Fabrication process changes and architecture changes in graphics processing units can create a situation much like puting your hand into a meat grinder.
It will hurt.
When the move from 65nm to 40nm was happening, AMD was affected by availability issues and poor yields and NVIDIA were struggling to even launch Fermi. A year after the release of the 5000 series, AMD was shuffling back to 40nm after expecting to be able to make use of the 32nm process for their 6000 series and NVIDIA capitalising on the mature 40nm process with the 500 series, are we wise to expect similar issues around the move to 28nm?
(*Gets the meat grinder out ready!*)
There has been a number of rumours over the past few months that AMD have already taped out the Southern Islands GPUs and are rumoured to be released around late Q3-Q4 2011. This is not a far cry from the realms of reality though as this is a traditional time to see a release of such importance. Though should we expect poor avilability and high prices for upto a year after? Well recently the code names for the Southern Islands family have been confirmed in the early Catalyst 11.7 being 'New Zealand', 'Tahiti', 'Thames' and 'Lombok'. This information will further fuel more rumours of impending release.
Though to throw a spanner in the works, there are reports that NVIDIA's 'Kepler', the successor to Fermi, will not release until Q1 2012 and that the maturity of the 28nm process is to blame. This news casts a dark shadow over those looking to snap up a shiny new Radeon HD7970 early because of poor availability or those waiting for a GTX 680, we can only cross our fingers and hope that they do not get plagued by delays and poor yields to the extent that NVIDIA are forced to release the 600 series 6 months after AMD release the 7000 series. (sound familiar?)