AMD has seen some great developments in the way of releasing the 4800 series of graphics cards and therefore will be moving up the launch of these graphics cards.
Manufacturing improvements will give these GPUs higher clock speeds, the mid-range will jump from a 670MHz core seen in the 3850 to more than 800MHz in the 4850, while the 4870 should be the first mainstream graphics chipset ever to top 1GHz.
Not only will the 4800 series have higher clock speeds, the chips will also be more efficient at the same clock speed as previous GPUs. With an increase to 32 texture management units both of the initial 4800 models will be able to handle more simultaneous pixel and geometry effects at once. Memory on these new cards will run between 1.8GHz and 2.2GHz thanks to newer GDDR5 memory.
AMD has already confirmed that it will be announcing new graphics chips in May and is also rumored to be releasing the new cards at the same time. The launch may also reveal new Mobility Radeon HD chipsets with similar improvements. Pricing has not been talked about yet but the 4850 and 4870 are both rumored to be coming with 512MB of memory and should price in at around $179 to $219. Other cards may come with as little as 256MB of memory or as much as 1GB.
Although AMD is bumbling around a little bit on the CPU side, they may be fairly future proof because of their capability to produce both CPUs and GPUs that run darn well, while Nvidia is only capable of producing GPUs and Intel is really only good at making CPUs and not very good with the GPU side of things.