Often something unexpected happens, even on the IT market, and Advanced Micro Devices has definitely taken the world by surprise when it leaked the specifications of the flagship Volcanic Islands GPU.
The Sea Islands range of graphics processing units will power the Radeon HD 8000 series graphics cards, and has already been used in accelerated processing units like Richland.
It isn't supposed to reach the market before the second half of 2013 though, or even later, in 2014.
That is why it might come as a shock to learn the specifications of the best Volcanic Islands GPU, although that shock may be nothing compared to the rumor that Volcanic Islands will arrive before the year is out.
The report was made by ChipHell and seems to suggest that AMD will skip Sea Islands completely, at least insofar as the discrete GPU and add-in board industry is concerned.
The GPUs will be designed with the 20nm Gate-Last process from TSMC or Common Platform Alliance, assuming no problems arise that force 28nm to be used again.
The Hawaii graphics core (though Reykjavik and Honolulu are two other possible codenames) will be the best of the lot and will replace the Tahiti used in Radeon HD 7900 adapters.
The Volcanic Islands-based series of AiBs would bear the series moniker of Radeon 9000 series.
Thus, the flagship single-chip model will be dubbed Radeon HD 9970.
We're not sure about the specs of the card itself, like memory amount, VRAM frequency, ports, etc.
What we do have is the bare list of GPU specs. The 20nm chip has 4,096 Stream Processors, four geometry engines, 16 SPUs (serial processor units), 256 TMUs, 64 ROPs and a GDDR5 interface of 512 bits.
True, all this comes from a very blurry block diagram which should be taken with a grain of salt, but it is better than nothing.
Update May 9, 2013: Uploaded a larger, legible diagram. Thanks go to Wynix.