On March 8, 2011, in exactly one week from now, AMD will unveil Antilles and Antilles OC, highest performning parts based on their Northern Islands GPU architecture. Under the product names Radeon HD 6990, AMD is introducing a dual-GPU part, available as Radeon HD 6990 and in special edition from several board vendors featuring even higher clocks.
These parts belong to the "King of the Hill", "Leave no Prisoner" category, intended for the most wealthy gamers out there. AMD has outdone themselves in terms of hardware design, as HD 6990 is consisted out of two Cayman GPUs ticking at 830MHz, for a grand total of 3072 cores – achieving 5.1 TFLOPS of single-precision computing power.
Contrary to previous rumors, AMD exhausts hot air through the back of the board. Four mini-DP and single DVI connector make connectivity for the new "King of AMD Hill"
According to AMD’s leaked slides, Radeon HD 6990 achieves 67% greater performance than a single GeForce GTX 580, leaving space for nVidia to beat the card with their upcoming Dual-GPU part, the upcoming GeForce GTX 590. Faced with the prospect of losing the performance crown in this segment as well, AMD delayed introduction to test the new clock speeds and offer a two-way performance increase. From one side, HD 6990 comes with a Dual BIOS feature, and switching to the second BIOS enables higher clock. From another, you’ll have several partners that will introduce limited edition parts featuring those clocks only (expect price in $899-999 range for those).
Do note that flipping a BIOS switch on the stock HD 6990 puts you of of warranty, so unless you plan to catch some serious overclocking records, standard HD 6990 clocks should do just fine. Above mentioned limited edition parts will honor the warranty, though.
The overclocked BIOS/limited edition card features both GPUs clocked to 880MHz, which should be enough to beat GTX 590. HD 6990 OC packs 5.4 TFLOPS of single-precision computational performance, i.e. the most powerful graphics board of all times (until now). To illustrate the amount of performance, this single card has more computational power than each and every personal computer on planet Earth back in 1998.
HD 6990 features 4GB of high-speed GDDR5 memory which ticks at 1.25GHz in QDR mode (5 "GHz"). Even though the card has 4GB of on-board memory, don’t expect troubles with memory addressing in 32-bit operating systems, since both GPUs see only 2GB (single GPU with more than 2GB is another story). Combined memory bandwidth stands at 320GB/s, another record on its own.
But in order to achieve that, the boards will consume more power than majority of power supplies inside mainstream PCs. HD 6990 comes with "worst case scenario" of 375 Watts, while typical power consumption during gaming will be 25W less, at 350W. But the overclocked HD 6990 brings maximum power consumption of massive 450 Watts!
If you would go for CrossfireX mode, your graphics subsystem could consume almost 1kW of power alone, meaning you need 1.6kW PSU to run it all. Then again, owning a supercar such as Bugatti Veyron requires a lot of compromises. For ultimate performance, you need ultimate components.
Updated March 2, 2011 8:40AM GMT: Following our original story, we were contacted by several board vendors and representatives of AMD who clarified the statements in the original story. AMD will be releasing HD 6990 part only, with the Dual BIOS switch mode. Several board vendors are preparing special versions, featuring overclocked parts from day one and covered under warranty. The story is now updated to reflect this information.