Nordic Hardware claims many of the recent rumors about AMD's upcoming GPUs are wrong and published an article with all the details they could dig up regarding the upcoming Radeon HD 6800 series.
Contrary to the DigiTimes rumor from earlier today that spoke about a delay until November, Nordic Hardware claims the Radeon HD 6850 and 6870 graphics cards will be released on October 18th. Both cards are based on the Barts GPU, and the site confirms the rumor that the Radeon HD 6800 will target the mid-range market, while the successor to the Radeon HD 5800 series will be the Radeon HD 6900 (Caymen) series, with a dual-GPU part named Radeon HD 6990 (Antilles).
The naming scheme has become a bit more confusing, and the site heard NVIDIA's decision to launch the GF104 GPU as part of the GeForce GTX 400 series is the reason why AMD decided to follow and move up its mid-range cards in the hierarchy. The Radeon HD 6850 and Radeon HD 6870 are classified as mid-range parts but they still pack quite a lot of punch, the Radeon HD 6850 will be faster than the Radeon HD 5830 and the Radeon HD 6870 will beat the Radeon HD 5850.
The Radeon HD 6870 will be a pure reference product, while the Radeon HD 6850 will see many custom variants.
AMD Radeon HD 6850 (Barts Pro) and HD 6870 (Barts XT) will launch on October 18th (19th in some countries) and the new Northern Islands architecture is tuned and optimized for better performance per watt. We should not expect any revolutionary improvements over current models, but more on that soon.
Barts will bring at most 960 stream processors, which should be proof enough that this is a mid-range circuit, and not to play with the big boys. Little brother Radeon HD 6850 will settle for 800 stream processors and lower clock frequency, but AMD has also revised the texture units and efficiency of the stream processors, which makes the numbers a bit misleading when compared directly to previous generations.