ATI 5-series preview

We are on the cusp of a new generation of computer graphics. Directx11 will be released with Windows 7 at the end of October, and the software will be here this year as well. DiRT 2 for PC has been delayed so that Directx11 support can be incorporated into the game.

Today, we will have the release of AMD’s 40nm DirectX11 graphics cards, namely the 5870 and 5850. Just for some perspective, the 4870 and 4850 are both 55nm cards with 800 stream processors running at 750Mhz and 625Mhz respectively. With regards to memory, the 4870 runs DDR5 at 3200Mhz and the 4850 DDR3 at 1986Mhz.


The 5870 will have 1600 stream processors running at 825Mhz with DDR5 memory running at 5200Mhz effective providing over 150GB/s of memory bandwidth. The 5850 will have 1440 stream processors running at 725Mhz with DDR5 memory running at 4000Mhz effective providing 136BG/s of memory bandwidth. Both cards will have 32 ROPs. The 5870 and 5850 will have a maximum power draw of  180W and 170W under load respectively and 27W when idle. The 5870 will come in 1GB and 2GB variants, while the 5850 will be released with only in 1GB form initially.

Just by looking at the specs, the 5870 should give more performance than the 4870×2. A 5870×2 is also planned, but apparently the drivers still need some polishing, and will be released about a month after the 5870. Power consumption might also be a problem. Even on 40nm, a 5870×2 card will have a power consumption of around 376W, which is 90W more than the 4870×2 on a 55nm process.

5-series cards for notebooks will be available around November, and that’s one place where 40nm will really come in handy. In a notebook, space, cooling, and power consumption all come at a premium. 40nm cards will be smaller, run cooler, and use less power, prolonging battery life.

ATrHD5870_angle1_lo_resWith the release of the next generation AMD graphics cards, AMD will be launching what they call Eyefinity. Imagine playing DiRT 2 across 6 monitors at a resolution of 7680 x 3200, and still having playable framerates. It’s possible. ATI has an agreement with Samsung to produce Eyefinity monitors which are extremely thin.

Things are not looking so well for nVidia on the GT300 front. Even if everything goes according to plan, GT300 is only expected in Q1 2010. Things haven’t been going well, though: rumours have been going around that yields are somewhere around 2%, which, quite frankly, is pathetic. A re-spin will add weeks to the release of the cards. ATI were smart to test out the 40nm process first using the 4770. They took what they learned and now have almost perfect execution in the 5-series. Obviously, we’ll have to see how availability is, first, but everything is looking good so far.