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Radeon HD 6000 expected by end of 2010

AMD's next generation of DirectX 11 GPUs could be rolling up as soon as the fourth quarter of this year, according to a representative from AMD board partner HIS.

Speaking to Funky Kit, the graphics card maker's senior marketing officer in Hong Kong, Kenny Chow, opened the proverbial can of beans. Sadly, the full interview requires registration to read, and we're guessing AMD's legal eagles have already swooped in, as even registered users are now presented with an error message reading: "You are not authorised to view this resource" if you try to access it.

Luckily, the guys at Xbit Labs managed to retrieve the magic quote before it disappeared. "We are expecting the new ATI Radeon HD 6000-series to be announced later this year, around Q4 2010," said Chow." According to the site, he then added "after which, we will be releasing our own Radeon HD 6000-series early next year."

The news corresponds with earlier rumours about the launch of the Radeon HD 6000-series, codenamed Southern Islands, although it now looks as though AMD might announce the chip a little while before graphics cards start shipping.

Little is known about the specifications of the Radeon HD 6000-series yet, but it's widely expected to be more of a refresh of the Radeon HD 5000-series, as opposed to an architectural overhaul, while sticking with a 40nm fabrication process.

Rather than packing in even more stream processors, which would be a tough job without a die-shrink, the new GPUs are expected to offer efficiency improvements, along with reduced power consumption and heat output.

AMD had a similar strategy when it stepped from the Radeon HD 2000-series to the 3000-series, retaining the same number of stream processors, but reducing the power consumption and heat output enough to cool the Radeon HD 3850 with a single-slot cooler.

Of course, AMD hasn't confirmed any of this yet, and Chow's use of the word "expect" is still pretty vague. Nonetheless, with Nvidia's GeForce top-end GF100-based Fermi chips consuming large amounts of power and pumping out the heat, a streamlined and power-efficient DirectX 11 architecture could be a real winner for AMD.