Rumour: Radeon HD 6000 coming this year

AMD's prize piece of kit at Computex was undoubtedly its new Fusion CPU architecture, but the word is that AMD also has big plans for its high-end GPU division this year.

German tech site Computer Base (Google translation) claims to have heard some hints from anonymous sources at AMD, implying that the company's forthcoming "Southern Islands" (bizarrely called "Southern Iceland" in the Google translation) GPUs will be hitting the shops by the end of 2010.

Rather than offering a revolutionary new GPU architecture, the site describes the new line of GPUs as a "refresh" of the Radeon HD 5000-series GPUs, and says that the new GPUs will focus more on efficiency improvements than cramming in more stream processors.

ATI performed a similar refresh-job when it released the first Radeon HD 3800-series GPUs. The chips featured exactly the same number of stream processors as the previous Radeon HD 2900 GPUs, but ATI had dramatically reduced the power consumption and heat output. This enabled Radeon HD 3850 cards to be fitted with single-slot coolers, and it also resulted in much cheaper graphics cards.

However, there was a die-shrink from 80nm to 55nm between the Radeon HD 2000 and 3000-series, and the word is that the new GPUs will be fabricated using the same 40nm process as the Radeon HD 5000 'Evergreen' chips. Let's hope that there will be a healthier supply of silicon this time round.

There's no news on the official name yet, but we'd be surprised if they weren't called the Radeon HD 6000-series, unless AMD has a radical rebranding scheme in the works.

According to Computer Base, we could even see the new chips in autumn this year, so we wouldn't even have to wait for winter. However, bear in mind that this was all based on hints, and none of this has been officially confirmed by AMD, so take all of this with an appropriate helping of salt.