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AMD unveils ‘Hawaii’ line of Radeon R7, R9 series of graphics cards

AMD’s GCN-powered R7 and R9 series of Radeon GPUs promise to be the the first step in homogenizing console and PC gaming.


AMD unveiled a quintuple of new video cards in its R7 and R9 series at a high profile press event in Honolulu.

This “Hawaii Islands” line of cards is powered by the second-generation of AMD’s Graphics Core Next architecture. The R9 line of cards is targeted towards performance users, while the R7 line is for those on a budget.

AMD did not announce a firm release date for the cards, but it has disclosed some of the pricing – the entry level R7 250 with 1GB of DRAM and a 2,000 score on 3DMark FireStrike goes for $87, while on the high-end the R9 280X with 3GB of memory and a 6,800 score on FireStrike retails for $380.

While details on the top of the line R9 290X were sparse, AMD did tease a few nuggets of information. The company said that the card will contain six billion transistors, can push up to 5 GFLOPS of compute, and has up to 300GB/s of memory bandwidth.

AMD has yet to announce a street price for the top tier R9 290X, but its available for pre-order on October 3 so pricing information should be out soon. There is also a special bundle deal with Battlefield 4.

The three pillars of Hawaii

As AMD’s Matt Skynner explained on stage, the Hawaii line is marked by it’s “three pillars”: the Graphics Core Next architecture (which supports Direct X 11.2), optimization for 4K displays, and support for a next-generation audio engine called AMD TrueAudio.

Out of the three pillars, the most interesting development is the TrueAudio technology — a fully programmable GPU-powered audio engine. AMD likens this development, and the creativity it will allow, to the development of the first fully programmable graphics shaders.

“I believe that True Audio technology will provide the same artistic freedom to audio artists at these gaming companies,” AMD’s Raja Koduri said on stage.

AMD said that the who’s who of game developers have signed on to support the TrueAudio engine, and one of the first games to use the technology will be Eidos’ upcoming Thief.

More details on the R7 and R9 series of cards are expected soon.

Check back later for more from AMD’s press event.

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