Subject: Graphics Cards | January 2, 2012 - 07:23 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: amd, southern islands, rumor, leak
The review for the AMD Radeon HD 7970 3GB card based on the Tahiti GPU and the new Southern Islands architecture was released on December 22nd with expected availability on January 9th. In that review we show a diagram of the Tahiti GPU and its 32 Compute Units (CUs) that combine to form the total 2048 stream processors (SPs).
We asked and asked, but a die shot was never given to us for our review - a very non-standard practice for new launches. That started us wondering - was there something AMD was hiding from reviewers about the architecture? Were there some disabled CUs on the 28nm GPU that they had disabled for business, yield or clock speed reasons? Think of what Intel has done with Sandy Bridge-E or what NVIDIA did originally with the GTX 480 GPU.
AMD assured us that was not the case - Tahiti is the full die enabled, 32 CUs and 2048 SPs. And, based on some of our own internal information, that seems to be 100% the case.
But, an interesting image started floating around last week:
This image from the site ChipHell.com appears to show the development sheets for Sapphire's upcoming Radeon HD 7000 series products and their internal codenames. There are some really noteworthy things to look at though starting with the Atomic lineup.
While the Flex 6G is a 6GB card with 6 mini-DP ports on it running at the same clock speeds as our reference designs did initially, the Atomic RX card has a clock speed of 1335 MHz running on 2048 SPs and a pretty good memory overclock as well. If that is accurate, the performance difference between the Atomic RX and "Da Original" (likely the reference card) would be tremendous!
Here is what is more interesting - another card listed above the HD 7970s that seems to include 2304 SPs, or 36 CUs. Running at a reference speed of 1000 MHz, this card would have a noticeable advantage over the current HD 7970 cards. What's more...?
The Toxic ZX, if it exists, would run with 2304 stream processors at 1225 MHz! The performance of this card could easily beat out the Radeon HD 7970 3GB card by 35-45% with the shader and clock speed differences.
So, what does this all mean? Probably nothing, but it is fun to speculate on a few things. It seems possible that AMD either HAD or HAS another GPU waiting in the wings based on Southern Islands to compete with NVIDIA's Kepler when it finally gets released. Even though these documents seem to indicate that, I kind of find it hard to believe that AMD would have been able to keep this secret from the media and the competition for this long. It is also equally unlikely that AMD was able to quickly tape out another chip that we are unaware of as even a somewhat moderate change like adding in four very modular CUs takes many months.
And of course, we have to take in the possibility that these are all fake, or a decoy or were written up 18 months ago and plans have changed. Those are much less fun though.
Subject: Graphics Cards | January 2, 2012 - 02:03 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: tahiti, southern islands, radeon, pcie 3.0, dx 11.1, amd, 7970, 28nm
If somehow you ended up feeling that Ryan missed something about the HD 7970 that was important to you, we offer a long enough list of HD 7970 reviews that you will find it somewhere. Come next week when these cards hit the market at about $800 apiece (the MSRP is $550USD so hope that number is inflated), you might want to know just how well the cards scale, assuming you are able to spend the better part of $2000 just on your graphics subsystem. The Guru of 3D has answered your Croesus-like desires by running two HD 7970's in CrossFire. The power usage turned out to be quite interesting, the total power used by two HD 7970s is comparable to that of a single HD 6970, which will at least help you save a bit on your PSU and electricity build. More important to most is the performance scaling, which Guru3D tested exhaustively and are happy to report scaling between 1.6 to 2 times the performance. Keep in mind you need huge resolutions to make this worth your investment, it takes a lot of money to play Battlefield 3 @ 2560x1600.
"We review the AMD Radeon HD 7970 in Crossfire. With two reference cards in-house, we figured well, you might be interested in some multi-GPU lovin from AMD.
Let's take it to the next level -- multi-GPU gaming in 2-way Crossfire mode."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- AMD Radeon HD 7970 3GB GPU and Graphics Card Review @ PC Perpsective
- AMD Radeon HD 7970 3GB Graphics Card Review @ eTeknix
- HD 7970: Bulldozer vs. Sandy Bridge vs. Nehalem @ techPowerUp
- AMD Radeon HD 7970 @ Techspot
- Radeon HD 7970 Overclock and perf Guide @ Guru3D
- Radeon HD 7970 CPU scaling performance @ Guru3D
- AMD Radeon HD 7970 @ Legion Hardware
- MD Radeon HD 7900 Series Graphics Preview @ Madshrimps
- AMD Radeon HD 7970 Launch Review @ Neoseeker
- AMD Radeon HD 7970 3GB Video Card Review @ Legit Reviews
- AMD Radeon HD 7970 3-part @ VR-Zone
- AMD Radeon HD 7970 Video Card Review @ Hardware Secrets
- AMD Radeon HD 7970 @ techPowerUp
- AMD Radeon HD 7970 CrossFire Performance Review @ HardwareHeaven
- AMD Radeon HD 7970 @ Overclockers.com
- AMD Radeon HD 7970 Graphics Card Review @ HardwareHeaven
- AMD Radeon HD 7970 3GB Review @ Hardware Canucks
- AMD Radeon HD 7970 @ Guru of 3D
- Club3D Radeon HD 6950 Battlefield 3 Edition Graphics Card Review @ eTeknix
- Sapphire HD 6670 Low Profile Review @ OCC
- Sapphire Low-Profile Radeon HD 6670 @ Pro-Clockers
- Sapphire Radeon HD 6670 LP Review @ Neoseeker
- Intel GMA 3150 Driver 188.8.131.5267 @ NGOHQ
- EVGA GTX 560 Ti 2 Win @ Hardwareoverclock
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 Ti 448 Cores Graphics Cards from Palit and MSI @ X-bit Labs
- ASUS MARS 2 SLI Madness @ OC3D
Subject: Graphics Cards | December 30, 2011 - 10:23 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: southern islands, radeon, hd 7770, hd 7750, cape verde, amd
According to a story posted over at Fudzilla, there are new details leaking out about the February release of the AMD Radeon HD 7700-series of graphics cards. Based on the 28nm Cape Verde chip we first heard about last month at the AMD GPU Tech Day in Austin, this is the smallest die based on the new Southern Islands architecture. If you haven't read about all the changes that SI brings to the table (and there are many) then you should check out our Radeon HD 7970 review while you're here.
The specifications of the Radeon HD 7700 (Cape Verde XT) according to the leak are 896 stream processors (14 CUs), 56 texture units and 16 ROPs with a clock speed of 900 MHz. The memory system will be based around 1GB of GDDR5 on a 128-bit memory bus at a 1375 MHz clock rate for a total bandwidth of 88 GB/s. The Radeon HD 7750 (Cape Verde Pro) steps down to 832 stream processors (13 CUs), 52 texture units and 16 ROPs with a 900 MHz clock speed. The memory system will still be 128-bit with slightly slower memory for a total of 80 GB/s of bandwidth.
Compared to the Radeon HD 7970, these specs are pretty meager. The Tahiti GPU has 2048 stream processors and a 384-bit memory bus which would likely make a dramatic difference in performance, as expected Still, for the estimated $149 price tag AMD could have a winner on its hands.
Our estimation of the Cape Verde GPU based on the rumored specifications. It is also possible that AMD would remove the dual geometry engines at the top and go with a single.
Finally, there is less information about the 7800-series (Pitcairn): it could include a 256-bit memory bus and will obviously include more compute units for its $299 and $249 price tags. If those leaked prices are legit, that is a HUGE gap in price between the HD 7870 and the HD 7970 currently set to be sold at $549!
Subject: Editorial | December 29, 2011 - 02:11 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: ssd, podcast, nvidia, Intel, hdd, amd, 7970, 780
PC Perspective Podcast #183 - 12/29/2011
Join us this week as we talk about the AMD Radeon HD 7970, HDD Price Analysis, a 4K Display, GTX780 Rumors, and more!
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
- 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
- 0:00:30 Introduction
- 1-888-38-PCPER or email@example.com
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
- 0:02:08 Galaxy GeForce GTX 570 MDT X4 Overclocked Graphics Card Review
- 0:12:33 AMD Radeon HD 7970 3GB Graphics Card Review - Tahiti at 28nm
- 0:29:25 SSD and HDD Price Analysis: End of Shortage In Sight?
- 0:37:15 The EIZO DuraVision FDH3601 is a 4k x 2k Display, and We Want It
- 0:41:53 GeForce GTX 780 Leak
- 0:45:47 Battlefield 3 Frame Rate Drop Issue with GeForce GPUs
- 0:49:42 AMD Refreshes the A-Series APUs for the New Year
- 0:53:40 Richard Huddy is now Intel Inside. Well I'll be d'AMD.
- 0:55:40 Intel Releases New Cedar Trail Atom Processors
- 0:57:35 http://www.pcper.com/news/Processors/Intel-Medfield-x86-SoC-Targets-Android-Phones-and-Tablets
- 1:04:00 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
- Ryan: AIDA64
- Jeremy: Ice Machine
- 1-888-38-PCPER or firstname.lastname@example.org
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
Introduction and Design
Back in June of 2011, we reviewed AMD’s new Llano mobile processor line by taking a look at a testbed system. The overall review was favorable, but it was also based on the best AMD had to offer, a quad-core A8-3500M processor running alongside a separate Radeon discrete GPU.
If you take a tour through your local electronics retailer, you’ll find that this is not the most common combination of parts on store shelves. The less expensive and less powerful A4 and A6 processors are more common. In our original Llano laptop review, I theorized that these would remain competitive at their respective price points, but we didn’t have the opportunity to test a laptop equipped with the less expensive hard.
Now, via the ASUS K53T, we finally have a chance to thoroughly examine a mid-range Llano laptop.
Subject: Graphics Cards | December 26, 2011 - 12:05 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: tahiti, southern islands, radeon, amd, 7990, 7970
The big talk during the holiday break was AMD's release of the Radeon HD 7970 3GB graphics card - the new single-GPU performance leader. I gave the card our Editor's Choice award for simply impressing the hell out of us, all while keeping power consumption in check thanks to the TSMC 28nm process technology it is built on. Being the first card to support the upcoming DX11.1 and PCI Express 3.0 are just a bit of icing on the fruitcake.
During our talks with AMD they teased a dual-GPU version of Southern Islands they were calling "New Zealand". According to a report from Softpedia that card might be available sooner than we thought - sometime in the first quarter of 2012. Because the new Tahiti GPU is actually more power efficient than Cayman, seeing the pending Radeon HD 7990 with two full powered GPUs isn't out the question though we would expect to see slightly lower clock speeds.
Because of the ZeroCore Technology implemented this generation of GPU from AMD, the HD 7990 will be able to run at basically the same power levels as the Radeon HD 7970 at idle and at the Windows desktop.
The most interesting part? This would give the HD 7990 a 6GB frame buffer, 3GB per GPU as we see today on the HD 7970. Chances are this would give the graphics card more memory than many of our readers primary computer...
If you are interested in this type of card, start saving your pennies now. When the Radeon HD 6990 launched (the Cayman-based dual-GPU card) it was priced at $699 and never went any lower. With the price of a single Southern Islands GPU curently at $549, expect to see even higher numbers than the HD 6990 has. I hope we don't see the same availability issues with the pending HD 7990 release but you can't be sure.
The First 28nm GPU Architecture
It is going to be an exciting 2012. Both AMD and NVIDIA are going to be bringing gamers entirely new GPU architectures, Intel has Ivy Bridge up its sleeve and the CPU side of AMD is looking forward to the introduction of the Piledriver lineup. Today though we end 2011 with the official introduction of the AMD Southern Islands GPU design, a completely new architecture from the ground up that engineers have been working on for more than three years.
This GPU will be the first on several fronts: the first 28nm part, the first cards with support for PCI Express 3.0 and the first to officially support DirectX 11.1 coming with Windows 8. Southern Islands is broken up into three different families starting with Tahiti at the high-end, Pitcairn for sweet spot gaming and Cape Verde for budget discrete options. The Radeon HD 7970 card that is launching today with availability in early January is going to be the top-end single GPU option, based on Tahiti.
Let's see what 4.31 billion transistors buys you in today's market. I have embedded a very short video review here as well for your perusal but of course, you should continue down a bit further for the entire, in-depth review of the Radeon HD 7970 GPU.
Southern Islands - Starting with Tahiti
Before we get into benchmark results we need to get a better understanding of this completely new GPU design that was first divulged in June at the AMD Fusion Developer Summit. At that time, our own
lovely and talented Josh Walrath wrote up a great preview of the architecture that remains accurate and pertinent for today's release. We will include some of Josh's analysis here and interject with anything new that we have learned from AMD about the Southern Islands architecture.
When NVIDIA introduced the G80, they took a pretty radical approach to GPU design. Instead of going with previous VLIW architectures which would support operations such as Vec4+Scalar, they went with a completely scalar architecture. This allowed a combination of flexibility of operation types, ease of scheduling, and a high utilization of compute units. AMD has taken a somewhat similar, but still unique approach to their new architecture.
Subject: General Tech | December 21, 2011 - 03:39 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: llano, APU, amd, a-series
From DigiTimes we have some news that AMD has been keeping a very tight lid on for some reason. The secret was not a brand new product line or surprising advance that won't see the light of day for a long time to come, instead it was the arrival of updated A-series APUs to the market. With absolutely no press build up or even a review of these processors in sight it came as a bit of a surprise, albeit a good one. We have a pair of new A-8 and A-6 processors and a single A-4 on the desktop side, with an addional "K" in the name of two. That "K", which you will remember from Intel processors, does indeed seem to replace the Black Edition name AMD previously used to identify unlocked processors. For the notebooks are a few more chips, two of each of the A-8 and A-6, three A-4 processors and an E2 as well. The naming scheme here is concerned with the TDP of the chip, an M part is 35W and the MX is 45W.
Perhaps AMD let a few too many of their marketers go as they are not only not telling anyone about their new parts they had to borrow a naming scheme from the competition. Catch all of DigiTimes coverage here.
"AMD has updated its A-series lineup of desktop and notebook accelerated processing units (APUs), further improving its family of dual- and quad-core APUs. Along with speed and performance improvements, AMD Steady Video update make this unique feature more compelling. For desktop users, AMD extends its overclocking pedigree to the APU; for the first time users can tune both x86 and graphics settings in a single processor for boosted performance.
The updated AMD A-series APUs combine up to four x86 CPU cores with up to 400 Radeon cores, delivering powerful DirectX 11-capable, discrete-level graphics and dedicated HD video processing on a single chip. These new APUs increase performance and deliver a richer feature set than existing AMD A-series APUs. Plus, only AMD APUs offer AMD Dual Graphics for an up to 144% visual performance boost when a select APU is paired with a select AMD Radeon HD 6500 Series graphics card.
The AMD A-series family of APUs also features AMD Steady Video, designed to stabilize videos during playback. On select systems using AMD A-series APUs, Internet Explorer 9 will include an AMD Steady Video plugin, unlocking one-click control to simplify access to the premium AMD Steady Video feature for video stabilization.
All AMD A-series processors are powered by AMD VISION Engine Software, a suite of software that provides end-users with regular updates designed to improve system performance and stability, and can add new software enhancements."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- HDD industry to be dominated by Western Digital, Seagate @ DigiTimes
- Samsung MV800 Digital Camera Review @ Tech-Reviews
- Secrets and solutions from a reformed benchmarketer @ The Register
- Xerox PARC: A Brief Nod to the Minds Behind Laser Printing, Ethernet, the GUI and More @ Techspot
- eTeknix Christmas Hardware Buying Guide
Subject: Graphics Cards | December 21, 2011 - 07:26 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: amd, 7900, radeon hd, tahiti, gpu, pcb
Tech Power Up managed to get their hands on a couple photos of the PCBs used in the upcoming AMD Radeon HD 7900 series graphics cards. The blue boards show the traces and connectors that will eventually house the memory chips, graphics processor, capacitors, PCI-E power and video out connections (among others). This particular PCB is allegedly the "cost effective" version that is an alternative for Add-In-Board partners (for example: Sapphire, HIS, and XFX) so that they can offer lower cost cards.
The naked boards feature spots for two DVI, one HDMI, and one Display Port connector, although graphics card manufacturers do not have to include all of the connectors enabling low profile HTPC friendly versions. Further, the PCB features connections for an 8+2 analog VRM (voltage regulators), 12 memory chips, and two 8 pin PCI-E power connectors.
Keep in mind that this PCB is merely a reference design and may not be used in all Tahiti cards. AMD has given its partners free reign to design their own PCBs for the 7950 graphics cards. On the 7970 card; however, the cost effective reference design may well be used in many third party 7970 cards as an alternative to the main 7970 board design.
I suppose we will just have to wait until tomorrow for the official launch to learn more about the new cards. However, being so close to the launch date, the photos are likely representative of the actual PCB design. More photos can be found here.
Subject: Graphics Cards | December 20, 2011 - 03:38 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gpu, amd, nvidia, turks, Caicos, graphics core next, GCN, cape verde, HD7770, kepler
Rebranding and rebadging is becoming a very bad habit for both major GPU manufacturers. It is fair to imply that NVIDIA was the first to start doing so on a regular basis but AMD has noticed that they have successfully managed it on several different chip families and has since joined in on crushing enthusiasts hopes in the holy name of the profit margin. On the other hand, with the financial difficulties that both companies are experiencing it is a viable strategy no matter how much enthusiasts dislike the practice.
Just two weeks ago we received information about the mobile chips from NVIDIA and AMD and the news was not good. From AMD we have rebranded Turks and Caicos chips with improved clock speeds but the same base technology already on the market. NVIDIA didn't even go that far and released the exact same chips as the previous generation, under new names.
We have heard rumours that AMD will also be applying that marketing strategy to at least some of the upcoming HD 7xxx series cards but thanks to a link from VR-Zone we know where the new chips will start. The HD7770 will feature Graphics Core Next and a 128-bit memory interface, replacing the ageing Juniper chips. As far as power there seems to be only a single PCIe 6 pin connector needed, which should keep the power draw to around 100W. If you are planning on picking a new AMD card when they arrive on the market ensure you do not look lower in the family as you will be picking up a rebranded card.
There was also a leak on the NVIDIA side today, with a single slide marked for internal use only appearing at a site called EXP Review. These types of slides and the benchmarks on them should always be taken with at least your daily allowance of sodium, if not more as the rules for what optimizations can be done to the benchmarks are very different for internal testing. They do show a nice performance difference, the GTX780 ranges from 190% to 230% of the performance of a GTX580. Astute readers will immediately start wondering what happened to the GTX6xx family, as according to this slide NVIDIA seems to be skipping an entire series with Kepler. Perhaps that is where rebranded Fermi chips could find a niche?
The coming year looks dangerous for GPU buyers, with older cards masquerading as newer models, thanks to AMD mixing VLIW4/5 cards with GCN cards and NVIDIA's suspicious naming scheme. While we have a bit of information about AMD's new cards, no indication of their performance has tipped up on the net. If NVIDIA's benchmarks are even close to reality a doubling of performance in a single generation would be a coup for them, as that type of increase in such a short time is almost unheard of. Then again, NVIDIA has been working on this architecture for a long while now. We will find out more over the coming months as both products come closer to their first appearance on the market, likely by the end of Q1.