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Introducing AMD's Graphics Core Next-based Radeon R9 290X

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) on Thursday unveiled the star of its new Radeon R9 series of graphics cards, the Radeon R9 290X, a 6.2 billion-transistor burner for enthusiast and gaming rigs.

AMD lifted the curtain on several R9-family graphics processors a few weeks ago, including the R9 270X and R9 280X, but the R9 290X is in a class by itself as the next-gen, Graphics Core Next-based GPU that will succeed the Radeon HD 8990 as the top consumer desktop graphics product in the chip maker's stable.

Along with the Radeon R9 290, the 290X is built to support UltraHD, 4K displays for future "Ultra Resolution Gaming," supports AMD's new Mantle application programming interface which migrates console gaming features to the PC, and features the company's PowerTune technology to provide more user control, over-clocking and thermals.

AMD hasn't divulged the general availability date for the Radeon R9 290X but did reveal this week that it will be priced at $549 (£339).

So what are you getting with this new monster, 28-nanometer graphics processor? Radeon R9 290 series GPUs have 1.4 times the stream processors as the Radeon HD 7970 and twice the back-end rendering capabilities, AMD said. They support the latest Eyefinity technology to the tune of supporting up to six displays for gaming, boast up to 44 compute units, four geometry processors, and 1 MB of L2 cache, and feature AMD TrueAudio technology.

Running a single Radeon R9 290X card to support a 3,840 x 2,160 resolution display will deliver nearly 70-frames-per-second performance in Skyrim and frame rates of at or near 60-per for Battlefield 3 and Far Cry 3, AMD noted. Using AMD's CrossFire to pair up the new GPUs results in even better scaled-up performance gains, with a pair of 290X cards scoring 1.87 times better in the 3DMark Firststrike benchmark than the HD 7970, and a trio of cards boosting previous-gen performance by 2.6 times.

AMD's new Radeon R9 290X has 2,816 stream processors, throttles up to 1 GHz, and provides up to 5.6 TFLOPS of compute performance. The R9 290, meanwhile, has 2,560 stream processors, a 947 MHz clock, and compute performance measuring in at 4.9 TFLOPS. Both GPUs support PCI-E 3.0, DirectX 11.2, OpenGL 4.3, and Mantle, and sport 4 GB GDDR5, 512-bit memory with 5.0 Gbps throughput.