AMD have changed gears when it comes to their GCN launch on January 9, as most launches have the GPU manufacturer forcing AIBs to make cards based on the reference designs for at least the first 3 months after release.
This is good for AMD or NVIDIA, but for manufacturers, its hard to make your reference card stand out from the crowd. At launch, the cards are all pretty much the same thing and its only months later do we see some DirectCU models from ASUS, and TwinFrozr cards from MSI, etc.
But, AMD are unleashing their Tahiti Pro cards from the shackles of reference city... and SemiAccurate have heard from multiple sources that the HD 7970 will be able to sport non-reference designs from day one.
This will be a great thing for the launch of the HD 7000-series AMD cards, and their multiple AIB partners.