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AMD Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 Edition: One Card, Six Screens

AMD Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 Edition: One Card, Six Screens
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Last week was a mad rush to get Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 480 and 470 tested in sufficient depth to draw some very real conclusions about how the new cards perform in today’s games, how they might fare in the future, and the power they’ll be sucking down in the meantime.

All the while, I knew AMD would be pulling back the curtain on its Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 Edition today. This card stands in stark contrast to the GeForce GTX 480 as the worst-kept secret ever. AMD was showing it off back in September when it announced the first Radeon HD 5870. Company reps flew around the country last month, dropping six-display setups on tech press like high-res 5760x2160 pixel bombs. Pictures and videos of these jaw-dropping arrangements made their way online, and we got our first taste of what it’d be like to stack LCDs vertically, rather than just spanning horizontally, like most of us multi-monitor proponents do today.

The only thing embargoed up until now was performance data. Over the course of the past six months, AMD’s driver team has been working on the software backing Eyefinity 6. And while all of the kinks still aren’t worked out, setting up and using intricate display configurations is much easier now than it was a month ago when the first Catalyst build landed in our lab.

Eyefinity 6 Lands In The Lab

AMD’s PR team arrived at our SoCal test facility with not one, but two 2GB Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 Edition boards.

At 11” long, the Eyefinity 6 card is the exact same length as AMD’s reference Radeon HD 5870 1GB. Because it sports a second gigabyte of GDDR5 memory, however, it requires one eight-pin and one six-pin auxiliary power connector (in comparison, the 1GB Radeon HD 5870 employs two six-pin connectors). Idle power creeps up from 27W on the 1GB card to 34W on the 2GB card (according to AMD), and maximum board power ramps up from 188W to 228W—a somewhat-surprising 40W increase.

Why the larger frame buffer? Well, as you likely already know, the Eyefinity 6 card sports six display outputs in the form of Mini DisplayPort connectors. Each output accommodates a resolution up to 2560x1600. Sling six of those together and you’re looking at a 7680x3200 surface—large enough to bring any 1GB card to its knees (and indeed, realistically big enough to drop even this 2GB board below the point of playability).


Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 Edition 2GB
Radeon HD 5870 1GB
GPU; Process
Cypress; 40nm
Cypress; 40nm
Engine Clock
850 MHz
850 MHz
Stream Processors
1,600
1,600
Memory Type
GDDR5
GDDR5
Memory Clock / Data Rate
1,200 MHz / 4,800 Mb/s
1,200 MHz / 4,800 Mb/s
Memory Capacity
2GB
1GB
Memory Bandwidth
153.6 GB/s
153.6 GB/s
Maximum Board Power
228W
188W
Idle Board Power
34W
27W


However, our test setup consists of six 1920x1080 22” Dell P2210H LCDs, adding up to 5760x2160—a more plausible 12.5 million pixels. And we’re going to tax it in several different ways, exploring the difference between a 1GB Radeon HD 5870 and the 2GB Eyefinity 6 Edition card, whether one 2GB card is ample to play across six 22” LCDs, and how much of a boost you might see by running two Eyefinity 6 Edition cards in CrossFire mode.

Sounds like a boatload of “sweet,” right? Dude. Totally. But there are also a handful of caveats to bear in mind. Let’s begin by getting the unpleasant business out of the way first.

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  • -5 Hide
    Anonymous , 31 March 2010 12:56
    480 GTX is good
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , 31 March 2010 17:00
    The more obvious set up would be for a combat flight sim, or a game that had that available (bf2 like game).
    Then you would have 5 displays in a cross shape:
    Center display for front, left & right side views.
    lower display for ground bomb aiming.
    high display for overhead.
    Of course just have to have a game that would support the setup.
  • 3 Hide
    Herr_Koos , 31 March 2010 18:04
    8Core480 GTX is good


    480GTX can't do six displays...
  • 3 Hide
    ainarssems , 31 March 2010 19:34
    Totally pointless unless You yave borderless displays.
    Even if You where to strip monitors from casing and put actual display panels edge to edge there would be 5-6mm on border on each display. I can see it usable with 3 monitors but six with a border line in the centre a big no no. If You have too much money and do not know better use for it I suppose You can do setup like this for a sake of exlusivity
  • 3 Hide
    david__t , 31 March 2010 20:19
    I'll stick to one 50" Plasma thanks. Over £2000 is far too much of a cost to end up with big black lines everywhere. Also, the point of games is to be immersed in another world - hardly likely if you have 3 huge monitors above your game world with web browsers & twitter on! Having taken my TFT to bits once, it would be possible to have a 2 or 3mm bezel if you lined up panels DIY style, but this would require serious modifications for it to work and look good.
  • 0 Hide
    goozaymunanos , 1 April 2010 00:43
    wow lol!

    yeah borderless screens..they are gonna look yummy, even for a single display!

    cheers,
    gooz

    p.s. stuff & nonsense: http://eupeople.net/forum
  • 0 Hide
    MasterDOOM , 1 April 2010 17:16
    Guys 70% Nvidia Fans have say BY EBYE Fermy we go to ATI500 Series when they have say how muck suck the new GTX480 and 6 mounts wheit for nvidia promise ! ATI Is still the best and best buy :)  I love ATI eyeinfinity :) 
  • 0 Hide
    MasterDOOM , 1 April 2010 17:19
    Sorry for dubble post buy my internet from job sucks :) 
    Guys 70% Nvidia Fans have say BYE BYE Fermy we go to ATI 5000 Series when they have say how muck suck the new GTX480 : Extreme hot Extreme big Price nothing new etc.. and 6 mounts wheit for nvidia promise !
    ATI Is still the best Choice and best buy :)  I love ATI eyeinfinity :) 
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , 1 April 2010 17:58
    This will kill your power ratings and your budget, but what about getting 6 HD projectors and line them up so you have a bezel-less display!

    That's what I'm doing if I win the lottery.
  • 1 Hide
    CyberAngel , 2 April 2010 02:02
    Swivel monitors and use those 6 side-by-side
    There you go - no middle bezel cutting to lower and upper half!!
    Care for a re-run of you tests? Does it work?

    What ATI Radeon would I buy?
    5970 EyeFinity: no CF needed and performance is there.
    Maybe 800 USD for a single (dual-GPU) graphic card?
    Why not, the monitors will cost about the same or more

    Active DP-2-DVI*2 adapters and all 6 of them? => 6*30" á 2560x1600
    You might test that - you could borrow the LCD's needed - huh?
    You definately need CF (or imaginary 5970 EyeFinity)
  • -3 Hide
    chechak , 2 April 2010 05:46
    480 GTX is VERY good and i don't need 6 monitors to play games or anything else ...iam not security guy that monitor his house or company so if i wana play games i will buy Big Monitor Game LCD like(nec-crv43-curved-display)
    with GTX 480 thats cool
  • 2 Hide
    laggboxx , 9 April 2010 22:13
    Hehe i like anonymous!
    Then it's actually worth it :D 
    The only problem will be to find a plain HUUUUGE wall to fit the pictures on:p 
  • 0 Hide
    Evoss , 18 April 2010 04:40
    I really must say this building monitors together is not god it looks horrible this was hit in 90's not NOW !! the the visible picture is disorted with those lines !!
    Why they doing this ???
    Whe are in 2010 year we have here now big screen TV or they are just LCDs and
    much much better than these monitors I would rather connect ATI radeon to 50'' Sony TV with perfect quality LCD .. but not this its aincient !
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 20 April 2010 09:48
    I am using these for the charts, and it absolutely rocks. Love it.
  • 0 Hide
    marney_5 , 5 May 2010 22:47
    I dont understand why you would want those borders when playing a game.
  • 0 Hide
    Herr_Koos , 5 May 2010 22:53
    Marney_5I dont understand why you would want those borders when playing a game.


    You don't, but until they start making bezel-less monitors, any multi-monitor setup will have this problem.
  • 1 Hide
    Spoony , 27 July 2010 18:05
    ATI are really kicking the crap out of Nvidia at the moment,

    and if im honest i dont see a way back for them anymore. i have 2 water cooled 5770's and i run all games on max and they work a treat accross 3x 24inch samsung displays in landscape or potrait :D , i only have 1 issue and thats my usb mouse isnt getting the power it should anymore :S bigger psu my things lol
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , 31 December 2010 04:18
    see benchmarks of my new POWERCOLOR 5870 2GB EYEFINITY
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4GSVzWwZ7DI
    unbeliavable