AMD's expected graphics range-topper, the Radeon HD 6970, surfaced over the weekend with some of the earliest specs and photos. The card should be a single-chip design and should pack 1,536 stream (visual effects) processors, or slightly less than the 1,600 of the 5870; performance should get faster with 96 texture units versus the older hardware's 80. It may be the first reference design, single-chip mainstream video hardware to have 2GB of RAM onboard, according to Fudzilla's anonymous sources.
The photos from a Zol forum don't confirm more than the block-like cooling on the board, but the official AMD card is designed to carry two DVI ports, two Mini DisplayPort connectors and HDMI. Its thermal design may be an issue, as it may have thermal peak power less than NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 580 but has the potential to use more.
Release timing for the 6970 isn't certain and may be in flux. One leak has claimed that chip yield problems at AMD's manufacturing partner, TSMC, have prevented the new Radeon from shipping for an intended end of November release. With less than 10 percent of 6970 chips at an acceptable quality, AMD can't make enough stock, TechEye said. The slip may push the faster 6000-series card into early 2011 and leave just the Radeon HD 6870 as the most recent graphics component.