AMD busts out 'world's fastest graphics card' at GDC

Plus unveils a new set of cloud GPUs

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Delays due to technical issues be damned: AMD had a bevy of graphics cards to unveil tonight and it wasn't going to let some set-up snags get in the way.

After an initial hold up, AMD's GDC 2013 press conference got off to an impressive start, though the company decided to save the best for last.

Just when attendees thought it was over, AMD's Devon Nekechuk, product manager for high-end graphics, broke out the never-before-seen reference design for the Radeon HD 7990.

"This is the world's first preview of this card," Nekechuck said. "This is the first public showing ever."

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Nekechuk struck a pose with the Radeon HD 7990

Rad, man

As Nekechuk noted, the dual-GPU unit shown tonight was just a preview, but he didn't skimp in piling praise on the red and black rectangle codenamed Malta.

"This packs two of our 7990 series GPUs. This is only a preview series today, so I'm going to have to hold back some of the details for you guys, but this is not only the world's fastest graphics card, this thing is whisper quiet with these three fans over here. This thing delivers massive performance and this is really the gamer's dream card."

The Radeon HD 7990 is part of the same family as other 7990s on the market, including the Asus Ares II and the PowerColor Double 13, the product manager said.

Details are sparse, and there's no word yet when we'll see its graphics prowess come to market, though AMD is expected to start shipping its new 8000 series before the year is up, putting some time squeeze on the 7990.

We do know, however, that the dual-GPU powered EA's Battlefield 4 demo during GDC, meaning that the 7990 is definitely up and running. Just not ready for the masses quite yet.

Take it to the sky

Before cameras were set a'flashing with Nekechuk's processor, AMD also revealed a new line of cloud gaming GPUs, the Radeon Sky Series.

"This is a dedicated series of graphics cards dedicated to cloud gaming," said David Cummings, general manager, professional graphics. Not just one but three products were introduced.

The Sky 900 is the beast of the bunch, housing 3584 stream processors, 6GB GDDR5 (3GB/GPU) memory and 480GB/s of memory bandwidth.

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Cummings shows off the dual-GPU Sky 900

The Sky 700 is sliced down to 1792 stream processors, 6GB GDDR5and 264GB/s, while Sky 500 runs with 1280 stream processors, 4GB GDDR5 and 154GB/s.

The cards are passively cooled, Cummings explained, a sign that the processors are meant to live in not in consumers' home but in data centers owned by enterprise.

AMD built the Sky GPUs on its Graphics Core Next architecture and worked with a number of cloud gaming partners, including CiiNow, G-Cluster, Otoy and Ubitus, to bring about a complete and powerful gaming experience.

One other takeaway: AMD revealed that BioShock: Infinite will join its Never Settle: Reloaded bundle.