AMD Launches 'Graphics Core Next' With The Radeon HD 7970, Takes World's Fastest Graphics Card Title

AMD has hit the rumoured date and officially launched its Radeon HD 7970 series of graphics card products, taking the title of world's fastest graphics processing unit from rival Nvidia.

The first GPU products to be built under a new architecture and on a 28nm process size, initial reviews of the boards are promising showing the fastest performance available from any single-GPU graphics card.

The specifications are certainly impressive: moving away from the Very Long Instruction Set Word 4 (VLIW4) architecture, AMD has introduced a Multiple Instruction Multiple Data (MIMD) configuration based on groups of 64 Single Instruction Multiple Data (SIMD) processing cores known as Graphics Core Next, or GCN.

AMD's initial GCN GPU, found in the HD 7970 boards, includes 32 MIMD clusters for a total of 2,048 SIMD processing cores - a significant boost over the 1,536 stream processing cores found in its previous-generation flagship GPU. As predicted, there's 3GB of GDDR5 graphics memory running on a 386-bit bus.

The news isn't all good, however: initial retail pricing is around £440 from AMD's hardware partners, making it an expensive - though powerful - option.

Today's launch is also more of a paper event than a real release: while limited quantities of the boards are ostensibly available to purchase now, real supply won't begin until early next month; anyone hoping for a Radeon HD 7970 as a Christmas present will, therefore, likely have to make do with an IOU.