As we mentioned in the introduction to this article the 6800 series is not a new product from AMD, that will come later. For the 6800 series AMD took the 5800 series GPU and optimised it, improving functionality at the same time to create a GPU which has features which are now expected of GPUs as well as bringing a new performance per watt and performance per mm2 to the market.
The diagram above shows the layout of the 6800 series "Barts" core. With this refined GPU we get faster geometry and tessellation throughput thanks to the redesign and new clock speeds. In addition to that the new key features are new image quality options, UVD3 for Blu-Ray 3D acceleration, higher specification outputs and all with a maximum TDP of 150w.
The main change in terms of image quality is a new anti-aliasing mode, morphological anti-aliasing which differs from traditional methods because the filtering occurs after the frame has been rendered, rather than during the rendering. Essentially the card performs an additional shader pass on the image before displaying it.
The new filter looks for high contrast edges with pixel patterns which are common when aliasing is present, it then estimates the length and angle of the ideal edge and blends the colours for each surrounding pixel for a smoother image. Because this task requires sampling and re-sampling of similar data AMD use the GPUs local data share to improve performance.
For the improved outputs on the 6800 series manufacturers have the option of including HDMI 1.4a and DisplayPort 1.2. One of the main benefits of this is reasonably obvious, HDMI 1.4 allows us to connect the 6800 to a 3D TV and take advantage of 3D Blu-Ray.
As shown above the reference output layout for the 6800 series is also different to the 5800. As with the older generation Eyefinity is supported and manufacturers can give consumers the ability to power up to 6 displays on one 6800 series card, four more than the competitions single GPU solution and three more than the competing multi-GPU offering.
That brings us to 3D functionality, click on to the next page to see what AMD have in store for that feature.