AMD's rumoured new HD 7790 silicon gets named: Bonnaire XT

Before Nvidia launched the GTX Titan wündercard, AMD held a bullish press briefing to bang the Radeon drum, claiming “performance leadership at every pricepoint”. Not only that, but they were also promising additional silicon in the first half of this year with a new range of products coming around by the end of 2013.

We're now hearing rumours from various sources about what exactly that new silicon is going to be, and it's apparently called the Bonnaire XT and will be our first taste of AMD's Graphics Core Next (GCN) 2.0 architecture.

The first card with the Bonnaire GPU inside will be the Radeon HD 7790, and is designed to bridge the small gap between the HD 7770 and HD 7850 cards. Some early benchmarks have pegged general gaming performance to be around 10% lower than the HD 7850, and considering there really isn't much of a price gap between the HD 7770 and the two HD 7850 1GB and 2GB models it almost feels like a bit of an unnecessary new market point.

Then there's the touted GCN 2.0 architecture. I'd hesitate before getting too excited about it just yet - as far as I've been led to believe the GCN 2.0 moniker (first given to the HD 8000M series mobile chips) doesn't necessarily allude to a real change in architecture. Instead it (confusingly) just denotes the second range of GPUs using the first iteration of Graphics Core Next tech.

Some sources suggest the Bonnaire XT chip is running at over 1GHz with 768 Radeon Cores and 2GB GDDR5. Fudzilla meanwhile has the core count at 896, which would make it much more competitive with the 1024 count of the HD 7850. These rumoured specs put it very much in between the Cape Verde and Pitcairn GPUs of the HD 7770 and HD 7850 respectively.

It's going to be interesting to see just how competitive this Radeon HD 7790 is going to be compared with the higher GPU spec, but lower framebuffer count, of the HD 7850 1GB - the card that, for my money, is going to be its main rival.

Dave James
Managing Editor, Hardware

Dave has been gaming since the days of Zaxxon and Lady Bug on the Colecovision, and code books for the Commodore Vic 20 (Death Race 2000!). He built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 16, and finally finished bug-fixing the Cyrix-based system around a year later. When he dropped it out of the window. He first started writing for Official PlayStation Magazine and Xbox World many decades ago, then moved onto PC Format full-time, then PC Gamer, TechRadar, and T3 among others. Now he's back, writing about the nightmarish graphics card market, CPUs with more cores than sense, gaming laptops hotter than the sun, and SSDs more capacious than a Cybertruck.