If you had been looking for a flagship AMD card over the last month or so, it was likely a frustrating experience. For the most part, availability for the HD 6970 in regular retail channels is currently next to none while the HD 6990 is virtually impossible to find. Even the HD 6950 1GB and 2GB cards have faded in and out of availability for the last week or so.
A quick check of retailers shows Newegg.com with a single XFX HD 6970 model on tap along with eight listed as “Out of Stock” and NCIX has fared little better with only one model readily available. Even the mighty Amazon is feeling the pinch with availability for its three in-stock cards running around the single digit mark while most other HD 6970s are either listed as out of stock or only available in 3-4 weeks.
The HD 6990 is another matter altogether. While these particular cards were never produced in large quantities, AMD’s flagship single PCB card seems to have been all but discontinued since searches of Amazon, NCIX and Newegg all came up empty. Now to be fair, NVIDIA’s own GTX 590 is also MIA in the retail channels so the problem isn’t only limited to AMD cards.
This couldn’t come at a worse time for AMD since back to school purchases are well underway. Meanwhile, finding a GTX 570 –the HD 6970’s spiritual competitor- or even GTX 580 hasn’t posed any problem whatsoever even though sales of those cards have from all indicators stayed strong.
So what’s going on here? The rumor mill has been buzzing about the possibility of new cards on the horizon, a lack of manufacturing capacity and even increased demand due to BitCoin mining. According to AMD, the reasons behind this situation are a bit more rudimentary than some would have you believe:
We’re pleased to see that demand for our 6900 series products remain very strong. The shortfall of some of these parts you’ve seen is only temporary – more supply is going into the channel in the next 2-3 weeks, and you will start seeing products more readily available imminently.
So there you have it: increased demand (and from what we have heard through the grape vine; a slight component shortage) has resulted in lower inventories and we’ll likely see the cards back in the channel in a few weeks time. Whether or not that means more HD 6990 inventory is anyone’s guess at this point.
Plus, for those of you in the market for a mid-range HD 6950, the situation has already drastically improved in the last few days and the cards are now readily available.