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Radeon HD 6850 775 960 48 32 4.0 Gbps 256 19W/127W $179.99
Radeon HD 6870 900 1120 56 32 4.2 Gbps 256 19W/151W $239.99
Radeon HD 6950 800 1408 88 32 5.0 Gbps 256 20W/200W $299.99
Radeon HD 6970 880 1536 96 32 5.5 Gbps 256 20W/250W $369.99

The table above shows the key clock rates and specifications for the two new Cayman-based graphics cards, alongside their younger cousins in the Radeon HD 6800 series. We have a couple of bombshells in the memory department, one of which is the sheer-panic clock frequencies AMD has achieved for Cayman's GDDR5 interface and external memories. Nvidia's GeForce GTX 580 has a wider memory interface, but it tops out at just 4 Gbps. The other surprise on the memory front: both the 6950 and 6970 are packing 2GB of RAM by default. Even the GTX 580, a $500 video card, has only 1536MB. This higher RAM amount should allow the 6950 and 6970 to drive to some very high resolutions via Eyefinity and multiple displays without running out of space.

AMD says these two new cards should be available for sale today at online retailers. At $369.99, the 6970 is priced just above the GeForce GTX 570, whose suggested price (and current street price) is $349.99. Meanwhile, the 6950 has very little direct competition at the $300 mark, since Nvidia doesn't currently have a similar offering. AMD tells us it expects its partners to introduce 1GB variants of the Cayman cards that will sell for less, too. We think a 1GB version of the 6950 could be a very attractive offering at around $279. Here's hoping it happens.

The dark side of the 6970

From outside, the 6950 and 6970 are difficult to distinguish

The one obvious difference between the two: the 6970 has one eight-pin aux power input

From left to right: Radeon HD 6970, 6950, 6870, 6850

A naked Radeon HD 6950 card

The cooler includes a vapor chamber-based heatsink with a copper base—similar to GTX 500-series GeForces

That final picture above deserves some comment. First, notice that the Cayman cards have dual CrossFireX connectors, unlike the 6800 series. That means three- and four-way CrossFireX configurations should be possible. Second, check out that minuscule switch on the right. The 6900-series cards come with dual video BIOSes, so that the user can switch to a protected, backup BIOS should a bad flash scramble the main one. The switch allows the user to select which video BIOS to use. That's a nifty little safety provision, and it should pay off for AMD's partners in the form of lower RMA rates.