Juniper changes name: say hi to the Radeon HD 6770, 6750

If you were shopping for a pre-built PC recently, you might have noticed some machines shipping with Radeon HD 6770 and 6750 graphics cards. For a while, AMD's official line was that those products were simply re-branded versions of the Radeon HD 5770 and 5750 aimed strictly at PC makers. Well, that's changing today.

AMD has announced that cards labeled Radeon HD 6770 and 6750 will be supplanting the 5770 and 5750 in e-tail listings and on retail shelves over the course of the next few weeks. The new cards have the same Juniper graphics chips, clock speeds, unit counts, and memory as their 5000-series namesakes. However, AMD has made a couple of small tweaks: the UVD2 video decoding block now sports new firmware that adds support for hardware-accelerated Blu-ray 3D video playback, and HDMI 1.4a connectivity is now supported.

Why the sudden name change? AMD tells us it wanted to update the branding of these products to make it clear where they stand in relation to the Radeon HD 6000 series. As you may know, that product family recently welcomed three sub-$100 offerings. Explaining to consumers that a couple of ATI-branded Radeon HD 5000-series offerings bridge the gap between the new $99 AMD Radeon HD 6670 and the $170 AMD Radeon HD 6850 would be somewhat difficult, so AMD went with the next best solution—re-branding with a dash of updates.

Once stocks of the 5700 series run out, we're told the 6700 series will essentially take over at the same price points as the old cards. Soon, the 5770 and 5750 may be all but a happy memory, at least as far as retailers are concerned.

So, there you have it. Applying new names to old products is never pretty, and GPU makers always seem to catch flak for it from enthusiasts, since new model numbers convey an expectation of fresh hardware with often better performance. In this case, though, I can see AMD's point of view. The company plans to continue shipping these products throughout 2011, and they remain fairly competitive and attractively priced. Having Juniper fall into disuse because of a naming issue would be a shame.

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