AMD announcing next-generation graphics cards this week

AMD also showed off its next-generation Llano chip for PCs, which combines a CPU and GPU in one chip

Advanced Micro Devices plans to announce its second-generation of DirectX 11 graphics cards this week, and also to show off its latest hybrid Fusion chip as the company tries to jump ahead of rivals Intel and Nvidia.

AMD on Friday will announce the Radeon HD 6800 family of graphics cards, which will be the first in the Radeon HD 6000 series, according to a company spokesman. The product will lose its ATI moniker, killing a brand name synonymous with graphics enthusiasts for around 25 years.

DirectX 11 graphics processors bring improved graphics and realistic images to PCs with the Windows 7 OS. The new graphics cards will replace the company's existing 5000 family, released by the company last year as its first DirectX 11 graphics cards. The 6800 cards will compete with Nvidia's latest Fermi offerings, which also support DirectX 11.

The company did not provide further comment on the products. However, one online retailer, Krex, has already listed an Asus graphics card based on the AMD's Radeon 6870 graphics processor. The Asus EAH6870 graphics card is overclocked to 913MHz and has AMD's Eyefinity technology, which allows six monitors to be connected to a single graphics card.

In an earnings conference call last week, AMD CEO Dirk Meyer said the company hopes to ship thousands of Radeon HD 6000 graphics cards over the next few months.

AMD also provided a sneak peek to its upcoming Llano chip for desktops and laptops, which combines a CPU and DirectX 11 GPU on one chip. The chip, which was demonstrated at the AMD Technical Forum and Exhibition in Taipei, belongs to the next-generation Fusion family of chips that could help build lighter, sleeker and more power-efficient PCs.

The graphics processor will be able to decode Blu-ray video at the same time the CPU is running an intense math application, the company said. But the CPU and GPU will also work together to accelerate certain non-graphics and data-intensive applications, according to the company.

The chip is expected to have four CPUs running at speeds over 3.0GHz. The chip will reach users in 2011, but AMD has not yet provided a specific date on when it will appear in PCs.

AMD's rival Intel has already started shipping hybrid laptop and desktop chips that combine the CPU and GPU. The chips, based on a new microarchitecture called Sandy Bridge, will appear in computers early next year.

Intel's chips will ship ahead of AMD's Llano chips. However, Meyer said that Intel's Sandy Bridge chips do not support DirectX 11, which gives its Fusion chips an edge in graphics performance.

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