AMD Launches the HD 7000M; Mobile Market Déjà Vu?
Competition in the mobile graphics market is fierce these days. Unlike the mid to high end desktop segment where AMD and NVIDIA pretty much own the show, they are both facing increased pressure from the likes of Intel’s Sandy Bridge and upcoming Ivy Bridge architectures along with AMD’s very own Fusion products. Indeed, the dawn of more powerful IGPs integrated onto the CPU die has already killed off a few entry level discrete mobile architectures. Yet just like in the desktop market, there are still some areas in which value-oriented, mid range and higher end graphics processors still reign supreme.
For the most part when manufacturers fight tooth and nail against each other, consumers end up benefitting from lower prices and clearly defined product categories. Unfortunately, the same can’t really be said about all things portable since the possibility of winning or losing in this space is largely determined by large system integrators like Dell and Acer rather than direct end user purchases. The result is a sometimes bewildering array of individual discrete graphics processors (particularly at the entry and mainstream levels) which have been tailor made to fit within a set of specifications that can vary from one client to the next. To put this into perspective, AMD’s mobile HD6000-series lineup had about twenty different models while the desktop received just eleven separate products.
In order to keep up with the Jones’ and offer something “new”, today AMD is introducing the first batch of their HD 7000 series of mobile GPUs: the HD 7600M, HD 7500M and HD 7400M. However, before you go and get all excited about the name, let’s just say these may not be the graphics processors you originally thought they would be…
From a high level view and fitting with AMD’s current nomenclature, each of these brands will contain a subset of different parts with the xx90, xx70, xx50, xx30 designation. This makes for a total of twelve different HD 7000M parts being available from the get go and they should hit nearly every level of the value, mainstream and ultra light performance segments. With that being said none of this is anything new per se since AMD has just repurposed their 40nm Turks and Caicos architectures -more commonly known as the HD 6700M, HD 6600M and HD 6400M- for use here. Alternately the cores themselves have also been called Whistler and Seymore.
Starting at the top we have the Turks-based HD 7600M which is targeted directly at the thin and light performance market which is populated with the likes of Sony’s Vaio Z. With an efficient TDP and 480 Steam processors, it has the some great potential while retaining the ability to fit into lower profile chassis.
The HD 7500M cards meanwhile will likely be the ones we see the most of since they are meant to combine the media acceleration power of a discrete card with a relatively small energy consumption footprint. Every one of the HD 7500 GPUs are also based off of the Turks core but AMD has significantly cut back on the memory interface in order to decrease power consumption while maintaining mass market appeal.
Last but not least is the Caicos-based HD 7400M series which are firmly targeted towards the value-oriented segment but are still a (small) step above the performance of AMD’s mobile Llano APUs. Expect to see these in everything from budget friendly small form factor PCs to sub-$600 notebooks. It is also important to note that we won’t see a continuation or rebranding of the 6300M series and its entry level Cedar architecture since it will likely be phased out in favor of AMD’s mobile A-series Llano APUs.
While these new mobile graphics processors are based off of an existing architecture, that doesn’t mean they come up short in the features department. With support for DisplayPort 1.2, HDMI 1.4a and Eyefinity, they have everything someone could possibly want in terms of output options but don’t all of these on every notebook that sports an HD 7000M GPU. AMD’s excellent Universal Video Decoder 3.0 also has an encore presentation along with its Blu Ray 3D support and MPEG-4 Part 2 hardware acceleration for DivX and Xvid codecs, making these GPUs A great choice for multimedia environments.
Believe it or not, for the time being that’s the extent of what AMD was willing to share about the HD 7000M series. While the information may have been slim, we’re not surprised since the initial offerings in this series are essentially rebrands of past architectures. They only exist as a system integrator-driven way to ensure that AMD’s entire lineup bears the same naming scheme. Though the current HD 7000M cards certainly won’t shake up the competition, they represent the first sign that a brand new architecture from AMD is right around the corner.
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