generation technology. The idea of a positional audio engine is itself odd, but we'll get back to you with more details on that as they become available.