Rumors emerged on Asian tech site ChipHell that claim that AMD has shipped engineering samples of the Radeon HD 9970 to add-in board (AIB) partners Sapphire.
The Radeon HD 8000 series will reportedly be skipped as AMD already used the 8000 naming scheme for some rebranded OEM parts. The Radeon HD 9970 will be AMD's new flagship card, it's based on a new architecture part of AMD's Volcanic Islands GPU line and may be significantly faster than the Radeon HD 7000 series.
The AMD HD 9970 and the rest of the HD 9000 series cards are to reportedly be launching in October 2013 or Q4 of 2013. These cards will compete directly with NVIDIA’s 700 series cards.