AMD's been planning for a second quarter release of the Radeon HD 8000 "Sea Islands" GPUs while the first to arrive hardware will be the HD 8800 "Oland" graphics processors. This hardware that succeeds the Radeon HD 7000 series isn't as radically different as going from the HD 6000 to HD 7000 series, which yielded a better turnaround time with the initial HD 8000 series support.
However, before getting too excited, the open-source Radeon HD 7000 "Southern Islands" support is still a mess and the Sea Islands support is just building upon that. The HD 7000 series has had kernel mode-setting for a while now but with the new "RadeonSI" Gallium3D driver it's been very slow to develop. Basic OpenGL demos will run on the HD 7000 series hardware, but not much more and the Radeon HD 4000/5000/6000 series is in much better shape. For end-users who were quick to purchase the HD 7000 series hardware one year ago, it's still a disappointment if you're an open-source driver end-user but at least there's been Catalyst Linux support going back to its launch-day.
There's also the overall limitations of the open-source AMD Linux stack of no support past OpenGL 3.0 yet, OpenCL is still a work-in-progress, there isn't Unified Video Decoder support, and other features are missing or still in early stages of development.
In terms of today's Oland work, there was a simple commit to Mesa to "add support for Oland chips" inside the RadeonSI driver. This ended up being a fairly trivial commit for introducing the Oland GPU chip support, but again the RadeonSI driver is far from being feature-complete.
Another commit added in the new Oland PCI IDs: 0x6600, 0x6601, 0x6602, 0x6603, 0x6606, 0x6607, 0x6610, 0x6611, 0x6613, 0x6620, 0x6621, 0x6623, and 0x6631.
There was also a fairly trivial commit to the xf86-video-ati DDX for introducing Oland GPU support, which again is not really any different compared to the Southern Islands support. Likewise, a commit went into Mesa's DRM library (libdrm) too.
At the time of publishing, the Radeon DRM kernel driver support for Oland hasn't been seen. This support will be targeted for the Linux 3.9 kernel merge window, which is a bit unfortunate since Ubuntu 13.04 and other Q2 distributions are generally sticking to Linux 3.8 or prior. Unless these vendors end up back-porting the initial HD 8000 Linux series support to the older kernel (at least the Mesa changes are candidates for next month's release of Mesa 9.1), most users will have to wait until H2'2013 for reliable HD 8000 series open-source support. Fortunately, there should be at least good launch-day coverage in the Catalyst Linux driver.