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Introducing AMD’s Radeon Mobility 7400M, 7500M, and 7600M

Traditionally AMD and NVIDIA have launched their new series of graphics products at the high-end and worked their way down. This means launching products like Cypress (Radeon HD 5800 series) and GF100 (GeForce 470/480) first, and following it up with smaller products like Redwood (Radeon HD 5600 series) and GF106 (GeForce 450) later. This owes to the fact that high-end GPUs are the flag bearers of a generation, with new architectures being built on these large chips first before lesser products are derived from them. As a consequence of building the biggest chips first, new architectures have always launched on the desktop first and have come to the mobile space later once the lesser derivatives were ready.

Today AMD will be launching their first Radeon HD 7000 series products, and in a significant deviation from normal they’re starting on the mobile side first. We’ve had some indication that this would happen—AMD chose to demo the mobile version of their 28nm GPU instead of the desktop version back in September—so this confirms AMDs intentions. However the 7000M series launching today is not quite what we had in mind.

We expected Southern Island products based on TSMC’s new HKMG 28nm process, but the fact of the matter is that TSMC’s HKMG 28nm process is running late—yields and production capacity just aren’t good enough for the production of high volume retail products for 2011. We may yet see some kind of 28nm product before the year is out so that AMD meets their stated commitment, but a complete 28nm launch in 2011 is off the table. However, AMD is concerned they need to launch new mobile products at the end of this year whether they have new GPUs or not, meaning they need to make do with what they already have.

As a consequence we’re facing another rebadging situation: the 7000M series launching today is based on AMD’s Turks and Caicos GPUs, the same GPUs that make up part of the 6000M series. Thus AMD may technically be launching the 7000 series today, but it’s the 7000 series in name only. The launch of the 28nm Southern Islands architecture will happen soon enough, but it won’t be happening today. Ignore the product number—if you wanted to see new GPUs from AMD [cue Obi-Wan], these aren’t the GPUs you’re looking for.

Naming shenanigans aside, the particularly frustrating part of all of this is that what was already a two architecture series just became a three architecture series. At the high-end we will of course see Graphics Core Next, AMD’s next-generation architecture intended to move the company away from VLIW. Meanwhile for integrated GPUs AMD’s Trinity will be using a VLIW4 design derived from AMD’s 6900 series Cayman GPU, and at the same time it stands to reason that at least some of AMD’s 7000 series will be VLIW4 in order to have something to CrossFire with Trinity. However, with the latest addition of Turks and Caicos on the 7000M, VLIW5 just got thrown into the mix and any kind of consistency just went out the window.

The one silver lining here is that even with the architecture differences, AMD’s VLIW5 architecture is still a modern architecture. Compute performance is lacking compared to the latest and greatest, but from a graphics perspective GCN, VLIW4, and VLIW5 are all Direct3D 11+ designs. The launch of Direct3D 11.1 will shake this up later next year—particularly if GCN is a D3D 11.1 design—but thankfully there won’t be a massive feature gap like we’ve seen in the past with other rebadging efforts. The graphics feature set will be mostly consistent, even if the underlying architectures are not.

With the above discussion out of the way, let’s hit the actual feature and spec sheets for the 7000M parts launching today. We’re including some information from the existing 6000M lineup as a reference point, and because we don’t have specifics on the actual models that are launching. If the past is anything to go by, we’d expect two or three models (maybe even four) in each series (e.g. the 6430M, 6450M, 6470M, and 6490M are all part of the 6400M lineup).

AMD Mobility Radeon 7400M, 7500M, and 7600M Lineup
  Radeon HD 7600M Radeon HD 6750M Radeon HD 7500M Radeon HD 6630M Radeon HD 7400M Radeon HD 6470M
Core Name Whistler Pro (?) Whistler Pro Whistler LT (?) Whistler LT Seymore XT (?) Seymore XT
Stream Processors 480 480 480 480 160 160
Texture Units 24 24 24 24 8 8
ROPs 8 8 8 8 4 4
Core Clock 600MHz 485MHz 700MHz
Memory Clock GDDR5/DDR3 900MHz (3.6GHz) GDDR5 GDDR5/DDR3 800MHz (1.6GHz) DDR3 GDDR5/DDR3 800MHz (1.6GHz) DDR3
Memory Bus Width 128-bit 128-bit 64-bit 128-bit 64-bit 64-bit
Memory Bandwidth 57.6GB/s 25.6GB/s 12.8GB/s

Unfortunately, the details for the new 7000M parts are lacking right now—all we have to go on is the general configuration. We would assume the newer 7000M parts will have slightly higher clocks than the 6000M parts they’re replacing, but we really can’t say much more than that. All the current 7000M parts have the ability to support DDR3 or GDDR5 memory, and we expect to see higher-end models with GDDR5 and more budget friendly offerings with DDR3.

The most interesting (and not necessarily in a good way) series is the 7500M, which looks to straddle the ground between the entry-level 7400M and the more capable 7600M. It combines the 480 core GPU of the 7600M with the 64-bit memory interface of the 7400M. The goal is to bring prices down on mainstream hardware, but unless pricing is significantly lower the loss of memory bandwidth is going to hurt. Of course, the GDDR5 equipped models can provide the same bandwidth over a 64-bit bus as a DDR3 model with a 128-bit bus, but we’ll have to wait and see what laptops actually ship with the GPUs and how much they cost before we can come to any firm conclusions.

And that sums it up. AMD is launching 7000M GPUs today at the entry-level and midrange segments, but it’s only a rebadging of existing 6000M GPUs. We assume there will be some increased core clocks on the higher end SKUs, but overall there’s no significant change to the performance on tap.

NVIDIA’s GeForce 600M Parts
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  • MrSpadge - Wednesday, December 07, 2011 - link

    It's another case of "If it looks the same, how will people know I've upgraded?"
    This time it's the laptop OEMs, not some consumer standing in the queue.

    MrS
    Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Wednesday, December 07, 2011 - link

    You've hit the nail on the head.

    Laptop OEMs are already launching their 2012 products, and even though they don't have any new hardware to work with (versus whatever they launched 6 months ago), they need "newer" products. It's very similar to how car manufacturers operate.

    So AMD and NVIDIA are obliging them, hence the rehash for the 7000M and 600M series. It doesn't really excuse this mess, but the customer gets what the customer wants.
    Reply
  • mariush - Thursday, December 08, 2011 - link

    Laptop/netbook manufacturers want new models when the new versions of their laptops are made... sort of like the clothes with the spring-summer releases and autumn-winter collections.

    They just want bullet points on pages, differentiating their new laptops from the old stock - they don't care if they're faster, better and they certainly don't care what company they order from so both companies are pressured into releasing something, anything, just to keep their contracts and move stuff.
    Reply
  • Pantsu - Wednesday, December 07, 2011 - link

    Laptop makers want new models, Nvidia and AMD can't provide them, hence they rename old chips. TSMC just isn't ready with 28 nm.

    Hopefully these rebadgings at least drop the prices a bit, but then again we'll never know that, only whether they'll show up in cheaper laptops.

    Looks like there's bound to be supply issues with new 28 nm desktop GPUs when they actually release them. What a surprise.
    Reply
  • gevorg - Wednesday, December 07, 2011 - link

    ... they had to fail in mobile GPU line too Reply
  • tipoo - Wednesday, December 07, 2011 - link

    The mobile lineup using last generation chips is nothing new. I'm pretty sure the GTX500M series is based on 400 series parts, if I'm not mistaken. Still waiting for the *real* new cards. Reply
  • xxtypersxx - Wednesday, December 07, 2011 - link

    Actually, 500 series parts are substantially improved over the 400 series parts as they benefit from chip refinement and the addition of Nvidia's 3rd transistor type to lower power draw and heat. Performance doesn't change a ton, but they are certainly more different than anything we see the two companies announcing today. Reply
  • TerdFerguson - Wednesday, December 07, 2011 - link

    AMD and NV have been ripping consumers off with these same designs for quite some time, now. Instead of regularly bringing out new, higher performing, products that replace older models at the same price while greatly improving performance, they give us new incarnations of old tech. I understand the concept of binning, but they've been selling hobbled versions of their $600 flagship boards across the entire product line for so long now that it is just absolutely repugnant. I honestly hope and pray that Intel's upcoming integrated graphics parts are good enough (and they don't need to be much better) to light a fire under the stagnant, price-fixing, hegemons of the graphics industry. Reply
  • bji - Wednesday, December 07, 2011 - link

    Ripping people off because they don't produce products on a time schedule and with a price that you approve of? That's ridiculous.

    If the graphics industry is stagnant, it's because the market is shrinking. Most people are happy with their consoles or with console-level performance on their desktop. Fewer people are willing to pay more money to increase the resolution that they can run their game at when the difference in enjoyment of the game is negligeable.

    Also the suggestion that Intel's integrated graphics are even *close* to being able to compete with any flagship product from AMD or NVidia is also ridiculous.

    AMD already produces an integrated graphics solution that is far, far better than anything Intel can produce, and is likely to produce in the forseeable future; it's what's in the A-series of AMD CPU.
    Reply
  • AlB80 - Wednesday, December 07, 2011 - link

    Look at the die size and you understood VLIW5 (32-bit) is the most effective architecture. And also it's modern. Reply

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