A few days ago, AMD gave word that we could expect to see the next level of ATI graphics cards some time in the second half of this year.
“We are ramping the ATI Radeon HD 5000 series now and look forward to refreshing the entire lineup in the second half of next year*,” said Dirk Meyer, chief executive officer of AMD, during quarterly conference call with financial analysts.
Now the question is, what will this refresh entail? There are two main options in this regard. One way we may see is a simple step-up involving an increase of clock speeds using the current HD 5000 series card architecture. With the TSMC currently working on the 28nm process, this could also include a die shrink.
The other, more intriguing option would be the release of the Northern Islands family of graphics cards. While not much is known about this family, rumors suggest that it utilizes a whole new architecture on either the 32nm or 28nm process. Another family name that has popped up is Hecatonchires, with chips codenamed Cozumel, Ibiza and Kauai.
Now the wording of Meyer's statement is a bit nebulous. Because the conference call was reporting results of the fourth quarter 2009 fiscal year, the "next year" part could be referring to the second half of the 2010 fiscal year. However, seeing as previous reports showed Northern Islands being released in 2011, it could be literally next year. Still, even if that were the case, with Meyer saying they are "ramping the ATI Radeon HD 5000 series" we could very well see the first option occurring.