AMD Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition Revisited

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 25, 2012 - 02:59 PM |
Tagged: radeon, amd, video, pitcairn, hd 7870 ghz edition, hd 7870

There have been quite a few new graphics card releases this year and with the now crowded GPU market, we have gotten many requests to revisit some of the earlier launches to see how they stack up in the latest GPU landscape.  One such card is AMD’s Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition, which has seen some dramatic improvements since its initial release in March. 

AMD’s entire lineup of graphics cards based on the Southern Islands architecture were released between the months of January and March of this year, with only a few updates during the summer to combat new releases from NVIDIA.  Though they don’t get as much review time anymore, the Tahiti, Pitcairn and Cape Verde GPUs still have a lot to offer gamers and the Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition is a perfect example of that.

Thanks to recent price cuts, the Sapphire Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition and all other Pitcairn GPUs can be found for much less than when they were launched.  With a starting price of $350 in March, some base HD 7870s can be found online for $250 and sometimes less with rebates today making it a great deal for gamers on a budget. 

You can check out all of our graphics card reviews right here to see how the market currently stands but there are really very few bad choices anymore.

Details Leak on AMD's Sea Islands HD 8900 Series Graphics Cards

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 21, 2012 - 02:55 PM |
Tagged: tenerife, Sea Islands, radeon, GCN, amd, 8970

(Updated to add additional information on the 8900 series rumors – mainly on Radeon 8950.)

Earlier this week, we reported on rumors of two upcoming mid-range AMD 8800 series graphics cards based on the Sea Islands architecture. As mentioned previously, Sea Islands is the successor to the Southern Islands architecture used on the 7000 series. It features an improved Graphics Core Next GPU processor architecture based on TSMC's 28nm process. With that said, the chip will draw less power and be faster on GPGPU workloads thanks to several efficiency tweaks. Graphics cards based on Sea Islands will support DirectX 11, and will be available early next year.

AMD Radeon HD 8970 Tenerife Sea Islands GPU.jpg

While the 8850 and 8870 are based on the Oland GPU, this newly leaked Radeon HD 8970 will use the "Sea Islands" Tenerife GPU. New information seems to suggest that AMD will actually brand it the Venus XTX for 8970 cards and Venus XT/Pro for 8950 cards, though Oland would remain the chip name for 8800 series cards.

Tenerife offers up some impressive (but realistic) specifications, including 2,560 shaders, 160 texture units, 48 ROPs, and a relatively massive 384-bit memory bus. Also impressive is an alleged transistor count of 5.1 billion, which puts it a great deal above the Radeon 7970's 4.31 billion transistors. This rumored Tenerife/Venus XTX GPU (whichever AMD ends up calling it) will have a 250W TDP and will be use in the 8970 flagship graphics card. Venus XT/Pro will scale back the chip a bit by featuring 2,304 shaders, 144 texture units, and 32 ROPs. No word yet on what the TDP will be.

Both the HD 8970 and HD 8950 are said to support 3GB of GDDR5 memory running at 6GHz on a 384-bit bus, which works out such that the cards have approximately 322 GB/s of bandwidth! Further, the 16 additional ROP units in the Radeon HD 8970 will give it a nice performance boost over the 8950 and 8800 series, especially when running multiple monitors in Eyefinity configurations.

As far as specifications go, we do not yet know the die size of the GPU or what the GPU base (and boost) clockspeeds are beyond a source indicating the boost frequency of the 8970 will be above 1050 MHz. According to PC Perspective's GPU packrat reviewer Josh Walrath, the Tenerife GPU will have a much larger die than that of Oland. Because it will feature a sizeable increase in number of transistors, but still be based on a 28nm process, the die size will be somewhere between 380mm^2 and 420mm^2.

To put that in perspective, the 8850/8870 has a die size of 270mm^2, and the current generation predecessor (7950/7970) has a die size of only 365mm^2.

The following chart compares the various rumored Radeon 8000-series graphics cards to their previous generation counterparts.

  Radeon HD 7850 Radeon HD 8850 Radeon HD 7870 Radeon HD 8870 Radeon 7950 Radeon 8950 Radeon HD 7970 Radeon HD 8970
Die Size 212mm^2 270mm^2 212mm^2 270mm^2 365mm^2 ~400mm^2 365mm^2 ~ 400mm^2 
Shader Count 1024 1536 1280 1792 1792 2304 2048 2560
TMUs 64 96 80 112 112 144 128 160
ROPs 32 32 32 32 32 32 32 48
Memory Interface 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit 384-bit 384-bit 384-bit 384-bit
Bandwidth 153.6 GB/s 192 GB/s 153.6 GB/s 192 GB/s 240 GB/s 322 GB/s 288 GB/s 322 GB/s

*Tenerife die size is estimate only, actual die size is still unknown.

The AMD Radeon HD 8970 will be AMD's next generation single-GPU flagship graphics card, and it looks to offer up some respectable hardware. The Radeon HD 8950 should be a decent step up in performance versus the 7950, though it would have been nice to see the 8970's additional ROP units stick around in the 8950. Unfortunately we do not know what this Tenerife (aka Venus) GPU-based  graphics card will be priced at. For now, we will just have to be cautiously optimistic and wait a few months to see how much this card will cost. The wait should not be very long either, if rumors are true as they seem to indicate that the 8970 will enter manufacturing in late 2012 and launched in early (January/February) 2013.

Are you excited for AMD's next-generation flagship?

Source: WCCF Tech

Wii U will be the gift that keeps on giving for AMD

Subject: General Tech | September 20, 2012 - 02:57 PM |
Tagged: Nintendo, Wii U, amd

Nintendo and AMD today announced that the next generation Wii will use a graphics chip designed and provided by AMD.  This is great news that will help AMD's bottom line for quite a while to come as the console business is very different that the PC business.  Instead of having to continually invest money into research and development into new architectures in order to keep releasing brand new families of GPUs in order to keep up with the competition, once the Wii is released AMD's R&D is over and done with.  Instead, the GPU in the Wii U will be a source of income with only the production costs on the expense side of the balance sheet, which is a cost per chip which will decline over time as the production facilities perfect the fabrication process.  Consoles generations last a long time and for the entire existence of the Wii U, AMD will be making money from the console.  You can read more about what the Wii U will be able to do on Nintendo's site though we still do not have much information on the actual GPU hardware specifications.

WiiU.png

"As excited as Nintendo may be about this launch, AMD is equally excited to be a proud technology partner and supplier of the GPU technology for the Wii U. This partnership is another example of AMD’s graphics leadership and innovation, enabling the most dynamic, immersive gaming experiences regardless of platform."

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Source: AMD

AMD Sea Islands HD 8850 and 8870 Specifications Leaked

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 18, 2012 - 06:34 PM |
Tagged: Sea Islands, oland, hd8870, hd8850, gpu, amd radeon, amd

AMD beat NVIDIA to the punch with its 7000-series “Southern Islands” graphics cards, and if the rumors hold true the company may well accomplish the same feat with its next generation architecture. Codenamed Sea Islands, the architecture of AMD’s 8800-series is set to (allegedly) debut around January 2013 time frame. Featuring DirectX 11, GPGPU and power efficiency improvements, 3.4 billion transistors on a 28nm process, and a rumored sub-$300 price, will the 8850 and 8870 win over enthusiasts?

AMD Sea isnlands Road Map.jpg

AMD launched its Southern Island graphics cards with the Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture and Pitcairn GPU in March of this year. Since then NVIDIA has moved into the market with the 660 and 660Ti, and budget gamers have lots of options. However, yet another budget gaming GPU from AMD will be coming in just a few months if certain sources' leaks prove correct. The 8850 and 8870 graphics cards are rumored to launch in January 2013 for under $300 and offer up some significant performance and efficiency improvements. Both the 8850 and 8870 GPUs are based on the Oland variant of AMD’s Sea Islands architecture. As a point of reference, AMD’s 7850 and 7870 are using the Pitcairn version of AMD’s Southern Islands architecture – thus Sea Islands is the overarching architecture and Oland is an actual chip based on it.

Sea Islands is essentially an improved and tweaked Graphics Core Next design. It will continue to utilize TSMC's 28 nm process, but will require less power than the 7000-series while being much faster. While the specifications for the top-end 8900-series is still up in the air, Videocardz is claiming sources in the know have supplied the following numbers for the mid-range 8850 and 8870 Oland cards. 

AMD Radeon HD8870 and Radeon HD8850.png

Videocardz put together a table comparing AMD's current and future GPU series.

The GPU die size has reportedly increased to 270mm^2 (squared) versus the 7850/7870’s 212mm^2 die. This increase is the result of AMD packing an additional 600 million transistors for a total of 3.4 billion. 3D Center further breaks the GPU down in stating that the 8870 will feature 1792 shader units, 112 texture manipulation units (TMU), 32 ROPs, and support a 256-bit memory interface. The 8850 graphics card will scale the Oland GPU down a bit further by featuring only 1536 shader units and 96 TMUs, but keeping the 32 ROPs and 256-bit interface.

For comparison, here’s a handy table comparing the 8850/8870 to the current-generation 7850/7870 (which we recently reviewed).

  Radeon HD 7850 Radeon HD 8850 Radeon HD 7870 Radeon HD 8870
Die Size 212mm^2 270mm^2 212mm^2 270mm^2
Shader Count 1024 1536 1280 1792
TMUs 64 96 80 112
ROPs 32 32 32 32
Memory Interface 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit
Bandwidth 153.6 GB/s 192 GB/s 153.6 GB/s 192 GB/s

 

So while the memory bus and number of ROP units is staying the same, you are getting more shaders and texture units along with a boost to the overall memory bandwidth with the larger die size – sounds like an okay compromise to me!

AMD has managed to increase the clock speeds and GPGPU performance with Oland/Sea Islands as well. On the clockspeed front, the 8850 has a base boost GPU clockspeed of 925 MHz and 975 MHz respectively. Further, the 8870 has base/boost clocks of 1050 MHz/1100 MHz. That is a nice improvement over the 7850’s 860 MHz clockspeed, and 7870’s 1000 MHz clockspeed. AMD is also adding its PowerTune with Boost functionality to the Oland-based graphics cards which is a welcome addition. The theoretical computational power of the graphics chips has been increased as well, by as much as 75% for single precision and 60% for double precision (7870 to 8870). The single precision performance has been increased to 2.99 TFLOPS on the 8850 (1.76 TFLOPS on the 7850), and 3.94 TFLOPS on the 8870 (7870 has 2.25 TFLOPS). The single precision numbers are relevant to gaming and general applications that consumers would run that are GPU accelerated. The figures are not really suited/representative of high performance computing (HPC) workloads where precision is important (think simulations and high-end mathematics), and that is where the double precision numbers come in. The 8800 series gets a nice boost in potential performance as well, topping out at 187.2 GFLOPS for the 8850 and 246 GFLOPS for the 8870. That is in comparison the 7850’s 110 GFLOPS and 7870’s 160 GFLOPS.

The sources also disclosed that while the 8850 would have the same TDP (thermal design power) rating as the 7850, the higher-end 8870 would actually see a decreased 160W TDP versus the previous generation’s 175W. Unfortunately, there were not any specific power draw numbers talked about, just that the cards were more power efficient, so it remains to be seen just how much (if at all) less power the GPUs will need. The sources put the 8870 at the same performance level as the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680, which would mean that this will be an amazing mid-range card if true. Especially considering that the cards have a rumored price of $279 for the 8870 and $199 for the 8850. Granted, those prices are likely much lower than what we will actually see if AMD does indeed launch the cards in January as the company will not have competition from NVIDIA’s 700 series right away.

In some respects, the rumored specifications seem almost too good to be true, but I’m going to remain hopeful and am looking forward to not only seeing the mid-range Oland GPU coming out, but the unveiling of AMD’s top-end 8900 series (which should be amazing, based on the 8800-series rumors).

What do you think of the rumored 8850 and 8870 graphics cards from AMD? Will they be enough to temp even NVIDIA fans?

Source: Videocardz

Gigabyte Shows Off the F2A85X-UP4

Subject: Motherboards | September 17, 2012 - 11:09 PM |
Tagged: trinity, piledriver, fm2, amd, A85X, a10

Gigabyte lit the social media fuse and showed off some of the first pictures of one of the A85X based motherboards.  A85X is the successor to the original FM1 A75 chipset, and it had a rather robust featureset for a "budget" oriented chipset.  The original A75 was paired with the Llano APU, otherwise known as the A8/A6/A4 APU from AMD.  The A85 is pin compatible with the A75, but it offers two more SATA 6 ports than the previous unit.  Both share 14 USB ports, four of which are USB 3.0

f2a85x_up4.jpg

The board overall looks nice and robust.  The black PCB and accoutrements make it seem like it is a mean board.  There are 4 USB 3.0 ports on the back and a header for front panel USB 3.0.  All eight SATA 6 ports are used on the board, six + one on the board and one e-SATA.  We do not know all the details about the power delivery system, but it looks like it is using a variant of what we saw with the latest Z77 boards from Gigabyte.  Good stuff, Mainerd.

October certainly looks to be the month that Trinity arrives.  Everyone is very curious how it will perform against the latest Ivy Bridge processors from Intel.  While AMD still has a GPU advantage, it is slowly shrinking.  Now we wonder how well the CPU part will perform and how much power it will pull.  Stay tuned, gentle readers...

Source: Gigabyte

Build a micro ATX Llano system for less than $300

Subject: Systems | September 17, 2012 - 01:05 PM |
Tagged: micro ATX, llano, htpc, gigabyte, GA-A55M-DS2, amd, a8-3870K

If you are on a tight budget and can't afford the cost of a Llano based notebook, or simply just don't want a mobile PC then Legit Reviews can help you out with their new system build guide.  For just under $300, shipping included, they will show you how to set up an A8-3870K based system on Gigabyte's GA-A55M-DS2 motherboard, 4GB DDR3-1333 and an OCZ Vertex Plus R2 60GB SATA II SSD along with an optical drive and a micro ATX case.   It won't win any overclocking awards but it has enough outputs to make a decent HTPC system and will handle light gaming duties thanks to the integrated graphics on the A8-3870K

LR_system-update.jpg

"Are you looking to build a budget PC, but have a limited budget to work with? We have had a number of readers and businesses that we consult with looking for new systems that will save power and be faster than the systems they currently have. When we started to look into low cost Do-It-Yourself (DIY) systems we found that you could easily build an AMD Llano system for less than $300. And when we say under $300 we mean with shipping included! You would think that for under $300 we would have to cut corners and use knock off brands, but that is not the case here. We are using the top of the line AMD A8-3870K APU and an OCZ Vertex Plus R2 60GB Solid-State Drive (SSD) into this system. The one corner that we did cut is..."

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AMD's Radeon HD 7000 Series Graphics Cards Reportedly Receiving Price Cuts Soon (Update: AMD denies further price cuts)

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 13, 2012 - 05:25 PM |
Tagged: Radeon HD 7000, price cuts, pitcairn, HD7000, gpu, amd

Update: AMD has stated that there will not be any price cuts.

NVIDIA launched two budget Kepler-based graphics cards today, and the sub-$250 GPUs are competitively priced. The GTX 650 is a card with an MSRP of $109 and is matched against the Radeon 7750 (which retails for around $110 depending on manufacturer). Further, the $229 GTX 660 is pitted against the Radeon 7850 – an approximately $220 card (some manufacturers beat that price, others are priced higher).

The AMD Radeon HD 7850 Graphics Card from our review.

And while you can find these AMD graphics cards for slightly less than the NVIDIA competition, the green team GPU is a faster card in most games (especially at 1080p). In an attempt to sway gamers towards the AMD choice, the company is preparing to cut prices on the entire 7000-series line – including the 7750 and 7850. These are cuts on the, erm, arleady-cut prices announced last month.

The Price cuts are as follows:

AMD Radeon HD GPU New Slashed Prices
7970 GHz Edition $430
7970 $410
7950 Boost Edition $300
7950 $290
7870 $240
7850 $200
7770 $110
7750 $95

 

These prices are almost certainly for reference designs, and you can naturally expect to pay for any factory overclocked model. What these price cuts mean, though is that the base versions are now cheaper to get ahold of, which is a good thing (for gamers, not so much for AMD heh).

When specifically talking about the price cuts as a response to budget Kepler cards, both the 7750 and 7850 can be had for anywhere between $5 and $20 cheaper in general. That’s is ~$20 extra dollars that you could devote to more RAM or put you over the edge into getting a better quality PSU. It definitely makes the decision to go AMD or NVIDIA a bit more difficult (but in an exciting/good way).

This is not the first time that AMD has slashed prices on its 7000 series graphics cards and now that it has competition on all fronts, it will be interesting to see how all the prices finally shake out to be. Interestingly, Softpedia seems to have posted the price cut information on Tuesday (two days before Kepler) but states that the cuts will not go into effect until next week – though Newegg seems to have taken some initiative of its own by pricing certain cards at the new prices already. This may have technically been more of a pre-emptive move than a reactionary one, but either way the budget gaming section of the market just got exciting again!

Do the impending price cuts have you reconsidering your budget GPU choice, or are you set on the new Kepler hardware?

Source: Softpedia

AMD Binning Trinity APUs With Defective GPUs as CPU-Only Athlon Processors

Subject: Processors | September 13, 2012 - 01:03 PM |
Tagged: trinity, fm2, cpu, athlon, APU, AMD A series, amd, a75

NVIDIA’s new Kepler graphics cards (such as the GTX 660 we recently reviewed) will be getting most of the PC enthusiast attention today, but there is a bit of news about AMD to talk about as well.

The Trinity APU die.

Thanks to a Gigabyte motherboard compatibility list that was accidentally leaked to the internet, it was revealed that Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) would be repurposing Trinity APU dies that don’t quite make the cut due to non-operative graphics cores. Instead of simply discarding the processors, AMD is going to bin the chips into at least three CPU-only Athlon-branded processors. The Athlon X4 730, X4 740, and X4 750K are the three processors that are (now) public knowledge. All three of the CPUs have TDP ratings of 65W, and the X4 750K is even unlocked – allowing for overclocking. Further, the processors are all quad core parts with a total of 4MB of L2 cache (1MB per core).

The new Athlon-branded processors will be supported by the A75 chipset and will plug into FM2-socket equipped motherboards.

The following chart details the speeds and feeds of the Athlon processors with Trinity CPU cores.

  Clockspeed TDP
Athlon X4 730 2.8GHz 65W
Athlon X4 740 3.2GHz 65W
Athlon X4 750K 3.4GHz 65W

 

Unfortunately, there is no word on pricing or availability. You can expect them to be significantly cheaper than the fully fledged Trinity processors to keep them price-competitive and in-line with the company's traditional CPU-only processors.

Would you consider rolling a Trinity-based Athlon in a budget build?

Read about the new direction of AMD as it moves to producing Vishera processors and beyond.

Source: Bit-Tech

SeaMicro's new servers might have Intel Inside but the rest is all AMD

Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2012 - 01:47 PM |
Tagged: seamicro, amd, Intel, xeon, piledriver, smug

To think that only 3 years ago we finally saw the end of the legal battle between Intel and AMD over the x86 patent makes today's news bring a smile to those with a certain sense of humour.  Some of SeaMicro's new servers will be powered by Intel's Xeon line of processors, meaning that an AMD owned company will be offering Intel Inside.  As AMD purchased SeaMicro for their "Freedom" 3D mesh/torus interconnect technology as opposed to an attempt to push Intel out of that particular make of server, this move makes perfect sense as AMD's bottom line will benefit from every sale of an Intel based SeaMicro server.  It also opens up the choices available to the market as you will be able to purchase Piledriver based SeaMicro servers using the same interconnect technology.

From The Register we get more information on the Piledriver processors we will see in these servers, they will have eight cores and would come in three speeds; 2GHz, 2.3GHz, and 2.8GHz.  They also infer that with this design you could have 512 cores and 4TB of memory in a 10U chassis which is enough to make any SETI@Home or Folding@Home team member drool with jealousy.  On the Intel side they will use the 2.5GHz quad core Xeon E3-1265L v2  which means you would only have a mere 256 cores in a similar 10U chassis.  DigiTimes also picked up on this story with more details on the insides of the servers, both Intel and AMD.

ElReg_amd_seamicro_opteron_node.jpg

"SeaMicro is not longer an independent company, but you would not have guessed that if you were dropped in from outer space to attend the launch of the new SM15000 microserver in San Francisco on Monday afternoon. Advanced Micro Devices may own SeaMicro, but the company went out of its way to support the latest "Ivy Bridge" Xeon E3-1200 v2 processor from rival Intel as well as its own forthcoming "Piledriver" Opteron processor as new compute nodes in a new SeaMicro chassis."

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Source: The Register

CiiNow Engineering Open Cloud Gaming Platform With AMD Radeon Graphics Hardware

Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2012 - 10:41 AM |
Tagged: virtualization, radeon, onlive, gaming, cloud gaming, ciinow, amd

In the wake of OnLive going bankrupt and selling itself to new investors, a new cloud gaming company has emerged called CiiNOW. The company was founded in 2010 and now has 24 employees. It has managed to raise more than $13 million USD, but with a new investment from new chip designer AMD CiiNow is ready to go public with its software. Interestingly, instead of starting its own cloud gaming service, CiiNow is positioning itself as a Middleware company by selling its virtualization and gaming software to other companies. Those business customers would then use CiiNow’s software to start their own cloud gaming services.

Ciinow website.jpg

In the deal with AMD, CiiNOW will recommend AMD Radeon graphics cards to customers as well as supporting them on its software platform. According to CiiNow, its virtualized platform is able to run on any data center or cloud computing platform’s hardware. While OnLive generally required specialized servers where the graphics card was dedicated to providing games to one (or a small number of) user(s), CiiNow claims to be able to provide up to eight 720p HD streams per server blade, and up to 272 HD streams per traditional server rack. On the user side of things, CiiNow has stated that gamers would need at least a Mbps internet connection in order to play the streamed games effectively. Company CEO Ron Haberman was quoted by Venture Beat in stating the following:

“One of the big issues with cloud gaming is that no one likes to talk about costs, we are more economical because we virtualize any hardware that fits underneath our software.”

Ciinow_how it works.jpg

While the company has not gone into details about how the virtualization software works on off-the-shelf servers, they claim that it is an extremely scalable solution that can support rapidly growing numbers of end users without dramatically increasing hardware costs. It's impossible to say how well cloud gaming services based on this technology will work without more details or a hands on, but it is nice to see someone else take up the mantle from OnLive – especially with competitor Gaikai being bought out by Sony. CiiNow wants its technology to be used to deliver AAA titles to gamers over the Internet, so I'm interested in how they are going to pull that off using varying hardware with CiiNow's software layer running on top (specifically, the performance they will be able to get out of the hardware and how it will be sliced up between clients/gamers).

The company has said that games will not need to be ported to the virtualized software to work, only a DRM free copy from the publisher needs to be provided to load it onto the platform. Further, the cloud gaming provider using CiiNow's software will be able to support game pads and other controllers to interact with the streamed games. CiiNow does not list specific latency numbers on its site, but claims that it is using a low latency H.264 video stream to send the gameplay down to users. It remains to be seen whether or not it will be able to match or exceed NVIDIA's GRID technology in that respect, however.

There are still a lot of questions about how CiiNOW's software will work, and whether it will advance cloud gaming in general. Fortunately, you should be able to get some answers soon as the company's software is now available to the public, and we should start to see some new cloud gaming providers popping up based on the virtualization technology. Reportedly, the company has completed several trial runs in Europe and has potential customers in the US, Korea, and Australia. CiiNow claims that it could take around two months from when a customer orders equipment before its cloud gaming service can go live, so the first fruits of CiiNow's labor might emerge by the end of this year.

There is a preview of a cloud gaming service up on CiiNOW's website, but no partners with plans to launch gaming services have been publicly announced yet. 

In the video below, CiiNOW CEO Ron Haberman introduces the company's new cloud gaming platform.

Continue reading for my speculation and brief thoughts on cloud gaming. Feel free to join the comment discussion (no registration required).

Source: Venture Beat