updated 07:45 am EDT, Wed September 10, 2008
AMD Radeon HD 4600
AMD started off Wednesday by setting a new relative ground floor for performance and hoping to beat NVIDIA's GeForce 9500 cards. The Radeon HD 4600 series is claimed to outperform both the 9500 GT and AMD's own earlier Radeon HD 3650 by including all the hardware optimizations of the 4800 series and still keeping 320 stream (visual effects) processors. It's also one of the least expensive graphics chipsets to support DirectX 10.1 and newer OpenGL 2.x visual effects, such as more precise lighting.
All of the chipsets in the launch lineup are made on a 55nm manufacturing process and so consume relatively little power, according to AMD: neither needs a secondary power connection, and the fastest edition consumes no more than 60 watts of power. The improvement is both more environmentally friendly and also convenient for very thin or small cases.
They also support full hardware HD video decoding and 7.1-channel audio pass-through on cards that have HDMI output.
A basic Radeon HD 4650 is estimated to cost as little as $69 and does so by using 512MB of GDDR2 memory; a Radeon HD 4670 is only slightly more expensive at $79 and switches to faster GDDR3. Both ship now, while the company also plans to enable a 4670 version with 1GB of memory for card makers later this month. In addition to supplying the new Radeons to PC builders that need custom cards, AMD also expects third-party boards from ASUS, Diamond, MSI and several other manufacturers.