From the beginning, AMD's 40nm Radeon HD 5000 series graphics cards have been limited in stock, which is at least partially due to TSMC's (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company) poor yields. The wafer producer supplies both AMD and Nvidia with products, and admitted to manufacturing troubles in October.
Blaming the low yields (about 40%) on chamber matching issues, the company promised to have things straightened out by the end of 2009. TSMC has reportedly kept its word, despite rumors suggesting the shortage might last until the second quarter of 2010.
Noticing an online resurgence of Radeon HD 5800-series graphics cards, The Tech Report contacted AMD to find out if the famine has passed. In response, AMD informed the site that 40nm yields at have "stabilized" and Radeon HD 5800-series cards should become more available.
While Radeon HD 5850 and 5870s are currently more plentiful than a few weeks ago, prices are still inflated. The Tech Report notes that the cards are selling for around $50 and $20 above their suggested retail price -- an unavoidable tax if you want DirectX 11-capable hardware before your friends.