It's been a long time coming, and Advanced Micro Devices definitely clamored about it wherever and whenever they could: The Hawaii graphics processing unit from the Volcanic Islands line is now out, and so is the Radeon R9 290X graphics card based on it.Hawaii is the first in a new collection of chips, the other two being Hawaii Pro and Hawaii XT, which will arrive around October.
On that note, the first video card powered by the new chip, and the flagship graphics adapter for that matter, might not ship right away either. We'll know for sure after watching retailers for the next 24 hours.
That said, AMD is really proud of the Radeon R9 290X, despite how the Hawaii is still a 28 nm GPU like Tahiti, and how NVIDIA's GeForce GTX Titan (which it is being compared to) has been selling for months and isn't so far behind.
Then again, NVIDIA isn't about to launch a Titan replacement, so this newfound performance supremacy will last AMD for a while.
Then, there's the fact that, barring a single test in Crysis 3, benchmarks have, thus far, shown AMD's new wonder card as being superior to Titan, despite not having mature drivers.
Obviously, reviewers will have the final say, so some surprises might still be in store for us. But even if, say, the incredible happens and Titan holds its own (despite the new drivers AMD prepared for the Hawaii-based card), there is one clear advantage AMD has here: price.
Simply put, the Radeon R9 290X won't ask you to pay $1,000 / €1,000. Instead, it will be selling for closer to $600 / €600, despite being better. But then again, AMD has a thing for making cheaper CPUs/APUs than Intel and video boards than NVIDIA.
Now we can only wonder what price AMD's GeForce GTX 780 equivalent will be if they can make a Titan replacement for $400 / €400 less.
We took the liberty of embedding the live feed of the Hawaii launch event below (it's actually been there, teasing us, for over a day). Later, we should have some official photos and further info to share, like whether or not a new Never Settle game bundle is coming. For now, we'll leave you with the specifications:
Radeon R9 290X:
-11 CUs (compute units)
-44 SMIDs (11 per CU)
-2,816 stream processors
-176 TMUs (Texture Mapping Units)
-44 ROPs (Raster Operating Units)
-4GB GDDR VRAM (6GB models will come later)
-a 5+1+1 phase design (5 Phase Core and 1 Phase memory)
-2 x DVI ports
-1 x HDMI
-1 x DisplayPort
-8-Pin plus 6-Pin power connectors (300W TDP)