AMD held a press briefing today on their upcoming 8000M graphics chips, which they are calling the "second generation GCN architecture" parts. We’ll have more on that in a moment, but while we were expecting (dreading) a rebranding prior to the call, it appears we are at least partially mistaken; there will be at least one completely new GPU with 8000M. (If you want additional background material, you can see the previous generation high-end 7000M announcement from April 2012 for reference.)

I’m not going to get too far into the marketing aspects, as we’ve heard all of this information before: AMD has improved Enduro Technology, they’re continuing to improve their drivers, and APP Acceleration has a few more applications. There have been a few major titles released in the past couple of months with AMD Gaming Evolved branding (Far Cry 3 is arguably the most notable of the offerings, with Hitman: Absolution and Sleeping Dogs also scoring well amongst critics and users), and Bioshock Infinite is at least one future release that I'm looking forward to playing.

Cutting straight to the chase, at this point AMD has released limited information on the core specifications for some of their 8000M GPUs, but they coyly note that at least one more GPU announcement will be forthcoming in Q2 2013 (8900M by all appearances). Today is a soft launch of high level details, with more architectural information and product details scheduled for January 7, 2013 at CES. AMD did not share any codenames for the newly announced mobile GPUs, if you’re wondering, other than the overall family name of “Solar” for the mobile chips (replacing the outgoing “London” series), but we do know from other sources that the 384 core part is codenamed "Mars" while the larger 640 core part is codenamed "Neptune". Here are the details we have right now:

AMD Radeon HD 8500M, 8600M, 8700M, and 8800M
HD 8500M
HD 8600M
HD 8700M
HD 8800M
Stream Processors 384 384 384 640
Engine Clock 650MHz 775MHz 650-850MHz 650-700MHz
Memory Clock 2.0GHz/4.5GHz 2.0GHz/4.5GHz 2.0GHz/4.5GHz 4.5GHz
FP32 GFLOPS 537 633 537-691 992
FP64 GFLOPS 33 39 33-42 62

Obviously there are a lot of missing pieces right now, but what we immediately notice is that the core count on the 8500M/8600M/8700M means that we’re definitely looking at a new GPU. The only other time we’ve seen AMD do 384 cores is with Trinity, but that’s a VLIW4 architecture so we’re not seeing that again. Given the currently shipping Southern Islands chips (“London” on the mobile side) have 640 cores max for Cape Verde, 1280 max for Pitcairn, and up to 2048 for Tahiti, AMD has likely created a fourth SI derivative that drops down to two CU arrays, each with three CUs. (You can read more about the GCN/SI architecture in our earlier GPU coverage.) Performance is something of a wildcard with the new 384 core parts, and the choice of DDR3/GDDR5 memory will also influence the final result. We'll find out in the coming months how the 8500/8600/8700M stack up to NVIDIA's midrange "GT" offerings, which interestingly are also using 384 cores.

Also worth a quick note is that AMD is not discussing TDPs at this point in time—which is common practice for both AMD and NVIDIA. We expect the new "Mars" parts to be more power efficient than the outgoing Thames/Turks cores, thanks to the shrink to a 28nm process. However, AMD and NVIDIA typically stick to common power targets for laptops that are dictated by their OEM partners, which often means they'll play with clock speeds in order to hit a specific TDP. That's why all of the clock speeds listed in the above table have a qualifying "up to" prefix (which I omitted).

The final announced card is the one where we appear to have more of a rebrand/optimization of a previous generation chip. 8800M has the same 640 core count as Cape Verde/7800M, only with modified clocks this time. The earlier 7800M chips could clock up as high as 800MHz, so maximum core clock is actually down a bit, but they only ran the memory at up to 1GHz (4GHz effective) GDDR5. If AMD determined memory bandwidth was more important for that particular GPU than shader performance, the new 8800M would make sense. Also note that AMD isn’t including the boost clock speeds into the above chart; under the right circumstances, all of the new chips can run at higher clocks than the reference clock.

Radeon 7800M Left, Radeon 8800M Right

AMD isn’t calling the 8800M a rebrand, but we’re looking at the same core counts as Cape Verde and the same 28nm process technology, so we wouldn’t expect a substantial change in performance. There’s also the above chip shot as a point of reference. If the 8800M is substantially different from Cape Verde then the above images provided in AMD’s slides must be incorrect, as the new and old chips look the same. Minor tweaks to power use, caching, or other elements notwithstanding, we’re probably dealing with a die respin at most. But, there’s nothing inherently wrong with rebranding—AMD and NVIDIA have both been doing it for some time now. Don’t expect every “upgraded” GPU to be better; a 7400M isn’t faster than a 6700M, and likewise we expect 7700M and 7800M to be faster options than the 384 core 8500M/8600M/8700M and competitive with 8800M. Here’s a quick recap of the same core specs as above for the current 7700M/7800M parts:

AMD Radeon HD 7700M/7800M Specifications
HD 7730M
HD 7750M
HD 7770M
HD 7850M
HD 7870M
Stream Processors 512 512 512 640 640
Engine Clock 575-675MHz 575MHz 675MHz 675MHz 800MHz
Memory Clock 1.8GHz 4.0GHz 4.0GHz 4.0GHz 4.0GHz
FP32 GFLOPS 589-691 589 691 864 1024
FP64 GFLOPS 36.8-43.2 36.8 43.2 54 64

I’ll refrain from commenting too much more about performance of an unreleased part, but AMD indicated their 8870M should be substantially faster than NVIDIA’s current GT 650M GDDR5 (which isn’t too surprising considering clocks and core counts), and the 8770M should likewise be a healthy 20%+ bump in performance relative to the 7670M. I’d rather see comparisons with GTX 670MX and HD 7770M, respectively, but I suspect those wouldn’t be quite as impressive. Anyway, you can see AMD’s comparison charts in the complete slide deck gallery below. Availability of the new GPUs is slated for Q1 2013.



View All Comments

  • RussianSensation - Thursday, December 20, 2012 - link

    What's your back-up name? Wreckage? Rollo? Jesse Lee? You sound like one of those uninformed trolls.

    Did you forget that GT640 was 3 different GPUs? No only did they mix and match DDR3 and GDDR5, but GT640 was both a Fermi and a Kepler part:

    Oh how quickly you forgot that a ton of GTX600 parts were rebadged Fermis and not 28nm Keplers:

    Did you close your blind eye to NV crippling its GPUs with 64-bit and DDR3 memory as well?

    Both companies have been using these shortcuts for years, labelling old generation as next gen, mixing and matching 64/128-bit buses, DDR3 with GDDR5, etc. Next time if you are going to pretend to be an informed fanboy, at least do some research so you don't make a fool out of yourself on a tech website.
  • SlyNine - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    Don't feed the trolls. Reply
  • Wolfpup - Monday, December 17, 2012 - link

    The 7000 series is a mixture of last gen and GCN parts for mobile, which is annoying and confusing, but not new. Both companies have been doing this for years now...heck, really going all the way back to the Geforce 4 vs. Geforce 4 MX that was kind of a Geforce 2. Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Wednesday, December 19, 2012 - link

    Yes, when amd does it, be certain to never mention them directly and then of course make certain to blame their competitor.

    Another perfect little amd fanboy, the verdetrol is working well.
  • silverblue - Thursday, December 20, 2012 - link

    The 4000 and 5000 series were self contained, however there are times that utiising a previous generation's technology to fill certain price points makes sense. The G92 was recycled enough, let's be honest.

    We can go back and look at both companies in more detail if you like as regards rebrands and redesigns. The Radeon 9000 was a redesign whilst the 6770, besides the newer UVD block, was just a 5770 rebrand (decent card that sold well, so it's not really that offensive).

    If AMD can behave as regards their branding then that's one major complaint out of the way, leaving a few more to go. NVIDIA need to sort themselves out in this area too.
  • CeriseCogburn - Tuesday, December 25, 2012 - link

    You people raged for what seemed a decade over the G80 + all it's derivatives, the difference being it was the king chip[ at the time, and for a long time, and all it's derivatives brought that king performance crown on down to the masses for a very long time.
    G80 aka G92 derivative, is still a decent gaming chip to this very day.

    I loved listening to the endless lies from you very same people, who now have a statuatory nuanced view with all sorts of caveats and cannot HELP themselves to definitely mention the not bankrupt competition when it's nowhere in sight - not even any tiny bit of the article (except of course the required pathetic rabbiting about nVidia, since that's who you people are. )

    I will thoroughly enjoy amd's coming bankruptcy, I will relish every moment, you can count on it, I won't be able to stop laughing and celebrating.
    I will also blame it on people like you, as that where the blame lies. :-)
    Great job fanboy, destruction is thy fare.
  • Gunbuster - Monday, December 17, 2012 - link

    Sleazy pr 101 start your vs bar chart at something other than 0. Reply
  • Mr Perfect - Tuesday, December 18, 2012 - link

    We where all only looking at the top third of the chart anyway, right? Reply
  • Mr Perfect - Tuesday, December 18, 2012 - link

    And yes, that was sarcasm on my part. Reply
  • mrdude - Monday, December 17, 2012 - link

    Why didn't you bother to mention that these cards are the successors to the old 40nm VLIW5 lineup?

    "Performance-wise, AMD expects the new GPUs to be substantially quicker than their predecessors. The company's internal benchmarks show gains of around 20-50% from the Radeon HD 7590M to the Radeon HD 8690M, and about as much from the 7670M to the 8770M. In other words, folks should be getting a lot more performance—and likely increased power efficiency—at the same price points."

    No, these aren't rebrands - *unless the 8800m is*. Instead, these are the replacements to the old 5xxx/6xxx cards that were rebranded and called anything under 7690m.

    It seems TSMC's ramped up production of 28nm enough and wafer availability + pricing has gotten to a point where it makes sense to salvage some potential scrap and make a lower end GPU out of it. If these are priced right they could make for good laptop chips, provided AMD can actually get Enduro working.

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