The HD7970 reference cooler. A new one of these seems likely too
Once again it's rumour season, with potential specs for AMD's upcoming Hawaii GPU being this weeks choice titbit. German graphics specialist site 3DCenter.org have unearthed new details from a reliable source which cast light on realistic expectations for the new cards.
Built on TSMC's 28nm process, the R9-290X codename "Hawaii XT" will be based on GCN2.0, an update of the 7000-series' Graphics Core Next architecture. The die size is pegged at 430mm^2, roughly 18% larger than Tahiti but with improved packing and efficiency allowing much more usable space. Accordingly the GPU will have up to 2814 shader units, almost 800 more than Tahiti, and a reference clock of approx 900MHz.
Also increased are the number of raster engines, up from two to four. The 384-bit memory bus width however remains unchanged, whilst memory speed is likely to remain relatively constant too. As in the case of HD7000-series cards compatible with "Powertune with Boost" technology, the R9-290X should feature some level of intelligent overclocking; it is noted that the GPU is somewhat thermally limited at the reference specs. Shaders and other components may be fused off for a R9-290 variant, roughly analogous to the HD7950 from the previous generation.
3DCenter have a relatively wide envelope for the performance level of the R9-290X due to a number of underlying assumptions. The high end places it 5-10% faster than a GTX TITAN, whereas the low-end puts the GPU more in line with a GTX 780. Either way it will be AMD's fastest GPU to date by some margin, if not quite reaching the performance heights of the dual-GPU HD7990.
The release date for the R9-290X is expected to be mid/late October, which seems a little soon if truth be told. Lower specification cards based on the same architecture will be no doubt be revealed after the generation flagship.
As with all rumours, these need to be taken with a large pinch of salt. Thankfully all, or at least most, will be revealed come Wednesday during AMD's GFX Tech Day stream.