Current knowledge suggested that AMD’s Volcanic Islands series of graphics cards, which are to be based on the 20nm process, would get released at some point in mid to late 2014. The logic was that there would be revision of the 28nm process first, Sea Islands or HD 8000, which would be released in 2013 and then AMD would proceed to 20nm with Volcanic Islands and HD 9000 in 2014. However, a recent interview involving AMD’s Jim Keller and Chekib Akrout at Rage3D has revealed they may be coming this year.
“The next generation of graphics cards – Volcanic Islands – is coming this year and shaping up nicely. When you name products after places, it leads to interesting thoughts about where to hold events surrounding that namesake product. Typically places that are cheap to get travel to internationally for a worldwide congregation are preferred, so I’m off to renew my passport on the off chance I’m headed to Reykjavik later this summer. But I sure as hell wouldn’t complain about being sent to Honolulu, either.” Rage3D
This is quite a significant possibility as it suggests no revision of the 28nm process is coming. If we expect to see Volcanic Islands before the end of this year, then that almost definitely means the HD 8000 series will be based on 20nm architecture produced by TSMC and/or Common Platform Alliance. This means that 28nm “v2”, or the revised 28nm design (dubbed Sea Islands), won’t be released as a new series of graphics cards but may just be bundled into the existing HD 7000 line up. Indeed, we have probably already seen most of this with multiple refreshes of the HD 7000 series:
- HD 7870 —> HD 7870 XT
- HD 7950 –> HD 7950 Boost
- HD 7970 –> HD 7970 GHz Edition
- HD 7990 Partner Design –> HD 7990 Reference
- Introduction of the HD 7790
- Rumoured introduction of the HD 7730
Even if rumours of Nvidia launching their GTX 700 series later this month came true, AMD would still be “ahead of the game” if it were able to get out the 20nm Volcanic Islands generation of graphics cards this year. Nvidia’s GTX 700 series is expected to just be a rehash of current generation tech including the GTX 600 series and variations of the GTX Titan. Nvidia is then not expected to launch 20nm Maxwell GTX 800 series based graphics cards until mid 2014. This also means that Nvidia is following the lead of AMD in not creating a revised 28nm design and skipping straight onto 20nm tech.
The other possibility is that AMD rushes out the HD 8000 “Sea Islands” series in time for Computex 2013, which involves a bit of tweaking and tuning with the current HD 7000 “Southern Islands” series tech and product placements – much like what Nvidia are expected to do with the GTX 700 series – and then these are succeed by the 20nm “Volcanic Islands” based HD 9000 series at the end of 2013.
In both scenarios (that is a “HD 8000 20nm release” OR “HD 8000 28nm v2 release AND HD 9000 20nm release”) we could see a similar paper-launch like we did with the HD 7970 at the end of 2011. AMD may rush to get the flagship model out, be it a HD 8970 or HD 9970, and then follow with the rest of the series models in early 2014.
We do encourage people not to take this information too seriously as it is quite possible that what the AMD representatives said to Rage3D was misinterpreted or just false information. That said, that is still a lot of speculation to digest, so what are your thoughts on this story?