Usually when ATI or Nvidia release a new series of video cards the performance increase over the previous generation is at least 50%. This is not the case here. The ATI 6850 is about 5% to 10% slower than the 5850. What the hell is the point?
Well ATI is introducing 3D stereoscopic glasses capabilities. Nvidia has had this for a few years now, so its good of ATI to get on-board. The problem is they really aren't getting on-board. The 6800 series video cards are capable of 3D, but ATI isn't selling a 3D kit with glasses, the software, recommendations on monitors to use and there is no official support in any games. You're basically left on your own to get the 3D to work. Again. What the hell ATI?
Oh, there is a new video streaming capability in the chip. It can decode two 1080p video streams at the same time all without the help of the CPU. Wow. That is really useful.
Maybe I'm missing something. Heres a few links to reviews.
Update: Its the pricing. The 5850s are around $260 and the 6850s are around $180. So being about 5% to 10% slower is OK at these reduced prices. I still don't understand the naming though. Going from 5800 series to 6800 series should be reserved for a major performance increase. They way they did it is just going to confuse buyers.