Keeping up with desktop gaming hardware is a never-ending quest - and it never hurts to take some shortcuts. So rejoice, GPU enthusiasts: an early preview of the next generation of Radeon cards has been posted by EXPreview. The center of the lineup, the HD 7870 and 7850 cards, have been detailed, using the new Pitcairn processor architecture. The cards use the same 28 nanometer fabrication process, but more memory and other slight speed increases.
On to the good stuff: according to the leak, the Radeon HD 7850 will operate at a core speed of 900mhz with a full gigabyte of GDDR5 RAM, while the 7870 bumps it up to 950mhz and 2GB at a slightly faster speed of 1375mhz. The 7850 gets 20 graphics CoreNext compute units and 1280 stream processors, while the 7870 bumps it up to 22 compute units and 1408 stream processors. The 7850 gets 80 Texture Mapping Units and the 7870 gets 88, but both cards share 24 render output processors and a 256-bit memory bus. Note that the photo above is a generic HD 7770.
Of course all of these specifications are unofficial, and even if they're 100% accurate, it's just the reference card. Expect GPU manufacturers to soup up the silicon with overclocked processors, more and faster RAM, gigantic cooling units and the like. Basic cards are expected to hit the retail market in March, with the Crossfire versions and other modifications coming out a few weeks to a couple of months later.
(Fun fact: Pitcairn is the name of the smallest democracy in the world, a tiny island in the South Pacific populated by descendants of mutineers from the HMS Bounty.)
[via Tom's Hardware]