We all knew that AMD were going to launch the 7000 series graphics cards, but not many anticipated that it would be quite this soon, with AMD bringing the date forward from the 9th January 2012 to 22nd December 2011. By AMD bringing the date forward, the major downside to this is that it doesn't give us much time as writers to get you the very best content possible, as we have to aim to test the card to its full capacity in a limited time frame, so that we're ready for launch.
That aside, we are pleased to tell you that the 7000 series is here, or at least the 7970 is, with a reference design, while 7950 and 7970 partner cards will still be launched on 9th January 2012, so be sure to look out for that one. Not a lot of information was leaked about the 7970, but if previous card launches were anything to go by, we had a feeling that this could go horribly wrong and we say that for two main reasons. Generally when AMD launch a graphics card, they forget a vital thing, and that is to actually have the cards to launch. That involves making sure the reviewers have the cards, and so that stock is plentiful in stores and sadly this has happened again, but without digressing too much, we find one major flaw that tends to hiccup every time; rebadging.
When we've seen cards launch before, we've typically seen a bit of a rehash of an older card, much like we saw with the 5770/6770 and 5850/6850 and generally when they have launched, the performance has been slightly worse, so you can understand our downward view when we heard about the 7970.
From looking at the architecture however, it does seem that this card is a little bit different with a completely new GPU core and new technologies to back it up, and I can honestly say, from a first glance, it does seem as though AMD are learning from their mistakes.
The new GPU, codenamed "Tahiti" is part of the "Southern Islands" range of graphics cores and is now currently dubbed as their flagship graphics card with the 7970. Other cards are due to be released in the near future and with January 9th becoming ever so close to the present, we should see the 7970 being customised with different coolers and unique overclocks, but for now, let's take a look at the reference Radeon 7970 from AMD.