AMD has reached a new milestone in the development of the graphics card architecture Southern Islands. The new architecture is expected to launch as Radeon HD 7000 and taped out back in February and is ready for test manufacturing. Even though AMD is estimated to be ready by the end of Summer the right manufacturing technology is missing.

The information published at Semi Accurate claims AMD had the first Southern Islands circuits ready for tests six weeks ago and if we follow the time schedule from previous launches counting evaluations, mass production and graphics card evaluations the new Radeon HD 7000 series would be ready for launch by the end of July. That is if everything goes as planned and that it keeps to the same schedule as with Northern Islands and Evergreen.

AMD, and NVIDIA for that matter, has a big problem though. They are completely in the hands of the circuit maker that is still struggling to complete its 28nm process. Once again it is TSMC that can become the great culprit as rumors claims the development of its 28nm HKMG (High-K Metal Gate) technology is advancing slowly. Most of your probably remember the big problems TSMC had with its 40nm process, something it trumped by throwing out the 32nm node from its roadmaps.

AMD Radeon HD 6990 with dual Cayman XT GPUs

GlobalFoundries is expected to take over parts of the AMD’s 28nm manufacturing the coming year and may very well be in phase with TSMC when it comes to starting up the 28nm manufacturing, but right now it looks like Radeon HD 7000 is completely in the hands of the circuit makers. The design and the first products are expected to be rady for Q3 2011, but when the 28nm technology stands ready it will dictate the launch date.

In Q4 AMD is expected to launch its first mobile 28nm GPUs and hopefully the first desktop GPUs will be out befor that.

There are no concrete details surrounding the Southern Islands architecture, but most likely we are dealing with a not too astonishing generation shift where AMD has already given its new VLIW4 architecture a spin with the Cayman GPU. This will continue with Radeon HD 7000 that will become an overall more efficient and performance optimized version. We also hope there will be some surprises, and a more recent launch date.


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