ATI Radeon HD 5870: DirectX 11, Eyefinity, And Serious Speed

Cypress Measures Up

ATI is really proud of its “Sweet Spot” strategy. First implemented last year, Sweet Spot mandates that ATI design a GPU capable of addressing the performance segment. The company is then able to leverage that GPU into a dual-processor solution, used to snag the performance crown. Then, it applies the same general design principles and spins off mainstream variants able to tackle sub-$100 price points.

Sweet Spot has worked out very well for ATI, and the company knew it as far back as its RV770 launch. Of course, history tells the complete tale: Radeon HD 4870 proved to be a great value, Radeon HD 4870 X2 was indeed top dog through the holiday season of '08, and the Radeon HD 4600- and 4500-series chips caught ATI up to Nvidia’s more mainstream offerings, which had previously been more attractive than the older Radeon HD 3800-series stuff.

This approach, of course, runs counter to Nvidia’s as-of-yet unnamed approach, which might as well be called the “Go Big Or Go Home” strategy. As we already know, GT200 was a 1.4 billion transistor, 576 square millimeter monster at 65nm. Nvidia didn’t seem particularly keen to talk dimensions when it made the jump to 55nm with GT200b. However, we’ve unofficially seen 490 square millimeters tossed around. Even at 40nm, the company’s next-generation part will likely be larger than today’s 55nm flagship, which means the thing will still be mighty substantial.

Ain’t It Sweet?

The slide illustrating ATI’s approach with its Evergreen GPUs looks almost identical to the one used last year.

Code-named Cypress, the first (and most complex) Evergreen chip hugs the $300-$400 range. ATI plans to use a pair of the GPUs in its Hemlock design later this year. And while we've heard that power limitations will force lower clocks on the Hemlock part, ATI says it'll be defining everything from bill of materials to the BIOS on that card right up until launch. Juniper will also emerge in Q4, breaking under the $199 price point, while Redwood and Cedar follow up next year, introducing us to DirectX 11 support for less than $100.

ATI first tested TSMC’s manufacturing capabilities back in April with the Radeon HD 4770. At the time, we paired two of the cards up in a CrossFire configuration and found them unbeatable for $220. Unfortunately, the company cheesed off a number of prospective customers when it launched the card without enough supply in the channel. The problem? Reportedly, high-leakage parts from TSMC resulting in poor yields. Not much ATI could do, but we can’t imagine the etailers who slashed the prices on Radeon HD 4850s to stay competitive were very happy.

With five months passed, those teething issues have purportedly been worked out, as Cypress centers on the same manufacturing node. It’s a good thing too, as 40nm photolithography is a virtual necessity given a massive 2.15 billion transistor count. Equally amazing is that Cypress’ complexity is packed on a die measuring 334 square millimeters. Though quite a bit larger than RV770’s 263 square millimeter die, ATI’s most modern creation is still significantly smaller than GT200b at 55nm. Therein lays the advantage of more advanced manufacturing. ATI now has the most complex GPU in the world at 2.1 billion transistors, and it’s smaller than its principal competition at 1.4 billion.

Cypress sports more than two times the number of transistors found in its predecessor, which boasts 956 million. What on earth did ATI add to make its latest generation so much more complex?

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  • Anonymous
    anyone seen these in the uk?
    1
  • jimishtar
    now this is someting. cant wait to see what nvidia will come up with.
    1
  • jimishtar
    does this mean that the prices of existing 48xx cards will go down?
    1
  • siunit
    They are scheduled for release on the 25th in the UK according to major online retailers expected stock date.
    0
  • cyber_jockey
    My god the 4870x2 finally got a rival
    1
  • Anonymous
    Smooth gaming again!?!? YAY
    0
  • plasmastorm
    available for pre order on scan.co.uk now £320
    0
  • ainarssems
    All those connectors are nice but first thing I thought when I first saw pictures was there is not enough vents on the backto cool that card properly. Hopefully some board partners will come up with versions with full PCI slot cooling. Eyfinity looks better, but all I need is two DVI connectors one for monitor and other for projector.

    Now lets see what Nvidia brings out, lets hope something competitive in performance and price. I hope prices drop by Cristhmas to £200-259 for 5870
    0
  • ainarssems
    At guru3d they overclocked to 925 core/ 5400 memory could not go further because of temp problems. I wonder what would they do with better cooling. 1GHZ/6GHz?...Now that would be sweet.Link: http://www.guru3d.com/article/radeon-hd-5870-review-test/26
    0
  • atomdrift
    ainarssemsAll those connectors are nice but first thing I thought when I first saw pictures was there is not enough vents on the backto cool that card properly. Hopefully some board partners will come up with versions with full PCI slot cooling.


    Anandtech addressed this concern in their review: "As far as the 5870 is concerned, this is solid proof that the half-slot exhaust vent isn’t going to cause any issues with cooling."
    http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3643
    0
  • atomdrift
    Here's the source link to the above quotation.

    http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3643
    0
  • ainarssems
    I have seen Anandtech's article, however they did hit 100C and started to throtle in /crossfire on Toms review and Guru3d temps limited overclocking so there is room for improvement in cooling.

    Also I wonder if 2GB version would perform better at high resolutions with AA
    0
  • jcwbnimble
    No Crossfire? Really? What was ATI thinking releasing a top of the line video card that can't support a major feature set? One of the major selling points is that you can run 3 displays off this one card, yet you need to Crossfire two of these to get playable frame rates. Problem, you can't Crossfire these cards (yet?).

    They should have dispensed with the third video connection in favor of extra ventilation, which it sounds like this card needs. If users are so gung ho about running 3 or more dispays, then wait for the Eyefinity card.

    Glad to see ATI releasing a product that puts a boot up Nvidia's arse, but they shouldn't have released it without solving the Crossfire issue.
    -5
  • ainarssems
    Must be mistake. Check benchmarks, they include crossfire results so it is working. They probably had the cards for some while for testing and started writing article and drivers did not support crossfire at the start and does support now. They just forgot to edit part of the article where it says that it does not support crossfire.
    0
  • shrex
    any word on when the 5670 is gonna come out
    0
  • deepblue69uk
    Yes, try www.overclockers.co.uk
    -1
  • chockimon
    £320 ouch, what a rip off and no Physx. I think this time round Nvidia's mid range card, the GTX360 will trounce all over this card from a great height.
    -4
  • wikkus
    chockimon£320 ouch, what a rip off and no Physx. I think this time round Nvidia's mid range card, the GTX360 will trounce all over this card from a great height.


    Wow, 8 minutes before the first fanboi commentard...

    As someone who holds allegiance with neither vendor -- both have a place in our house -- this looks great from a stirring-up the market perspective.

    R.
    0