More HD 7970 reviews that you would want to shake a stick at

Subject: Graphics Cards | January 2, 2012 - 11:03 AM |
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.

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"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."

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Source: Guru of 3D

Finally a trip to the Southern Isles; AMD's new HD 7970

Subject: General Tech | January 2, 2012 - 10:26 AM |
Tagged: tahiti, HD 7970, 28nm, southern islands

With 2,048 stream processors, 3GB of GDDR5 memory, and DVI,  HDMI and a pair of mini-Displayport outputs the new HD 7970 can support six displays and might even have the power to do it well.  Internal reviews, which are to be taken with your daily allowance of NaCl, suggest a 70-90% jump in performance when compared to the previous generation of AMD GPUs.  This all comes at a cost however, with a ~$700 price tag being predicted for the base model and unfortunately that is likely what you will get.  Even though AMD opened up the specifications for their manufacturers, allowing them to set whatever clock speeds and cooling solutions they desired it seems that most companies opted to go with the reference model, at least for now.   The other cost is power; the new 28nm process allows extremely low powered idling but as the card requires both an 8 pin and a 6 pin PCIe power connector you can be assured the card will use a lot of power when going full out, especially if you utilize the automatic 33% overclock that is enabled by the Powertune application mentioned by The Inquirer in their article.

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"CHIP DESIGNER AMD has released the Radeon HD 7970 based on its Tahiti GPU chip.

AMD's Radeon HD 7970 is the first graphics board design based on its 28nm Southern Islands Tahiti GPU. The chip, which AMD claims has 4.3bn transistors, has been significantly changed from the previous Northern Islands generation Cayman Radeon HD 6970, has more on-chip cache and the firm claims it has greater overclocking headroom."

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Source: The Inquirer

AMD Radeon HD 7700-series Details Leak - $149, 896 SPs, 128-bit

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 30, 2011 - 07:23 AM |
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.

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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.

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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!  

Source: Fudzilla

AMD Radeon HD 7990 Dual-GPU Card Coming Q1 2012

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 26, 2011 - 09:05 AM |
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. 

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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.

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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.  

Source: Softpedia
Author:
Manufacturer: AMD

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.

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Continue reading our review of the AMD Radeon HD 7970 3GB graphics card and Southern Islands architecture!!

More rumours on AMD's multi-aliased next generation GPU

Subject: General Tech | November 18, 2011 - 09:22 AM |
Tagged: amd, GCN, southern islands, HD7000

 Over at SemiAccurate you can find some information on AMD's next generation of GPU, some call it Graphics Next Core, HD7000 is likely and Southern Islands is common parlance as well ... just don't call it Tim.  The biggest news is the 384-bit memory bus which continues AMD's opposition to NVIDIA's lowered RAM size; there will be 3GB cards for those with monitors large enough to benefit from the larger memory size.  They also have pricing; subject to much change of course.

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"AMD logoIt looks like AMD (NYSE:AMD) is planning on launching desktop HD7000 GPUs in January, and SemiAccurate just got a few more bits about them. There isn’t much new, January launch for Tahiti XT, followed by Tahiti Pro a month later, then Pitcairn XT in March, Pro in April."

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Source: SemiAccurate

A milquetoast reception to the next generation of GPUs

Subject: General Tech | October 26, 2011 - 08:56 AM |
Tagged: gpu, amd, nvidia, southern islands, kepler, TSMC, 28nm

While most enthusiasts are living up to the name as far as the build up to the coming GPU refreshes from both AMD and NVIDIA is concerned, the manufacturers are quite the opposite.  There are several probable reasons for this attitude, not least of which are the number of HD 6570s and GTS 450s that are still in their stock.  Remember those cards from back in the spring of this year, which were the high end of a huge range of GPUs from both companies spanning $20 to either side of $100?  Think that with the current generation of Llano and SandyBridge that any knowledgeable person is going to purchase one, let alone when you consider how close the release of next generation of APUs is?  The two major players in the discrete GPU market not only updated the top end of their cards quickly over the past several quarters there was a widening of the market which saw current generation cards available from ~$75 to ~$750 with some segments separated by as little as $10.  That translates to huge inventories at the manufacturer level which they then have to convince resellers and retailers to purchase for stock to sell to the consumer and many of those cards are still sitting there collecting dust.  No wonder these same companies are leery of purchasing more stock before finding a way to recover some profit from the stock they have now.

To make things even worse there exist doubts about the 28nm process from TSMC, which DigiTimes discusses here.  While AMD is still claiming delivery of HD7000 family cards before the coming year, the troubles that NVIDIA seems to be having with the same process concerns those who need to be able to buy large volumes of chips in order to turn a profit selling graphics cards.  Even worse is the realization that the first cards NVIDIA will be releasing are simply a die shrink, without architectural changes.  When two companies go to the same source for the same thing and one reports getting apple cider and the other apple vinegar, you really have to start to wonder what is really going on. 

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"While Nvidia and AMD are poised to use Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's (TSMC's) 28nm technology to produce the GPUs Kepler and Southern Islands respectively, most Taiwan-based graphics card makers hold a conservative attitude about the new GPUs with some makers cautiously watching the market status before making any further decisions, according to industry sources.

Compared to the makers' eagerness for the previous-generation GPUs, graphics card makers are rather conservative about the upcoming 28nm chips due to concerns such as TSMC's weak 40nm process yield rate issues may re-occur in its 28nm process and weakening demand for graphics cards and lower-than-expected gross margins."

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Source: DigiTimes

AMD May Release 28nm 7000 HD Series GPU In December

Subject: Graphics Cards | October 15, 2011 - 09:34 AM |
Tagged: amd, gpu, graphics card, southern islands, HD 7000

Tom’s Hardware reports that a source within AMD has indicated that the company may release their upcoming Southern Islands GPU earlier than expected.  Previous rumors suggested that AMD would have their performance desktop graphics cards out in the first quarter of 2012 with the lower clocked and mobile processors coming out a bit sooner than that.

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If this new information turns out to be true, we may be seeing the high performance desktop graphics cards released in limited quantities of 7000 to 10,000 units in December with a full rollout of the company’s 28nm graphics card lineup in the months following.  Specifically, the first cards may be available as soon as December 6th, 2011.  It remains to be seen whether or not the lower power cards will still be released before the high performance desktop cards.

Personally, I'm interested to see how AMD's approach with their Southern Islands GPU will match up against Nvidia's current and future (more) general purpose computing design.  Are you excited for Southern Islands?

AMD's sequel; we hope Trinity does better at the box office than Neo did

Subject: General Tech | August 31, 2011 - 08:34 AM |
Tagged: amd, comal, virgo, trinity, piledriver, bulldozer, orochi, southern islands, dragon

AMD is showing off their stuff down in Texas right now and there are reports of what is being shown off slowly appearing.  First to the plate is SemiAccurate with a slide detailing the next generation of Bulldozer as well as a new variant called Piledriver.  The new Orochi Bulldozers are said to offer a 35% increase in the performance of server tasks and many techs will be glad to hear it is a drop in upgrade, no hours of reconfiguration needed.

The enthusiast will be more interested in Piledriver which is a renovated Bulldozer core, finessing the existing architecture to squeeze half again as many gigaflops out of Comal and Virgo when compared to Llano.  They've also included the HD7000 family, aka the Southern Islands family of GPUs into the announcement as well.  We know that the new generation of APUs are well ahead of schedule and we can hope that the GPU side has also at least kept up with expectations if the scarcity of the HD6950 and HD6970 mean what we hope it means.  Drop by for the specs on the GPUs and more at SemiAccurate.

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"It looks like Trinity, aka the next generation big APU, is going to be everything the rumors suggest. At Global Foundries GTC conference today, they foundry confirmed many of the rumors that are floating."

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Source: SemiAccurate

Southern Island is ahead of the pack, but it is set to low power for now

Subject: General Tech | July 20, 2011 - 09:25 AM |
Tagged: southern islands, nvidia, gpu, amd, 28nm

Thanks to some information garnered by SemiAccurate we have a very good idea of AMD's release plans for their new GPU family, what we have been referring to as Southern Islands.  The confusion that we felt from AMD's announcement that Southern Island parts would be ready sooner than expected arose from the reported difficulties that TSMC was having with their 28nm HKMG process.  Thankfully someone had a chance to take apart some 28nm TSMC field programmable arrays and inside found a HKMG design modified for lower power states than the original specs.  That doesn't mean cellphone level graphics performance but certainly means that the first GPUs we see from Southern Islands will not be the high end cards.  AMD did the same thing with previous generations of GPUs, so the release schedule is becoming a habit, even if not what would be preferred.

There are other side effects to this choice by AMD and TSMC which are probably going to hurt NVIDIA, who are hoping to get full power Kepler based GPUs out at the beginning of next year.  Since NVIDIA tends towards more aggressive clocks, the experience that TSMC has with what is called the HPL 28nm process will not necessarily help NVIDIA's HKMG 28nm process.  SemiAccurate has more.

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"The final piece of the TSMC 28nm HKMG process puzzle was put in place at SemiCon last week, it now makes sense. Chipworks got ahold of a Xilinx Kintex-7 FPGA, and it revealed a few secrets on the operating table.

If you recall, AMD is on track to put out Southern Islands chips much earlier than most people, SemiAccurate included, expected, possibly even this quarter. The real question is what process they are going to make it on, the TSMC 40nm SiON or 28nm HKMG? 40nm would be big, hot, and limited, think volcanic island more than Southern, while the 28nm SHP HKMG process wasn’t supposed to be ready until late Q1, best case. The short story is that Southern Islands is very likely not on either one."

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Source: SemiAccurate