Purported Radeon 6990 Tips Up, Excited Whispers Ensue

Photos of AMD's upcoming Radeon 6990 dual-GPU have surfaced on the Japanese website 4Gamer.net and the card's sheer bulk is an impressive sight. Instead of using a fan mounted at the back of the GPU that pushes air across and out the front, the 6990's fan sits dead center where it can simultaneously cool both GPUs. We're curious about how the air intake/outtake work in this design; it appears that the fan pulls air over the second GPU and pushes it across the first. No word yet on whether this card is larger than the 5970 but it sticks with the former's 6-pin / 8-pin auxiliary power connections.

The front of the 6990 sports four display ports and a single DVI, but we're hoping this is something of a beta layout. It seems odd to support five monitors instead of four or six, and while ATI is mostly committed to DisplayPort these days, HDMI ports are scarcely outmoded.

What we're most curious about is the card's specs and accompanying power draw. It's extremely unlikely that ATI can stick two 6970 dies on a single card since a single 6970 rates a 250W TDP and 300W is the upper limit for PCIe cards. When AMD built the still-dominant 5970, it combined the Radeon 5870's stream processor, ROP, and texture unit ratios while cutting clockspeeds down to Radeon 5850 levels. The Radeon 5850, however, was rated for a 151W TDP while the 6950 draws 200W.

How AMD will make up the difference is unclear; it's possible that the 6990 won't be as big a leap over the company's second-fastest part as the 5970 was compared to the 5870. Even if that turns out to be the case, we're still curious to see how the new card will slot into AMD's product structure. With Cayman, AMD put itself on competitive footing with the GeForce GTX 570—the 6990 could close the gap between itself and the GTX 580. If AMD prices the card to sell, the top end of the market could get awful interesting later on this year.