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AMD 8000M mobile graphics announced – gearing up for CES reveal

AMD's 8000M mobile graphics chips have just been made official, but we'll have to wait until CES in January to get our first look at them

AMD’s 8000M mobile graphics card line-up has been partially revealed, ahead of a full announcement at CES in January. Now completely based on AMD’s Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture, the 28nm silicon will support DirectX 11.1 and Enduro graphics switching technology, as well as PCI Express 3.0.

Whereas last year’s mobile GPUs were mostly based on the Terascale architecture, with only the extreme HD 7970M using the same GCN core as AMD’s desktop graphics cards, this year’s line-up has made the jump completely – bringing with it lower power consumption and improved GPGPU capabilities.

AMD 8000M graphics

AMD will initially launch four different models, but the company wasn’t ready to talk to us about its high-end chips launching next year. Instead, it focused this early first look on the mainstream 8500M and 8600M, and mid-range 8700M and 8800M GPUs.

The 8500M, 8600M and 8700M all have 384 stream processors and will come with various memory capacities using either DDR3 and GDDR5. Core clock speeds of 650Mhz, 775Mhz and 850Mhz respectively should mean they comfortably outperform last year’s equivalent models by between 20 and 50 per cent.

AMD 8000M graphics

More high-end laptops will use the 8800M. It has significantly more stream processors (640 of them, to be exact), clocked between 650 and 700Mhz, and will support GDDR5 memory only. As a baseline indicator of its performance, AMD pitted it against Nvidia’s current mid-range mobile GPU, the GT 650M – the 8870M outperformed it in every test, by a margin of 20-70% times.

AMD 8000M graphics

These early numbers are a helpful indicator of what to expect, but they don’t tell us if next year’s ultra-slim laptops will be able to play Crysis 3 – AMD has yet to reveal performance figures in terms of frames per second, which leads us to believe the company is hoping to squeeze a bit more power from the chips using driver updates between now and January where they will be on the show floor at CES.

One major downside to the new silicon is that it isn’t backwards compatible with AMD Trinity APUs – although an 8000M series GPU will work in a Trinity-powered laptop, it won’t be able to use Crossfire dual-GPU scaling as the two components use different architecture.

Although AMD says the first 8000M-equipped laptops will begin shipping in the new year, eager customers on the continent can get their hands on one a little earlier – German online retailer Cyberport is currently listing an Asus VivoBook U38DT for €800, with units shipping on the 27th of December. It has an AMD A8-4555M processor running at 2.4GHz, 4GB of memory, a 500GB hard disk and Radeon HD 8550M dedicated graphics. We’ll be waiting for compatible laptops to arrive in the UK before bringing you a full review, but expect to hear more once we’ve had a hands-on at CES next month.

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