AMD has thrown a new graphics chip into the ring to keep hardcore gamers happy -- the Radeon HD 6990M. It offers more polygon-pounding power than its predecessors and it's coming to a high-end gaming laptop near you soon.
With 2GB of GDDR5 graphics memory (the fastest kind) and 1,120 stream processors, the 6990M sits proudly at the top of AMD's range of mobile graphics chips. Basically, you can rest assured it will handle all the gaming you can throw at it.
Modern games are tough on GPUs. Everything in them is made up of tiny polygons, and the more of them there are, the better the image. For example, a football can be made up of polygons clumped together to form a rough circle. If it's not made of many polygons, the football will have nasty jagged edges, and will probably make you cry. If there are enough polygons, the football will look wonderfully round and totally kickable.
The problem is that munching through all those polygons while maintaining a good frame rate isn't the easiest thing to do. To run top-of-the-range games, you'll need a dedicated graphics chip with muscle, such as the 6990M.
The 6990M doesn't just help with gaming, it can also provide some extra grunt when other intensive applications need a graphics boost, such as video-editing software. It can output graphics to up to six displays at once too, although most people are unlikely to take advantage of this feature.
Although the 6990M is designed for laptops, don't think you'll necessarily be able to sit on a train playing Dragon Age 2 -- dedicated gaming laptops are generally hefty beasts with screen sizes of a least 15 inches. They're usually not the sort of machine you can slip into a backpack.
It's not certain when or where you'll see AMD's new chip -- it depends on which laptop manufacturers want to slap it inside their machines. It won't be too long before it surfaces somewhere, though. We'll put it through its paces just as soon as we can.