As expected, AMD has launched its HD5870 Graphics Processing Unit along with its little brother, the HD5850, with a number of graphics card manufacturers announcing cards build around the two chips.
The HD5000 series has been launched a few weeks before Windows 7 officially comes to market and will be the first generation of video cards to support Microsoft DirectX 11 technology.
Build on TMSC's 40nm manufacturing process, it packs more than two billion transistors and can push through more than 20 gigapixels per second with a raw processing power of over 2.7 TeraFLOPS.
A gaming computer equipped with one HD5870 video card would have been in the top 10 supercomputers in 2003. Each card will be coming with 1GB GDDR5 memory to provide with enough data to the GPU.
The memory is clocked at 1.2GHz while the core runs at 850MHz. The HD5850 is a notch down but should provide with enough oomph to compete with contemporary rivals from Nvidia.
Customers can also expect ATI's proprietary Eyefinity multi-display technology to come as standard which will allow up to six displays to be used on a dual-card workstation using AMD's Crossfire.
Even if the card is not as fast as the GTX295 in many games as expected, the fact that it will be cheaper than the top end Geforce from Nvidia is likely to put even more pressure on the Green team to come up with something spectacular.
Expect the cards to be widely available before the end of the year and cost as little as £220 for the HD5850 up to around £300 for the HD5870.
As usual, supply is going to be the delicate part of selling the parts. With as many as ten manufacturers lining up graphic cards, one might expect thousands of HD58x0 cards to turn up but unfortunately, that is not going to be the case it seems with US and Europe availability likely to remain tight for the next few months