updated 03:30 pm EDT, Thu May 15, 2008
Radeon HD 4800 Launch Leak
AMD's upcoming ATI Radeon HD 4800 series cards will see a staggered launch over the late spring and summer that sees a number of significant improvements to the company's feature set, TG Daily says in a new leak. Besides expanding the amount of pixel and geometry effects each card can handle at once, the update is now said to build AMD's GPGPU physics processing into mainstream cards, letting supporting games and professional apps offload some of their work to the video card when not in use.
All cards will also have an improved video decoder that reduces the overhead on the main processor for HD video playback, as well as the ability to route 7.1-channel sound from the system through versions of the Radeons with HDMI output.
The card maker is expected to replace much of its video card lineup and will start with the June release of the Radeon HD 4850, a mid-range card that primarily represents a clock speed boost over the 3850; the board is cool enough to only need the space of a single slot for a fan. Most cards will reportedly be priced between $189 and $219 with 512MB of memory, though AMD is believed to be developing a less expensive 256MB version for large-scale computer builders.
Two more cards will appear in July that tackle the enthusiast and very high-end gamer audiences, according to the purportedly leaked details. The 4870 is touted as being twice as fast as the existing 3870 X2 despite having just one video processor to the older card's two; this is due in part to much better memory bandwidth than even faster NVIDIA cards. It would sell for between $249 and $279 in a 512MB version and will be accompanied by the 4870 X2, which doubles the number of processors and the theoretical performance to match. Pricing for this card hasn't been slipped by the alleged sources behind the launch information.
The releases are believed to help AMD regain its lost edge in video performance but may come after the anticipated launch of the GeForce 9900, which will stand as NVIDIA's new single-chip flagship chipset.