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Manufacturer: Various

PhysX Settings Comparison

Borderlands 2 is a hell of a game; we actually ran a 4+ hour live event on launch day to celebrate its release and played it after our podcast that week as well.  When big PC releases occur we usually like to take a look at performance of the game on a few graphics cards as well to see how NVIDIA and AMD cards stack up.  Interestingly, for this title, PhysX technology was brought up again and NVIDIA was widely pushing it as a great example of implementation of the GPU-accelerated physics engine.

What you may find unique in Borderlands 2 is that the game actually allows you to enabled PhysX features at Low, Medium and High settings, with either NVIDIA or AMD Radeon graphics cards installed in your system.  In past titles, like Batman: Arkham City and Mafia II, PhysX was only able to be enabled (or at least at higher settings) if you had an NVIDIA card.  Many gamers that used AMD cards saw this as a slight and we tended to agree.  But since we could enable it with a Radeon card installed, we were curious to see what the results would be.

screenshot-16.jpg

Of course, don't expect the PhysX effects to be able to utilize the Radeon GPU for acceleration...

Borderlands 2 PhysX Settings Comparison

The first thing we wanted to learn was just how much difference you would see by moving from Low (the lowest setting, there is no "off") to Medium and then to High.  The effects were identical on both AMD and NVIDIA cards and we made a short video here to demonstrate the changes in settings.

Continue reading our article that compares PhysX settings on AMD and NVIDIA GPUs!!

AMD Vishera (Piledriver-based) Desktop CPU Pricing Leaked By Retailer

Subject: Processors | September 29, 2012 - 10:46 PM |
Tagged: vishera, piledriver, amd, am3+

Trinity APUs are not the only Piledriver-based processors that AMD will be releasing this year. Trinity is coming next month, but later this year AMD should be putting out Vishera processors based on Piledriver CPUs cores – and without integrated GPUs. And now, thanks to a retailer leaking details on its website, we now know some basic specifications – and more importantly – pricing.

For the uninitiated, Vishera is AMD’s next generation processor. It will use the existing AM3+ socket, and is built on a 32nm HKMG manufacturing process. Further, the CPUs are based on the Piledriver architecture which features a number of efficiency improvements over Bulldozer.  Thanks to the architecture tweaks, and Cyclos Semiconductor’s resonant clock mesh technology that reduces the amount of power needed to keep the clock frequency synced across the entire chip. The architecture tweaks result in improved instructions per clock (IPC), improved floating point performance, leakage reduction, AMD Turbo Core 3, and new FMA3, AVX, AVS1.1, AES, and F16C instructions among other improvements.

For more information on the Piledriver architecture, and where AMD is taking it with Vishera, read the “AMD: Vishera and Beyond” editorial we recently posted. Also relevant is our mobile Trinity (A10-4600M) review which gives some small hints at the kind of CPU improvements we can expect with desktop Piledriver CPU cores versus the previous generation.

According to eTeknix, the recently leaked information from Bottom Line Telecomunications includes clock speed, core count, amount of cache, TDP and pricing for four of AMD's upcoming FX series Vishera processors: the FX 4300, FX 6300, FX 8320, and FX 8350. The FX 4300 is a quad core processor clocked at 3.8GHz with 8MB of cache and a 95W TDP (thermal design power). It was priced at $131.62 on the company's website. The FX 6300 CPU brings the core count up to six, and increases the cache to 14MB. It keeps the same 95W TDP as the FX 4300 but is clocked at 3.5GHz and costs $175.77.

The FX 8320 and FX 8350 are both eight core processors and have a 125W TDP. The FX 8320 is a $242.05 part with 16MB cache and comes clocked at 3.5GHz. The FX 8350 keeps the same 16MB cache but is clocked at 4GHz and, as a result, costs more at $253.06.

The FX 8320 in particular appears to be a neat processor, and will likely be the more popular of the two FX 8000 series as enthusiasts will overclock it match (or exceed) the FX 8350 while paying the cheaper price (since the only thing you are really giving up with the lower-end part is clockspeed, and not cache)!

It will be interesting to see if the Piledriver-based chips are worth the price though, since we have yet to see independant CPU performance benchmarks for either Vishera or Trinity. The following table is the leaked information from shopBLT mentioned above in table form.

shopBLT Item # Manufacturer Part # Description Price
BPW4489 FD4300WMHKBOX FX 4300 QC CPU AM3+ 8MB 95W 3.8GHz Box $131.62
BPW4488 FD6300WMHKBOX FX 6300 6C CPU AM3+ 14MB 95W 3.5GHz Box $175.77
BPW4487 FD8320FRHKBOX FX 8320 8C CPU AM3+ 16MB 125W 3.5GHz box $242.05
BPW4486 FD8350FRHKBOX FX 8350 8C CPU AM3+ 16MB 125W 4GHz Box $253.06

Speaking of pricing, AMD will not only be competing with Intel's Sandy Bridge processors, but its latest Ivy Bridge chips as well, so pricing will be key to AMD selling its CPUs. In the following chart, we compared AMD's upcoming Vishera processors (based on the leaked information above) to Intel's latest Ivy Bridge parts. Because we do not know what the performancer of Piledriver will be, we matched up the Bulldozer CPUs to the Intel competition based on pricing. Essentially, we attempted to find the the Ivy Bridge CPU with the closest price tag to the Vishera processors' price. Intel's 22nm process has definitely given the company a leg up on TDPs, but you do get as many as twice the cores (and cache) with AMD for the price. The FX 8350 is an odd part in that it does not have a good Ivy Bridge equivalent, because there is no approximately $250 Ivy Bridge CPU. The next-closest CPU is the Core i7-3770 at just-over $300. Note that it may end up being that a lower priced chip will actually perform equivalently (or outperform) to the FX 8350 – we just do not know at this point and the only basis for matching these up for sake of comparison is price right now.

  AMD       Intel      
Processor Model FX 4300 FX 6300 FX 8320 FX 8350 Core i3 3220 Core i5 3550P Core i5-3570K Core i7 3770
No. of cores (HT) 4 6 8 8 2 (4) 4 4 4 (8)
Cache 8MB 14MB 16MB 16MB 3MB 6MB 6MB 8MB
Clockspeed (turbo) 3.8GHz 3.5GHz 3.5GHz 4GHz 3.3GHz 3.1GHz (3.5) 3.4GHz (3.8) 3.4GHz (3.9)
pGPU n/a n/a n/a n/a HD2500 n/a HD4000 HD4000
TDP 95W 95W 125W 125W 55W 77W 77W 77W
Price $131.62 $175.77 $242.05 $253.06 $129.99 $189.99 $229.99 $309.99

The Intel processors were chosen base on pricing and not performance per-se. Note that the i5-3550P does not include integrated graphics.

Another interesting match up is the comparison between AMD's next generation Vishera processors and its current generation Zambezi Bulldozer CPUs.

zambezi vs vishera.png

The FX 4300 cache number seems like the only oddity, but is based on leaked information above.

Assuming that the leaked pricing ends up being accurate, AMD has put itself in an odd position with Vishera. Across the board, the Piledriver-based chips are notably more expensive than the Bulldozer predecessors. The next generation chips are offering up higher clockspeeds – and in some cases – lower TDPs. On the other hand, they are coming in at a premium, and AMD is already facing stiff competition from Intel’s Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge processors.

AMD will really have to bring the promised performance improvements in order to move its Vishera chips at these prices. Performance is key, and unfortunately that's one aspect of Piledriver that we don't yet know beyond AMD's claims. Personally, I'm hopeful that they will deliver on the claimed efficiency tweaks and that Vishera will be a success. At the very least, it should offer a nice upgrade for owners of AM3+ motherboards.

After the Trinity launch, we should have more information on the the level of CPU performance we can expect from Piledriver. Keep an eye on PC Perspective for more information on Vishera and the Piledriver architecture in general as it comes in!

Read more about AMD's Piledriver microarchitecture.

Source: eTeknix

That's why it is called a preview not a review

Subject: Processors | September 27, 2012 - 07:53 PM |
Tagged: trinity, preview, papermaster launch, disappoint, amd, A10 5800K

By now you have probably realized that there is some commotion surrounding AMD's preview of their new Trinity chips.  As you can see below, many sites chose to post this preview as it is new information, regardless of the limits that AMD required reviewers to submit to.  Before you woke up this morning you did not have the knowledge you do now about Trinity's power consumption and gaming performance, for example Legit Reviews results, and on the 2nd you will get the rest of the results, which is not too far off in the future.

While limiting reviewers to a certain set of benchmarks for a preview is not a popular move for readers or writers, it is nothing new.  From Kyle's take on NVIDIA's reviewers guide to the driver wars which have gone on and on and on for longer than it is easy to find links for; there is a dirty side to reviewing.  Sometimes companies release new products and go out of their way to ensure that reviewers do not get their hands on before the products are for sale.  Of course reviewers occasionally go out and buy those products and once they get them on their test benches it becomes obvious why the companies did not send out review samples.  You don't have to like these practices, or accept them, but please realize that it is nothing new when you are lodging your complaints ... and do lodge complaints to the manufacturers if you find yourself upset.  Here at PC Perspective we want to give you all the information we can, even if it means we can only give it to you piecemeal, you do still get it.

apu.jpg

"So far, it appears that these APUs have an advantage over Intel's Ivy Bridge processors when it comes to graphics. The new AMD Radeon HD 7000 series GPU in these APUs is clearly superior to the GPU found in equivalent and even more expensive Ivy Bridge processors. Additional tests will have to wait until October 2nd, as that is when AMD is allowing full reviews of the new 'Trinity' APUs..."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Podcast #220 - Samsung 840 Pro SSD, a 1500W PSU from EVGA, AMD GPU leaks, and more!

Subject: General Tech | September 27, 2012 - 01:46 PM |
Tagged: tlc, ssd, Sea Islands, Samsung, PSU, podcast, nvidia, IOPS, Intel, evga, amd, 840 pro, 840, 1500W

PC Perspective Podcast #220 - 09/27/2012

Join us this week as we talk about the Samsung 840 Pro SSD, a 1500W PSU from EVGA, AMD GPU leaks, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Allyn Malvantano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!

Program length: 1:07:28

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Reviews:
    1. 0:02:55 Samsung 840 Pro 512GB SSD
    2. 0:17:50 EVGA SuperNOVA 1500 watt PSU
  2. 0:23:20 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!
  3. News items of interest:
    1. 0:24:05 Raspberry Pi to get a Turbo button?
    2. 0:26:30 Looking for a $1200 Muderbox?
    3. 0:29:05 GLOBALFOUNDRIES goes 3D with FinFET
    4. 0:41:10 AMD Sea Islands GPU leaks
    5. 0:46:00 Maingear launches an All-in-One with a GTX 680
    6. 0:50:50 Catalyst 12.9 Released
    7. 0:55:20 Long term storage?
  4. Closing:
    1. 0:57:30 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
      1. Ryan: AVADirect Mini-ITX Gaming System
      2. Jeremy: and now I can't find the smegging disks
      3. Josh: A fun barebones- not perfect, but cheap!
      4. Allyn: Samsung 830 deals! (anywhere you can get 'em)
  1. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  2. http://pcper.com/podcast
  3. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  4. Closing/outro
  5.  

Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: AMD

Trinity's GPU Performance

Editor's Note: Right before the release of this story some discussion has been ongoing at other hardware sites about the methods AMD employed with this NDA and release of information.  Essentially, AMD allowed us to write about only the gaming benchmarks and specifications for the Trinity APU, rather than allowing the full gamut of results including CPU tests, power consumption, etc.  Why?  Obviously AMD wants to see a good message be released about their product; by release info in stages they can at least allow a brief window for that.  

Does it suck that they did this?  Yes.  Do I feel like we should have NOT published this because of those circumstances?  Not at all.  Information is information and we felt that getting it to you as soon as possible was beneficial.  Also, because the parts are not on sale today we are not risking adversely affecting your purchasing decision with these limited benchmarks.  When the parts DO go on sale, you will have our full review with all the positives and negatives laid out before you, in the open.  

This kind of stuff happens often in our world - NVIDIA sent out GTX 660 cards but not GTX 650s because of lack luster performance for example - and we balance it and judge it on a case by case basis.  I don't think anyone looking at this story sees a "full review" and would think to make a final decision about ANY product from it.  That's not the goal.  But just as we sometimes show you rumored specs and performance numbers on upcoming parts before the NDAs expire, we did this today with  Trinity - it just so happens it was with AMD's blessing.  

AMD has graciously allowed us the chance to give readers a small glimpse at the performance of the upcoming A series APUs based on the Trinity processor.  Today we are covering the SKUs that will be released, general gaming performance, and what kind of power consumption we are seeing as compared to the previous Llano processor and any Intel processor we can lay hands upon.

Trinity is based on the updated Piledriver architecture, which is an update to Bulldozer.  Piledriver improves upon IPC by a small amount over Bulldozer, but the biggest impact is that of power consumption and higher clockspeeds.  It was pretty well known that Bulldozer did not hit the performance expectations of both AMD and consumers.  Part of this was due to the design pulling more power at the target clockspeeds than was expected.  To remedy this, AMD lowered clockspeeds.  Piledriver fixes most of those power issues, as well as sprinkles some extra efficiency into the design, so that clockspeeds can scale to speeds that will make these products more competitive with current Intel offerings.

 

The Lineup

The top end model that AMD will be offering of the socket FM2 processors (for the time being) is the A10 5800K.  This little number is a dual module/quad core processor running at 3.8 GHz with a turbo speed of 4.2 GHz.  We see below the exact model range of products that AMD will be offering.  This does not include the rumored Athlon II editions that will have a disabled GPU onboard.  Each module features 2 MB of L2 cache, for a total of 4 MB on the processor.  The A10 series does not feature a dedicated L3 cache as the FX processors do.  This particular part is unlocked as well, so expect some decent overclocking right off the bat.

 

trin_line.jpg

The A10 5800K features the VLIW 4 based graphics portion, which is significantly more efficient than the previous VLIW 5 based unit in Llano (A8 3870K and brethren).  Even though it features the same number of stream processors as the 3870K, AMD is confident that this particular unit is upwards of 20% faster than the previous model.  This GPU portion is running at a brisk 800 MHz.  The GPU core is also unlocked, so expect some significant leaps in that piece of the puzzle as well.

trin_perf.jpg

That is about all I can give out at this time, since this is primarily based on what we see in the diagram and what we have learned from the previous Trinity release (for notebooks).

Click to read the entire post here.

AMD Catalyst 12.9 Beta is Now Available

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 26, 2012 - 01:57 PM |
Tagged: amd, catalyst, catalyst 12.9, beta, driver

You can grab the latest Catalyst Beta driver today, the 12.9 beta driver and Catalyst Application Profiles for CrossFire today.  For the beta driver you must pick your card and OS version as normal, from there scroll below the current WHQL 12.8 driver and you will see the beta.  Why would you want to grab the driver?  It could make your Panda bears perform better and for those on laptops, the introduction of AMD Enduro Technology will allow you to set separate power profiles for every installed application, determining if it uses hybrid graphics or only the APU.

AMD_Banner.png

http://support.amd.com/us/Pages/AMDSupportHub.aspx

Feature Highlights of AMD Catalyst 12.9 Beta: AMD Catalyst Mobility support for AMD Enduro Technology

AMD Catalyst Mobility now includes support for AMD Enduro Technology.
AMD Enduro Technology for Notebooks delivers:

  • Unbeatable battery life
  • GPU accelerated performance for gaming, video, and compute apps
  • A Seamless and automatic experience

New Enduro Technology features found in Catalyst 12.9 Beta:

  • Re-designed Catalyst Control Center user interface
  • View all profiled applications
  • View recently run applications
  • Profile applications based on power source
  • Expert mode control and customization
  • Performance centric AC
  • Battery centric DC

cat129.png

Performance highlights of AMD Catalyst 12.9 Beta (versus AMD Catalyst 12.8)

  • Up to 10% in Lost Planet 2 in single GPU configurations

AMD’s latest Catalyst Application Profile: AMD Catalyst 12.9 CAP1 (to be used with AMD Catalyst 12.9 Beta)

Find the latest available AMD Catalyst CAP here : http://sites.amd.com/us/game/downloads/Pages/crossfirex-app-profiles.aspx

  • World of Warcraft - Mist of Pandaria (DX11, DX9): Fixes texture flickering observed when enabling high graphics settings with CrossFire enabled
  • World of Warcraft - Mist of Pandaria (DX9): Resolve corruption when enabling Anti-Aliasing through the Catalyst Control Center
  • World of Warcraft - (DX9): Resolves performance issues observed with the 64-bit variant of the client
  • Tribes Ascend: Improves CrossFire performance
  • F1 2012: Improves CrossFire performance, resolves texture flickering in reflections

Resolved issue highlights of the AMD Catalyst 12.9 Beta driver

  • Tri and Quad CrossFire + Eyefinity configurations – Users will no longer see lower than expected performance in certain DirectX 10 and DirectX 11 applications
  • FireFox – corruption is no longer observed on CrossFire configurations
  • Enabling Overdrive settings no longer increases clocks in all power states
  • AMD Video Converter support is available in AMD Catalyst 12.9 Beta Windows 7 and Windows Vista packages

Feature Highlights of AMD Catalyst 12.9 Beta Linux Driver: New OS Support
This release of AMD Catalyst Linux introduces support for the following new operating systems

  • Ubuntu 12.10 early look support
  • RHEL 6.3 production support

Source: AMD

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."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

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