A combination of a twitter post and an interview with 4Gamer.net has confirmed AMD fans worst fear, the HD 8000 Sea Islands series is without a doubt being delayed until Q4 2013 and possibly even Q1 2014.
“Yes, I made that comment. I cannot say anything more than what I’ve already said, really. AMD and its partners are happy with the HD 7000 Series, and it will continue to be our emphasis in the channel for the foreseeable future. I should note that HD 8000 Series has never been so much as hinted at for a channel release. Anything to the contrary is an unsubstantiated rumor fabricated to drive traffic.” – Robert Hallock
One has to wonder, is AMD really this confident in their HD 7000 series performance or have the next gen console contracts with both Microsoft and Sony put a kink in their release scheduling for their PC hardware. It is pretty much known that AMD is powering both the CPU and GPU for the PS4 and the GPU featured on the Xbox 720. These are huge contracts for AMD to fulfill and will be the biggest console releases in almost a decade. Have these large commitments taken precedent for AMD engineers? That is one theory on why Sea Islands is possibly a Q1 2014 release now, for sure Q4 2013 at the earliest.
The other possibility is that Sea Islands is simply not yet ready to be released with the new GCN 2.0 architecture, perhaps in power draw/efficiency. AMD lost pretty substantially this time around when it came to load power consumption; the 7970 GHz edition uses 67W more than the 680 in a Metro 2033 stress test. This came as a result of AMD’s Boost Clock voltage change where the reference 7970 was voltage was upped 0.043V in order to beat the GTX 680. One has to wonder why NVIDIA didn’t follow suit and release a faster “stock” GTX 680, as they had more leeway in the power draw area with a very OCing friendly Kepler design. The change in the 7970 voltages may sound like a small amount to reach the GHz speed, but in the same stress test link above you will see the reference 7970 uses 38W less at load than the GHz Edition.
When you take into account this large jump with such a minor change, you have to think about AMD adding more Stream Processors, TMUs, ROPs, etc. on the new GCN 2.0 architecture resulting in a higher overall transistor count. An increase in all of these GPU components causes greater power draw and in turn more heat; it is possible that AMD is battling a way to combat this power/heat issue in their new design. There is a reason AMD never released a reference HD 7990 and I believe it is due to the power and heat of two Tahiti cores on a single PCB. Of course AMD is not going to comment on either of these scenarios, but it is information that is valid and should be considered when looking ahead as to why AMD has announced the release date of Q4 2013 at the earliest and possibly Q1 2014.
AMD is providing slides showing us how much faster the 7970 GHz is over the GTX 680 to prove to us why we don’t need to worry about the HD 8000 series yet (Note: the above slide is the 4 day old 3DMark Fire Strike benchmark). However has AMD been ignoring all of the GK110 Titan rumors that have been circulating around the web over the past month? I know Titan is supposed to be a limited production run and cost roughly $900, but it is a NVIDIA GeForce card that is supposed to be released inside of the next month. This card will without a doubt knock off the 7970 GHz from the top spot once it hits consumers. With the GTX 700 series delay also rumored to Q4 2013, Titan will be the only new card released in the next 7-8 months. Is AMD going to simply brush off this card and hope offering three blockbuster games with select HD 7000 series cards will dilute the imminent buzz of Titan?
Why do you think AMD has officially announced the delay of Sea Islands until Q4 2013 or even Q1 2014? Do you think consoles are holding up the development process or do you think there is an issue with the design itself, such as power requirements? I think it could be a combination of both and I am pretty confident contracts with both console developers is playing some role in this delay. Stay tuned to VC for the latest.
Edit – AMD confirms that the HD 8000 Series will not be delayed until Q1 2014.
AMD Rep: “We will certainly have new [GPU] products in 2013.”
Although that was always just a rumor to begin with based on their own roadmap picture. Does this also verify the delay until Q4 2013 in the process?