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 - 12:42 AM | 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: Graphics Cards | January 2, 2012 - 07:03 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: General Tech | January 2, 2012 - 06:26 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Acer, Lenovo to launch Wintel tablet PC in 3Q12 @ DigiTimes
- Why The Radeon Gallium3D Performance Is Down @ Phoronix
- Who will take over AMD marketing for 2012? @ Kitguru
- Beginners Guides: 99 Performance Tips for Windows XP v1.7 @ PCSTATS
- Parrot AR.Drone @ techPowerUp
- Samsung Monochrome ML-2950ND Laser Printer Review @ Modsynergy
- NewerTech NuTouch Gloves Review @ circuitREMIX
- Magellan RoadMate Pro 9165T Review @ TechReviewSource
- Win DDR3 memory Kits courtesy of ADATA! @ Kitguru
- Patriot Viper Xtreme 8GB DDR3 1600MHz Contest @ Legit Reviews
Subject: Graphics Cards | December 26, 2011 - 05:05 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: Graphics Cards | December 21, 2011 - 12:26 PM | 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: General Tech | December 14, 2011 - 05:00 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: tahiti, radeon, pitcairn, overclock, HD7000, amd
One quickly forgets about the initially released reference GPUs once the cards with custom coolers, capacitors and PCBs arrive on the market all cool and factory overclocked. Usually the original GPU and card designer, in this case AMD, licenses theit top tier partners, like MSI , Gigabyte or Sapphire, to sell cards following a design that AMD provides along with the license to design and sell the cards. As SemiAccurate points out, this has lead to a market where the only unique feature they can add is usually armed and wearing a bikini. After the card has been on the market for a while, then AMD allows non-reference designs to appear for some cards from some manufacturers.
Not so with one of the four lineups of GPUs soon to arrive on the market, AMD will be freeing us from the tyranny of Ruby in different outfits and allow their partners to modify the Tahiti Pro cards from the get go. Expect to see a large difference in the appearance and specifications of AMD's new high end series of cards. That is the only one of the four to get this treatment, Tahiti, Pitcairn and Pitcairn XT cards will still come out only as copies of the reference card design. This may change over time but for now the idea of custom cooler, power distribution and PCB design is something to look forward to in the coming years.
"Back to the new news, and it concerns the Tahiti Pro card. Word has reached SemiAccurate that Tahiti Pro will be unconstrained to the normal reference designs. If you recall, most GPU manufacturers will force AIBs to make cards based on the reference design for the first 3 months or so, and there are a variety of very good business reasons to do this.
Unfortunately, it leads to a problem where the reviews all are the same, mainly because all the cards are the same. The main difference between manufacturers comes down to what color the AIB decides to put on the chrome bikini of the girl with the big sword riding the mythical beast just below their logo. We are partial to Hafnium bikini’s on women riding giant Were-moles around here. Luckily, Tahiti Pro changes this."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- NVIDIA Releases Source To CUDA Compiler @ Slashdot
- Global DRAM oversupply expected to fall to 13% in 1H12, say Taiwan makers @ DigiTimes
- Futuremark 3DMark 11 v1.0.3 Now Available on NGOHQ.com
- TP-Link TL-WR2543ND router @ The Inquirer
- TRENDnet TEW-691GR 450Mbps Wireless N Gigabit Router Review @ Real World Labs
- The Antec Giveaways: Part 2 @ AnandTech
Subject: Graphics Cards | December 10, 2011 - 12:05 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: tahiti, radeon, pitcaim, HD 7000, amd
AMD has had a good run with it’s 6000 series cards, but the show must go on and in that vein the company has been working on manufacturing their next generation of graphics cards. The new cards will be of the 7000 series variety and will be broken into the same two architecture model for the upper tier/performance parts and the budget and small form factor fitting parts with the Tahiti and Pitcairn GPUs respectively. As the launch window for the new graphics cards gets closer tidbits of information is starting to leak out. In fact, popular news and rumor site Fudzilla recently got their hands on a few leaked 7000 Series details!
Included in the leaks are information on the performance parts as well as the mid-range GPUs. On the Tahiti front, a photo of two AMD Radeon HD 7900 series cards in CrossfireX has emerged, showing the underside of the PCB, crossfire connectors, PCI-E power connectors and a possible opportunity for a math wiz to approximate the size of the card based on the known dimensions of that particular PSU (heh). Because there are 12 memory chips on the card, the site claims that the rumored 384-bit memory bus is all but confirmed. Further, the cards require both an 8 pin and 6 pin PCI-E PSU connector for power. These cars are engineering samples and things could change between now and release; however, the speculations seem reasonable. The Tahiti based graphics cards will allegedly be priced at $399 and $499 for the 7950 and 7970 respectively.
The Pitcairn GPU based cards will represent the mid-range of AMD’s 7000 series lineup. According to un-named sources, Fudzilla believes that AMD may be releasing the mid-range graphics cards around February 20th, 2012 or about a month after the Chinese New Year. The cards will be carrying similar naming conventions to their predecessor, including the Radeon HD 7850 and Radeon HD 7870. Due to Tahiti pricing, it’s likely that the mid-range 7000 series graphics cards will be priced at $199 USD for the 7850 and $299 USD for the Radeon 7870, at least until Nvidia’s Kepler arrives to shake up the pricing.
Personally, I’m excited for the 7000 series, and am anxious to see what kind of F@H and gaming performance I can wring out of it! Are you planning an upgrade next year, or will you skip this generation?