Hardware Canucks’ web of industry contacts has been abuzz today with information that PowerColor could be launching a supposed dual HD 7970 card named the HD 7990 as early as tomorrow, at a price of about $999.
While there may still be some confusion among industry sources, after a certain amount of poking and prodding, certain bits of information began to coalesce. First and foremost, PowerColor’s HD 7990 (or Devil13 HD 7970X2 as PowerColor may call it) will be a ground up custom design which means there won’t be a reference version available to purchase nor will availability be widespread.
Hardware Canucks has learned about the possibility of less than 500 cards worldwide, some sources put the number at a mere 200. This lack of concerted availability is right in line with other custom dual GPU cards like the ASUS Ares and Sapphire HD 4850 X2, as is the astronomical price. At this point, Hardware Canucks can’t be certain about the PowerColor HD 7990’s specifications but logic dictates that it will have 6GB of GDDR5 memory (3GB per GPU) and two full Tahiti XT cores with 2084 Stream Processors each. Naturally, a large-scale custom heatsink will ensure this card runs relatively cool.
Clock speeds are the real question mark since typically dual GPU cards incorporate slightly castrated cores in order to reduce power consumption and heat output. Supposedly, PowerColor has decided to go for broke as each core will run at 925MHz with memory at 5.5Gbps which will put performance right below NVIDIA’s GTX 690. However, Hardware Canuks has been told that PowerColor will also include a secondary BIOS which allows the cores to run at 1GHz in order to nearly match the massive dual Kepler card.
Rumors have been running rampant about the possibility of AMD releasing a dual GPU HD 7990 sometime this year so this announcement was expected, albeit in a slightly different fashion. As a matter of fact, as the slide above (which was sent to Hardware Canucks before the HD 7970 launch) shows, AMD was originally predicting its availability sometime in Q1 2012. It was even given the “New Zealand” code name with previous rumors slating it to launch at Computex, GamesCon and other shows.
That launch obviously hasn’t happened so at the very least, the “official” project has been delayed, if not cancelled entirely and AMD is now allowing board partners to use the HD 7990 name. Those waiting for AMD’s official response to the GTX 690 -or a more affordable alternative for that matter- may be sorely disappointed. Instead of an official HD 7990 design, it now looks like the onus has been placed upon board partners to forge ahead with their own dual Tahiti designs. However, it remains to be seen how many AiBs have the willingness to invest in something like this right now. PowerColor is the first with the Devil 13 but there may be others and relying on board partners to design and market the HD 7990 could eventually prove to be the right thing to do.
AMD’s lack of current generation products in the dual GPU market shouldn’t come as a surprise since the challenges posed by these designs is daunting. Combining a pair of hot running, power hungry Tahiti XT cores onto a single card could result in a TDP of about 400W (and that’s being generous), require massive amounts of cooling and need highly advanced PWM engineering. That doesn’t come cheap but it looks like PowerColor is game and their HD 7990 / Devil 13 is going to take a risk on what may become an ultra expensive novelty like NVIDIA’s GTX 690.
The question remains: has AMD cancelled their New Zealand project? At this point, it looks that way.
The press is bound to hear more once an official announcement is posted.
EDIT: Hardware Canucks has leared that the price will be between $899 and $999 USD
Supposedly, the HD 7990 / HD 7970X2 Devil 13 will ship with a screwdriver kit and a Power Jack.
PICTURE OF THE CARD BELOW: