AMD announces laptop-bound Radeon HD 7000M series

Ah, the moment we've all been waiting for: next-generation Radeons are finally here! AMD has just announced its Radeon HD 7000M series of mobile graphics processors, which feature 40-nm silicon based on the company's existing VLIW5 Terascale 2 architecture, and—

...wait, what?

I was just as puzzled when AMD briefed us on these GPUs last month. Despite the model numbers, and despite all of the rumors we've heard about 28-nm graphics hardware being on the verge of release, these 7000-series parts are based on the same architecture and 40-nm fab process as AMD's current, 6000M-series mobile GPUs.

Today's launch covers only 7400M-, 7500M-, and 7600M-series offerings, so it would appear that AMD has left room in the lineup for real next-gen Radeons. There's no sign of them yet, though, and the specs for today's new arrivals aren't terribly exciting:

  Radeon HD
7400M series
Radeon HD
7500M series
Radeon HD
7600M series
Process 40 nm 40 nm 40 nm
Stream processors 160 480 480
Memory type DDR3/GDDR5 DDR3/GDDR5 DDR3/GDDR5
Memory bus width 64-bit 64-bit 128-bit
Eyefinity support up to 4 displays up to 4 displays up to 6 displays
Target segment "Value" "Mainstream" "Performance-Thin"

(All three GPU families also feature DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 1.4a connectivity, as well as support for AMD HD3D and Blu-ray 3D.)

The specs above don't hint at any great performance improvements over the 6400M and 6500M series. Yes, the 7500M has 80 more stream processors than the 6500M, but the 7400M is also saddled with half the memory interface width of the 6400M. At least all the 7000M-series GPUs have UVD3 video decoding blocks, which support DivX and XviD video acceleration. You might remember that some of the 6000M-series GPUs, including the 6500M, feature silicon repurposed from the Mobility Radeon HD 5000 series and thus have older UVD logic.

AMD's Product Manager for Discrete Graphics, Ogi Brkic (pronounced birr-kitch), also hinted during the briefing that 7000M-series GPUs fit in smaller packages than their predecessors, allowing them to squeeze into thinner laptops. We weren't able to coax straight answers or additional specifics out of the company before the launch, though, despite repeated requests. AMD's layoffs in PR and marketing have hit hard, and they've left us with only a vague understanding of what makes these new products, well, new. The best AMD could offer was the promise that, after the launch, more information would become available on its website.

Hopefully, AMD will fill out the 7000M series with truly next-generation GPUs before too long. Launches like this one seem counterproductive, though; they soften the impact of actual next-gen product releases and leave us press guys scratching our heads.

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