Completing the Family
When we went to Austin, Texas to sit with AMD and learn about the Radeon HD 7900 series of cards for the first time, an interesting thing happened. While the official meeting was about the performance of the Radeon HD 7970 and HD 7950, when things started to settle several AMD employees couldn't help but discuss Cape Verde (7700-series) and Pitcairn (7800-series) GPUs. In particular, the HD 7800 cards were generating a lot of excitement internally as a spiritual follow up to the wildly successful HD 5800 and HD 5700 series of cards in terms of price and performance characteristics.
So while the Radeon HD 7970 and HD 7950 are being labeled as the world's fastest GPUs, and the Radeon HD 7700 is the fastest GPU for everyone, the HD 7800s are where many of our readers will look when upgrading their machines while staying within a budget.
Be sure to check out our video review posted here and then continue on to our full, written review for all the benchmarks and analysis!!!
Subject: Graphics Cards | February 15, 2012 - 11:33 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: xfx, southern islands, hd 7770, hd 7750, cape verde, amd, radeon, factory overclocked
The days of the HD 6870 are numbered as today we see the arrival of the new sub-$200 GPUs from AMD, the HD7770 and HD7750. The stock HD 7770 run at 1GHz with 640 stream processors, 40 texture units and 16 ROPs and the 1GB of memory rides on a 128-bit bus at 4.5GHz. The stock HD7750 has a slower core, running at 800MHz and a lower stream processor count of 512 as well as only 32 Texture units, with the memory subsystem unchanged from the HD7770.
Those who were disappointed by the lack of custom coolers and factory overclocks at the release of the HD 7970 will be happy to see the variety of HD7700 series cards. For instance [H]ard|OCP reviewed the XFX R7770 Black Edition Super Overclocked which has a custom cooler, a 120MHz overclock on the core and a 300Mhz on the memory, effectively 5.2GHz. [H] proved that there is more memory headroom available in this card, adding another 1.1GHz without needing to adjust the voltage. For those who are willing to risk upping the power there might be even more speed possible from this card.
"Today marks the launch of AMD's Radeon HD 7700 series of GPUs in the sub-$200 bracket. We've got a retail XFX R7770 Black Edition Super Overclocked video card just itching to show us what it can do. Will this Radeon HD 7770 based video card hold up to the likes of the Radeon HD 6870 and GeForce GTX 560 Ti? You may be surprised."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- AMD's Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition @ The Tech Report
- Sapphire Radeon HD 7770 Overclocked Video Card @ Pro-Clockers
- AMD Radeon HD 7770 XT 1GB Graphics Card Review @ eTeknix
- AMD HD7770 @ OC3D
- AMD Radeon HD 7770 & 7750 @ Legion Hardware
- XFX & Sapphire Radeon HD 7770 Review @ Neoseeker
- Sapphire Radeon HD 7770 Overclock Edition 1GB Graphics Card Review @ eTeknix
- AMD Radeon HD 7750 & Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition Review: Evading The Price/Performance Curve @ AnandTech
- AMD HD7770 Cape Verde with “Verdetrol 1GHz” @ SemiAccurate
- AMD Radeon HD 7770 & 7750 Launch Review @ Neoseeker
- AMD Radeon HD 7750 Pro 1GB Graphics Card Review @ eTeknix
- HIS Radeon HD 7750 iCooler @ Funky Kit
- XFX & Sapphire HD 7770 1GB Review @ OCC
- HIS Radeon HD 7750 Graphics Card Review @ HardwareHeaven
- AMD Radeon HD 7770 and 7750 Video Card Reviews @ Legit Reviews
- MSI Radeon HD 7770 OC @ Guru of 3D
- HIS Radeon HD 7750 iCooler Video Card @ Benchmark Reviews
- AMD Radeon HD 7770 & Radeon HD 7750 @ Techspot
- XFX Radeon HD 7770 Jet Black Edition Super Overclock vs GTX 560 @ HardwareHeaven
- Sapphire HD 7770 Overclock Edition @ LanOC Reviews
- AMD Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition Video Card Review @ Hardware Secrets
- Sapphire Radeon HD 7770 OC Graphics Card Review @ HardwareHeaven
- AMD Radeon HD 7770 & HD 7750 Review @ Hardware Canucks
- TX3D HD7770 1GHZ Edition Crossfire @ Kitguru
- HIS HD7750 iCooler @ Kitguru
- Sapphire HD7770 1GHZ Overclock Edition @ Kitguru
- AMD Radeon HD 7750 and 7770 @ Guru of 3D
- AMD Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition 1 GB @ techPowerUp
Southern Islands Get Small
When AMD first started to talk to me about the upcoming Southern Islands GPUs they tried to warn me. Really they did. "Be prepared for just an onslaught of card releases for 2012," I was told. In much the same strategy the company took with the HD 6000 series of cards, the new Radeon HD 7000 cards have been trickling out, part by part, so as to make sure the name "AMD" and the brand "Radeon" are showing up as often as possible in your news feeds and on my keyboard. In late December we wrote our review of the Radeon HD 7970 3GB flagship card and then followed that up in January with a review of the Radeon HD 7950. In those briefings were told in a general way about Cape Verde, the Radeon HD 7700 series, and Pitcairn, the Radeon HD 7800 series, but without the details of performance, specifications or release dates. We have the answer for one more of these families now: Cape Verde.
Cape Verde is the smallest of the Southern Islands dies and falls into the sub-$175 graphics market depending on card vendors' pricing and overclocking settings. The real question we all wanted to know is what performance levels these new cards were going to offer and if they could be the TRUE successor to popular Radeon HD 5770. While the answer will take pages and pages of details to cement into place, I can say that while an impressive card, I wasn't as excited as I had wanted to be.
But I am getting ahead of myself... Check out our video review right here and then keep reading on for the full evaluation!!
AMD Cape Verde - the smallest of the Southern Islands
GPU companies like to brag when they are on top - you'll see that as a recurring theme in our story today. One such case is the success of the Radeon HD 5770 that mentioned above - it still today sits on the throne of the most adopted DX11 capable GPU on the Steam Hardware Survey, one of our best places for information on the general PC gamer.
While the inclusion of it, as well as the Radeon HD 5870 and HD 5850, on this list are great for AMD a couple of years ago, the lack of a 6000-series card here shows us that users need another reason to upgrade; another card that is mass market enough (ala under $200) and offers performance advantages that really push gamers to spend that extra cheddar.
Bring in the Cape Verde GPU...
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards | February 9, 2012 - 05:48 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: amd, radeon, southern islands
Working from home comes with a host of stereotypes and assumptions that the rest of world places on people like myself. I am often accused of working in my underwear, not showering through day-long stretches, not working and instead playing games all day and of course, being a drug dealer. And NOTHING perpetuates that vision from the outside world like an overnight UPS package arriving with the sound of rattling pills inside. This is what greeted me after my delivering smirked away:
In preparation for an upcoming graphics launch AMD thought up a pretty interesting marketing campaign geared around a "Verdetrol 1GHz" drug that will apparently help the reviewing community "enhance performance". Hmph.
Actually contained within are 28 jelly beans (get it, 28nm???) of a flavor I can't quite detect though I am guessing they are somehow related to this. And of course, these pills are for "external use only" - a healthy warning.
The telephone number is listed as 905-555-7770 so you can probably guess what the hubbub is all about.
And while the directions state to take one tablet daily by fan intake, we were never one to conform.
Subject: Graphics Cards | January 31, 2012 - 02:22 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: tahiti, southern islands, radeon, pcie 3.0, HD 7970, hd 7950, dx 11.1, amd, 28nm
A smattering of reviews of the newly released HD7950 have arrived to the web as the card that many enthusiasts have been waiting for finally arrives. The card does not differ significantly from the HD7970 with 1,792 Stream Processors down from 2,048, 112 Texture Units versus 128, a core clock 125MHz lower at 800MHz and 5GHz effective on memory versus 5.5GHz for the HD7970. Apart from those changes it is still the same silicon and the same 4.31 billion transistors which raises hopes that a similar BIOS mod to the one which allowed you to turn some HD6950s into HD6970s will exist for this card as well. [H]ard|OCP's testing shows the card to be better than a GTX580 but not enough to be an upgrade for current owners of that card but anyone with the ~$450 and an older card would do well to consider this car.
You can also see Ryan's take on this card alone as well as how it scales in CrossFire in our review here.
"The new Radeon HD 7950 marks the launch of AMD's more affordable Radeon HD 7900 series GPU. The Radeon HD 7950 is priced to compete with the GeForce GTX 580. We'll look at performance in comparison to several video cards in single-GPU, dual-GPU CrossFireX, Eyefinity, and Overclocking to see where it truly lands."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- AMD's Radeon HD 7950 @ The Tech Report
- AMD Radeon HD 7950 Review Feat. Sapphire & XFX: Sewing Up The High-End Market @ AnandTech
- XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Overclocked 3GB Graphics Card Video Review @ eTeknix
- XFX Radeon R7950 Black Edition Video Card @ Benchmark Reviews
- XFX & Sapphire HD 7950 3GB Review @ OCC
- XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation 3GB @ Tweaktown
- Sapphire 7950 Overclocked Edition Video Card Review @ Techwarelabs
- Sapphire HD 7950 OC @ Modders-Inc
- AMD Radeon HD 7950 & XFX R7950 Black Edition Video Card Review @ Legit Reviews
- PowerColor, Sapphire, XFX HD 7950 Review @ Neoseeker
- AMD Radeon HD 7950 Launch Review @ Neoseeker
- Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 3GB DDR5 Overclocked Version DX11.1 Video Card Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- Powercolor HD 7950 PCS+ @ Overclockers.com
- AMD Radeon HD 7950 Video Card Review @ Hardware Secrets
- Sapphire HD7950 Overclock Edition @ OC3D
- AMD Radeon HD 7950 Launch Articles @ HardwareHeaven
- XFX HD 7950 Black Edition Double Dissipation Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Sapphire HD 7950 Dual Fan OC Review @ Hardware Canucks
- AMD Radeon HD 7950 Review; Tahiti Pro Arrives @ Hardware Canucks
- XFX HD7950 Black Edition Overlocked @ Kitguru
- PowerColor HD 7950 PCS+ 3 GB @ techPowerUp
- XFX R7950 Black Edition @ OC3D
- HIS HD7950 @ Kitguru
- AMD Radeon HD 7950 3 GB @ techPowerUp
- HIS HD7950 @ OC3D
- XFX Radeon HD 7950 Black Edition Overclocked 3GB Graphics Card Review @ eTeknix
- HIS Radeon HD 7950 @ Guru of 3D
- PowerColor Radeon HD 7950 PCS+ @ Guru of 3D
- Radeon HD 7950 Crossfire review 2 and 3-way @ Guru of 3D
- AMD Radeon HD 7950 CrossFire @ techPowerUp
- Sapphire HD7950 Overlock Edition Crossfire @ Kitguru
- Overkill 3D - HD7950 Quadfire @ OC3D
- XFX HD 7970 Black Edition Double Dissipation 3 GB Review @ OCC
- The Radeon HD 7970 Reprise: PCIe Bandwidth, Overclocking, & The State Of Anti-Aliasing @ AnandTech
- Catalyst 12.1 Windows 7 Driver Analysis @ Tweaktown
- Desktop Graphics Card Comparison Guide @ TechARP
- Deepcool Gamer Storm Dracula VGA Cooler Review @ Hardware Secrets
- Swiftech Apogee HD Water Block Review @ OCIA
- Galaxy MDT GeForce GT 520 Review: Quad-Display Budget Card @ Techspot
Tahiti Gets Clipped
It has been just over a month since we first got our hands on the AMD Southern Islands architecture in the form of the Radeon HD 7970 3GB graphics card. It was then a couple of long weeks as we waited for the consumer to get the chance to buy that same hardware though we had to admit that the $550+ price tags were scaring many away. Originally we were going to have both the Radeon HD 7970 and the Radeon HD 7950 in our hands before January 9th, but that didn't pan out and instead the little brother was held in waiting a bit longer.
Today we are reviewing that sibling, the Radeon HD 7950 3GB GPU that offers basically the same technology and feature set with a slightly diminished core and a matching, slightly diminished price. In truth I don't think that the estimated MSRP of $449 is going to really capture that many more hearts than the $549 price of the HD 7970 did, but AMD is hoping that they can ride their performance advantage to as many profits as they can while they wait for NVIDIA to properly react.
Check out our video review right here and then continue on to our complete benchmarking analysis!!
Southern Islands Gets Scaled Back a Bit
As I said above, the Radeon HD 7950 3GB is pretty similar to the HD 7970. It is based on the same 28nm, DirectX 11.1, PCI Express 3.0, 4.31 billion transistor GPU and includes the same massive 3GB frame buffer as its older brother. The Tahiti GPU is the first of its kind of all of those facets but it has a few of the computational portions disabled.
If you haven't read up on the Southern Islands architecture, or Tahiti GPU based around it, you are missing quite a bit of important information on the current lineup of parts from AMD. I would very much encourage you to head over to our Radeon HD 7970 3GB Tahiti review and look over the first three pages as it provides a detailed breakdown of the new features and the pretty dramatic shift in design that Southern Islands introduced to the AMD GPU team.
Subject: Graphics Cards | January 26, 2012 - 02:12 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: xfx, GCN, asus, southern islands, radeon, pcie 3.0, dx 11.1, amd, 7970, 28nm
[H]ard|OCP recently came out with two HD7970 reviews, one made by ASUS and one by XFX. The ASUS Radeon HD 7970 is currently one of the least expensive choices at $559 and runs at the default speeds of 925MHz and 1375MHz. It does ship with ASUS' GPU Tweak utility to allow for easy overclocking if you wish to push the card like [H] did, in their case to 1125MHz on the GPU core, and 1695MHz GDDR5.
The other choice is the XFX R7970 Black Edition which is a custom card, overclocked to 1GHz on the core and 1425MHz GDDR5 but costs $50 more than the offering from ASUS. At the out of the box speeds, XFX's card both draws less energy and runs much cooler and was silent compared to the ASUS offering. Even after [H] overclocked the card to 1125MHz core and 1575MHz GDDR5, which was the maximum possible using AMD's Overdrive, it was almost silent when running full out.
The decision seems to be how much it is worth to you to have a quiet card and if you are willing to find a way to overclock beyond what the Catalyst Control Center can manage.
"We have the new XFX R7970 Black Edition video card to evaluate, which is XFX's current flagship Radeon HD 7970 based video card. With a custom PCB, custom hardware components and custom cooling fan, will it take us to new heights in overclocking, or leave us wishing we had just purchased a "reference" card?"
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- Sapphire AMD Radeon HD 6670 @ TechwareLab
- Sapphire HD 7970 3GB Video Cards in CrossFire Overclocked @ Tweaktown
- Asus HD7970 Tri Crossfire @ Kitguru
- ASUS Radeon HD 7970 DirectCU II Top Video Card @ Legit Reviews
- HIS Radeon HD 6570 IceQ @ Funky Kit
- Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 3GB Video Cards in 3-Way CrossFireX @ Tweaktown
- HIS 6670 1GB Fan @ XSReviews
- ASUS Radeon HD 7970 3GB CrossFire Review @ Legit Reviews
- An Open-Source, Reverse-Engineered Mali GPU Driver @ Phoronix
- Arctic Accelero XTREME Plus II VGA cooler Review @ XtremeComputing
- Graphics Card Overclocking: Is it really worth it? @ TechSpot
- KFA2 MDT X4 – GTX580 @ Kitguru
- Galaxy GeForce GT 440 2GB Review @ Neoseeker
- Galaxy GT 520 MDT Review @ OCC
- Nouveau For A $10 NVIDIA Graphics Card @ Phoronix
Subject: Graphics Cards | January 25, 2012 - 04:42 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: amd, radeon, HD 7970, 7970, southern islands, tahiti
If you have been looking for a Radeon HD 7970 graphics card since its official release on January 9th and our review on December 22nd, then you better hurry up, as Newegg is showing the cards as in stock as of today.
There are three listed, all at stock clock speeds:
Also, Amazon.com lists a few but only one as currently in stock (with 8 remaining!!). In reality, there aren't that many people interested in buying $550+ graphics cards but those of you that want the absolute fastest single GPU card on the planet, this is it.
You can check out review of the HD 7970 reference card right here!!
Subject: Processors | January 18, 2012 - 01:10 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: xbox next, IBM, amd, Power PC, southern islands, xbox 720, oban
SemiAccurate has been doing some digging into the hardware that will power the next XBox, perhaps a bit more successfully than Microsoft would like. This builds on the rumours that they had collected in December of 2011 and confirms that the next generation console is only a partial win for AMD. Oban is the code name for the CPU, which is being fabbed by GLOBALFOUNDRIES for the most part and will be a variant model of IBM's Power PC architecture and not an x86 based chip. AMD will provide a Graphics Core Next Southern Islands GPU to provide the graphical power, terrible news for NVIDIA's bottom line over the next several years as they lose out on at least one platform of the coming generation. This will continue to sting as unlike PCs, consoles are not refreshed several times over a year and the current hardware will likely be powering the XBox Next for years to come.
From what SemiAccurate has gathered, Microsoft have ordered a huge run of the chips which will power the console and should guarantee availability in the Spring of 2013 which is the current predicted release date for the console. Considering the low yields from GLOBALFOUNDRIES lately this seems likely a move to ensure that even a large amount of bad silicon will not have a major impact on their ability to provide deep supplies of XBox Next for retailers.
"If you crave more info about the upcoming XBox 720/Next, there is finally some concrete info. The one nice thing about this job is that proud parents like to talk, and that is exactly where this story begins."
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- AMD A8 3870K @ Guru3D
- AMD Llano A8 3870K @ LostCircuits
- A8-3870K vs. Core i3-2105 CPU Review @ Hardware Secrets
- AMD A8-3870K: Black Edition Llano @ Bjorn3D
- The Workstation & Server CPU Comparison Guide @ The Tech Report
- Intel Sandy Bridge Shines With Mesa 8.0 @ Phoronix
- Intel SNA Architecture Is Constantly Evolving @ Phoronix
- Title: Intel's Medfield Still A Botched Binary Mess Under Linux? @ Phoronix
Subject: Graphics Cards | January 2, 2012 - 04:23 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.