The Pirate Islands graphics processing units, and the Radeon Rx 300 series graphics cards based on them, have not really been released yet, but Advanced Micro Devices is already building the products that will come after.
In truth, this is not quite as shocking as it sounds. IT players always draw their roadmaps to account for several of the upcoming years.
Also, a GPU concept takes years to devise, and months or years more to make reality. In that time, the next stage in a technological evolution starts, as Moore's Law and demands.
So, even though AMD hasn't launched the Pirate Islands series of graphics processing units, it's not quite a shock to learn that the successor line is in the works.
Advanced Micro Devices has made no statements to that effect, but website SweClockers has released a report about it.
Since the Pirate Islands is the name convention assigned to the upcoming collection of Radeon Rx 300 video boards, a different moniker had to be selected for the 2016-bound generation.
Arctic Islands is that moniker, according to the report. This could suggest a new kind of cooling technology, perhaps like the hybrid air+water cooling used in the R9 295X2.
Or it could just be a name convention meant to sound fitting in the context provided by its predecessors (Southern Islands, Sea Islands, Volcanic Islands, Pirate Islands).
In any case, the GPUs should be designed for either the 16 nm or 14nm FinFET fabrication process technology, which means much higher efficiency than 28nm.
Globalfoundries will likely handle the manufacturing, since AMD appears to have cut ties with TSMC after repeated failure to ramp new nm nodes on time.
Potential chip names include New Siberian XT, Wrangel XT, Herald XT, maybe even Victoria? There are many islands in the Arctic Ocean. Unless AMD meant that all islands near the arctic circles are up for grabs, in which case we're better off not even trying to guess.
Since the Radeon R9 390X/380X is supposed to appear in a matter of weeks, if not less, we can assume that the Radeon Rx 400 will debut in the first quarter of 2016.
What's left now is to see if any leak about NVIDIA's 2016 plans occurs in what remains of this week. The general policy of “we must not be overshadowed” will have to be enforced somehow after all.