We probably don't need yet more graphics cards in an already extremely crowded market, but AMD is announcing them nonetheless. Slotting in at the bottom-end of its range, below the 4600-series, the AMD ATI Radeon HD 4550 and AMD ATI Radeon 4350 aren't going to blow away the competition when it comes to gaming performance, but the cards do offer some interesting features. Especially for media centre PC builders.
The cards are based around a cut down version of the RV770 chip which powers AMD's 4800-series cards, called RV710. This features 80 stream processors, eight texture units and four ROPs. Both the Radeon HD 4550 and Radeon HD 4350 sport the same 600MHz core clock speed and are differentiated by their different memory configurations.
Both cards have 64-bit memory interfaces, with the 4550 packing either 256MB or 512MB of 1.6GHz GDDR3 RAM and the 4350 having 256MB of 1GHz of GDDR2. Graphics prowess probably isn't the biggest selling point of these cards, then, but as both cards have the full version of AMD's Unified Video Decoder, they still have a compelling selling point.
As RV710 supports not only hardware decoding of HD content, that is Blu-rays and HD DVDs, but also 8-channel sound output over HDMI, in a small and (almost certainly) quiet package. For media centre PCs, then, these new cards could well make an attractive addition, especially if the price is right.