Graphics cards aren’t normally our go-to choices for audio processing, but we may have to make exceptions for AMD’s just-unveiled Radeon R9 and R7 lines. The R9 290X (shown above), R9 290 and R7 260X (after the break) will support TrueAudio, a new programmable pipeline that enables advanced audio effects without burdening a PC’s main processor or a dedicated sound card. Not that the range will be lacking in visual prowess, of course. While the company isn’t revealing full specifications, it claims that the R9 290X flagship will have five teraflops of total computing power versus the four teraflops of the previous generation. The boards will ship sometime in the “near future,” with prices ranging from $89 for an entry R7 250 to $299 for the mid-tier R9 280X. AMD isn’t divulging the R9 290X’s price, but pre-orders for the card will start on October 3rd.
The firm has also revealed a new programming interface, Mantle, that makes the most of the Graphics Core Next architecture found in many of its recent processors and video chipsets. Developers who build the low-level code into their games should get better performance from GCN-based devices without having to re-optimize for each platform — a title meant for Radeon-equipped PCs should still behave well on a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, for instance. Mantle will debut on Windows through a December update to Battlefield 4, and should spread to other platforms in the months ahead.