Starved of official information from the leading players, the I.T. Press in the past few weeks have reported on a number of strong rumours regarding the roadmap for the two leading GPU manufacturers. In an effort to illuminate the discussion and prevent customer confusion, AMD reached out to members of the Press and provided a few details of their 2013 release schedule.
Their first concern was to address the currently confusing messaging for the 8000-series SKUs. Uncharacteristically, they opened that the codename Sea Islands refers to the OEM desktop lines being integrated into products from January of this year, with mobile 8000M-lines incorporating a Solar System nomenclature, e.g. Mars. This series will be rounded out as the year progresses, prioritising OEM desktops and notebooks but not at present reaching the performance-level discrete class.
Moving to this discrete-class performance graphics, AMD made it plain that with the release of dual-7970 AIB SKUs they felt they could lay claim to the fastest single card and the fastest GPU at the time of writing. Citing recent gains made by the AMD driver development team Roy Taylor, VP of Worldwide Component Channel Sales, stated "AMD has the fastest GPUs in the stack" and didn't feel the need to introduce new products into the market whilst they had a clear lead. As it stands the Tahiti XT aka HD7970 will be AMD's fastest GPU until they release a new series of products in the channel, currently scheduled for late 2013.
This was not to say that the market would be neglected until the new series is release later in the year. The Never Settle Reloaded bundle has so far been a huge success with record sales and the first half of 2013 will be punctuated by a deepening of the midrange GPUs begun by the release of the 7870 XT. Although they weren't willing to divulge specifics, AMD did state that the lower end of the performance line will be addressed by new products in the coming months in order to meet the performance expectations of consumers upon the release of the next generation of games. New driver iterations will also continue to improve performance already taking advantage of an AMD 7000-series GPU, boosting capabilities across the range.
Taylor in particular was bullish in his comments. After what was arguably a technological lead for NVIDIA in during the days of the 400 and 500-series "[t]he battle between NVIDIA and AMD is back on," and he relishes taking the fight to them in the GPU space. Developers, he says, are increasingly choosing AMD as their development platform which he believes will be reflected in discussions at GDC next month. Thanks to this relationship new bundles are also in the pipeline, providing new game value for consumers rather than Free To Play in-game credits offered by NVIDIA.
When pressed over the imminent release of NVIDIA's GeForce Titan, Taylor was coy in his response. Quite reasonably he stated that making a judgement on the GPU before it had even reached market would be premature, but that according to the benchmarks he had seen the recently released ASUS ARES II would remain the fastest card on the market. He went on to imply that it was a reflection of AMDs strength that NVIDIA felt the need to re-purpose a server GPU (the GK110) in order to compete effectively. He would not be drawn on what this meant for AMDs current claims of having the fastest GPU on the market.
Taylor added that he appreciates NVIDIA's expertise and looks forward to duking it out with them for the GPU crown. He couldn't resist a parting shot however, referencing NVIDIA's continued development in the mobile sector by adding: "we respect [NVIDIA's] transition into being a smartphone company." If there is to be a battle coming, it should be a spicy one.