There were fears that the Radeon HD 8000M series of graphics processing units from Advanced Micro Devices were only rebrands of the HD 7000M series, but they can finally be laid to rest.
The Sunnyvale, California-based CPU, APU and GPU makers will only release the HD 8000M series, otherwise known as Solar System, at the 2013 edition of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2013, January 8-11).
That means that shipments of laptops equipped with them, such as a certain ASUS VivoBook ultrabook, could begin as early as the second week of January.
A press deck published by Engadget shows four so-called GPU sub-series: HD 8500M, 8600M, 8700M and 8800M.
All of them, save for the last, are designed with the Graphics Core Next architecture (GCN) and feature 384 Stream Processors and DirectX 11.1 support.
The HD 8500M has an engine clock of up to 650 MHz, a single precision floating point performance of 537 GigaFLOPS, a double precision performance of 33 GFLOPS and a memory clock speed of up to 1,125 MHz (GDDR5) or 1,000 MHz (DDR3).
The second GPU, HD 8600M, is a 775 MHz chip with the same memory specs, and 633/39 GFLOPS single/double precision performance.
Thirdly, the Radeon HD 8700M is a 650-850 MHz chip, a variable memory speed (1,100-1,125 MHz GDDR5, or 1,000 MHz DDR3), and variable floating point performance (537-691 / 33-42 GFLOPS single/double precision).
Finally, the Radeon HD 8800M, the strongest of the lot, is a 650-700 MHz processor with 640 Stream Processors, 1125 MHz memory clock speed (only GDDR5 is supported) and a floating point performance of 992/52 GFLOPS (single/double precision).
All four newcomers have the Enduro Technology, which, like NVIDIA's Optimus, knows when to switch between the chips and the integrated GPUs of whatever CPU or APU happens to act as the heart of the laptop.
The AMD ZeroCore power technology can even turn off the GPUs completely when graphics processing loads are very low.
For those who want context, the Radeon HD 8870 is said to beat the NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 650M GDDR5. AMD claims a 20-45% advantage over rival units, but we won't know for sure how true any of this is until next year.