Earlier this week, we reported on rumors of two upcoming mid-range AMD 8800 series graphics cards based on the Sea Islands architecture. As mentioned previously, Sea Islands is the successor to the Southern Islands architecture used on the 7000 series. It features an improved Graphics Core Next GPU processor architecture based on TSMC's 28nm process. With that said, the chip will draw less power and be faster on GPGPU workloads thanks to several efficiency tweaks. Graphics cards based on Sea Islands will support DirectX 11, and will be available early next year.
While the 8850 and 8870 are based on the Oland GPU, this newly leaked Radeon HD 8970 will use the "Sea Islands" Tenerife GPU instead (and has a TDP of 250W). Tenerife offers up some impressive (but realistic) specifications, including 2,304 shaders, 128 texture units, 48 ROPs, and a relatively massive 384-bit memory bus. The HD 8970 will support 3GB of GDDR5 memory running at 6GHz, and on the 384-bit bus, the GPU has approximately 322 GB/s of bandwidth! Further, the 16 additional ROP units will give the Radeon HD 8970 a nice performance boost over the 8800 series, especially when running multiple monitors in Eyefinity configurations.
As far as specifications go, we do not yet know the die size of the GPU or what the GPU base (and boost) clockspeeds are. According to PC Perspective's GPU packrat reviewer Josh Walrath, the Tenerife GPU will have a much larger die than that of Oland. It will still be based on a 28nm process, but will be somewhere between 380mm^2 and 420mm^2. To put that in perspective, the 8850/8870 has a die size of 270mm^2.
The AMD Radeon HD 8970 will be AMD's next generation single-GPU flagship graphics card, and it looks to offer up some respectable hardware. Unfortunately we do not know what this Tenerife GPU graphics card will be priced at. For now, we will just have to be cautiously optimistic and wait a few months to see how much this card will cost. The wait should not be very long either, if rumors are true as they seem to indicate that the 8970 will be launched in late 2012 or early (January/February) 2013.
Details Leak on AMD's Sea Islands HD 8970 Graphics Card | PC Perspective