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New corporate guidance sets AMD's big launch date; RV670 specifications fail to leave much to the imagination

AMD's current launch date for its next-generation desktop processor, Phenom, its next-generation desktop chipset, RD790, and its next-generation graphics processor, RV670, is tenatively set for November 19, 2007.

The story of Phenom and RD790 is all but a done deal.  Phenom's big brother, server-based Barcelona, met mediocre fanfare while RD790 production boards have surfaced here and there for almost a year.

Radeon HD 3800, previously codenamed RV670, was a little bit more of a mystery, at least until this weekend.  AMD publicly announced RV670 would entail a process node shrink of Radeon HD 2900 (R600) -- a move from 80nm to 55nm.

AMD guidance leaked to media last week also elaborated on the company's DirectX 10.1 superiority.  Typically, media leaks that occur just before competition launches (in this case NVIDIA's GeForce 8800 GT) detail incredible performance gains -- the push for next-generation DirectX support did not fit the status quo for a GPU launch.

Another leak came this weekend when a serendipitous visit to the Diamond Multimedia website revealed exact details of three new Radeons: one low-end SKU, a high-end GDDR3 SKU and a high-end GDDR4 SKU. Google Cache details all three offerings.

The lower-end Radeon HD 3850 will only feature 256MB of onboard GDDR3 running at 825 MHz, and a core frequency of at least 660 MHz.

Higher-end Radeon HD 3870 will feature GDDR4 instead of GDDR3 while using the same RV670 core found on HD 3850.  This GDDR4 memory is clocked at 1.2 GHz, and the core frequency is bumped to 775 MHz.  The GDDR3 version of HD 3870 will feature the same core frequency as the GDDR4 card, but comes standard with lower frequency GDDR3 instead of GDDR4 to target a better price point.

The red flag is that Radeon HD 3850 touts exactly the same features found on the 80nm Radeon HD 2900 design with the exception of reduced GDDR3 memory.  HD 3850 will reduce the thermal envelope when compared to the previous generation, but performance should be nearly identical to Radeon HD 2900.

Radeon HD 3870, on the other hand, is an ambitious bump from the older generation.  The 775 MHz core frequency represents up to a 100 MHz increase, while the memory receives a 400 MHz gift over R600's GDDR4 implementation.

A memo circulated from ATI design teams to third-party vendors indicated that vendors will have the ability to set memory and core clock frequencies independently, so each vendor's card will perform at slightly different frequencies.

Other noteable features of RV670 include Quad Crossfire support and AMD's Triple Play physics support.

Radeon HD 2900 XT caused a ruckus when it was learned that the card did not include a Universal Video Decoder, as advertised.  Third party Radeon manufacturers could not confirm or deny that this decoder is in place for RV670, though the argument for R600 was that it's processing power is capable enough to not need an HD accelerator via hardware.  This may easily be the case for RV670 as well.

Pricing on RV670 has not been confirmed. However, given that Radeon HD 3850 is essentially Radeon HD 2900 in a single-slot design, it's easy to expect AMD will price those cards similarly to R600 cards available today.

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Pricing Strategy
By honorabili on 11/5/2007 1:06:35 PM , Rating: 2
Hopefully, if these cards will not be faster than the current nVidia generation then at least they will be priced aggressively, like maybe around $150 for the low end, +$75 for each model up. Then there might be an actual market for these cards.

RE: Pricing Strategy
By retrospooty on 11/5/2007 1:39:38 PM , Rating: 5
If we have 512 mb 8800GT that is 95% as fast as an 8800GTX, selling for $200 as expected, AMD will have to go alot lower than $150 on the low end.

The 8800GT is already beating the 2900XT, which sells in the upper $300's.

RE: Pricing Strategy
By SavagePotato on 11/5/2007 2:27:13 PM , Rating: 3
The 8800GT came as such a shock that it is in fact still shocking. I damn near ordered one over my old 7900gtx just off the surprise of it alone.

It is most certainly not a normal situation by any means to have a $250 card that when overclocked can actualy beat out an 8800gtx. It is totaly unprecedented to say the least.

The thing is this GT totaly obsoletes both ATI and Nvidias entire lineup, It's a pretty bold move by Nvidia I don't totaly understand. In the end I think I will be able to sit tight long enough to wait and see what the next generation of entusiast cards offer (r700 and g90)

RE: Pricing Strategy
By retrospooty on 11/5/2007 4:58:09 PM , Rating: 3
"he thing is this GT totaly obsoletes both ATI and Nvidias entire lineup,"

Yes, it did, although the GTX is still faster at high res w/ AA - and if you paid $500+ you better be using it at high res with AA. Still the GT is close enough that it will cannibalize sales of the GTX. the only answer is that NV must have a high end part based on the new .65nm GPU coming very soon. They wouldnt just kill thier high end, they have a new one on the way, that is cheaper for them to make and thus more profitable to get rid of all the .90nm GPU's.

RE: Pricing Strategy
By StevoLincolnite on 11/5/2007 5:38:18 PM , Rating: 2
It almost reminds me of the Geforce 4 Ti4200 where that card was aggressively priced, and with a little bit of over clocking can even almost match the Ti4600 at the time.

I'm actually disappointed in ATI at the moment, I always loved they're Mobility Radeons from back in the day (9600 Pro Turbo, 9700 Pro, 9800 which could be modded into a x850).
Now it seems they won't be pushing the performance envelope for awhile, which means those same numbers will trickle down onto us Mobile gamers.

One little annoying thing... Why isn't there a decent low end part?
The last "Decent" Performing low-end parts in the past that really "shocked me" was the Geforce 6200(Some could be modded into a 6600) and the X1300XT.

RE: Pricing Strategy
By Axbattler on 11/6/2007 9:08:42 AM , Rating: 2
Succeeding the Ti4200 would be a modded, overclocked Radeon 9500 (non pro).

I think that the 8800GT may well be a win/win strategy for nVidia and consumers. Not every enthusiast would be willing to pay the cost of a GTX even to have the 'best'. It's already been a year since it's release, so the product is pretty much as it's mature stage. Rather than cutting the cost of the GTX too aggressively , they release a card that is almost as good, that, assuming there were no major problem with the die shrink, cost them less to manufacture.

Sure they probably could have gotten away with pricing it a little higher more (especially with the current high demand/low supply in the UK, the stock available to buy right now cost a little more), they definitely one up AMD by having a card priced at a cost most enthusiast would have trouble to refuse, and coinciding it with the release of a highly demanding game (Crysis). I'd say that the 8800GT totally overshadows the 2900Pro, which would otherwise have been the choice for price/performance hunters. Okay, they also harm their own GTS line, but again, the manufacturing process should (at least eventually) be cheaper.

RE: Pricing Strategy
By Jodiuh on 11/6/2007 1:55:19 PM , Rating: 2
It's MUCH faster @ hi res, AA...almost 50% in some games. The lower amount of physical ram + bandwidth sadden me. :( But then we'll have something fresh soon, right? :D

RE: Pricing Strategy
By Cunthor666 on 11/5/2007 4:08:19 PM , Rating: 2
That sums it up pretty well :)

By AlphaVirus on 11/5/2007 3:57:35 PM , Rating: 2
I have been an AMD/ATI fan for a while because they usually make nice products but this naming scheme is just wild.
I am sure its confusing both the consumer and Intel and NVidia but there should be an easier way of doing this.

R-what? 6-what? Unless there is something I missed, can there be a little relevance in these numbering systems.

By MattCoz on 11/5/2007 4:16:17 PM , Rating: 2
Consumers shouldn't care what the internal numbering schemes are, it's not like you'll see RV670 in any product names. But there is relevance. RD = Desktop chipset, RV = Video. 670 is a refresh of the 600.

By EricMartello on 11/6/2007 5:06:39 AM , Rating: 1
I second the confusing naming schemes...not the chip codes, but the actual model names. You would think that a Radeon x1600 would be faster than an x800 because it's a bigger number and its a newer card...but that's not the case. Why not? I don't know, but isn't that confusing? The only reason I know that the x1600 is slower is from reading reviews and such...but without those, I could only wonder. I'd like there to be some standardized component performance rating system that somehow aggregates performance and lets you compare hardware without having to read reviews to figure out the performance level of a given component.

By Axbattler on 11/7/2007 4:37:12 AM , Rating: 2
Big number sell. Ghz, Megapixels, MB (for video memory) - remember the fillrate war?

And some cards are simply better/worse than other cards depending on the application. There are performance rating system. I believe Vista has a simple one, while 3DMarks generally often used for enthusiasts and the closest thing you'll get to an aggregate. Yet even the later can be criticised as been synthetic, susceptible to 'optimisation', who is to say that the way they aggregate the numbers is appropriate?

That's not to say that I have no problem with the naming conventions (but I have more of an issue with hard drives, where not only do you have many variety for the same capacity, but different firmwares in the same model can significantly affect the drive too). Doubling the numbers for adding support of SM 3.0 *is* a bit pushing it in my opinion (though I note that the X1600 is faster than the X800 in some shadder intensive apps). But if you want to know more than non-enthusiasts, you'll have to at least read the conclusion of a review.

By chsh1ca on 11/5/2007 3:33:19 PM , Rating: 3
is tennatively set for November 19, 2007.

I believe you mean tentatively .

RE: Correction...
By PhoenixOrion on 11/5/2007 3:41:42 PM , Rating: 3
and "AMD publically announced RV670"

I believe you mean publicly

By phaxmohdem on 11/5/2007 12:35:41 PM , Rating: 2
AMD needs to release something with a WOW factor pretty soon. (ala 8800GT) They are just kind if in the background lately. Perhaps if these end up being single slot solutions priced competitively with the 8800GT we would have something to talk about.

Here's to hoping.

RE: Meh...
By KristopherKubicki on 11/5/2007 12:53:53 PM , Rating: 2
I didn't mention it in the article, but NVIDIA also has a refresh on G92 coming in early December for 8800 GTS.

By NICOXIS on 11/5/2007 3:57:47 PM , Rating: 3
while RD790 production boards have surfaced here and there for almost a year.

maybe a month xD

By bryanW1995 on 11/5/2007 9:34:05 PM , Rating: 3
several errors in this blog. 743 is the default core clock of 2900xt, which is only 32 mhz lower than the 775 of the diamond card with the leaked specs. You must have confused 2900xt with 2900 pro. 3850 is not "essentially a hd2900 in a single slot design" since it's only 256 bit instead of 512. Also, there is not a chance in hell of them pricing these cards anywhere close to current R600 pricing since 8800gt is quite a bit less expensive than R600 and, based upon the published specs, it's going to absolutely destroy rv670's performance.

HDMI 1.3?
By DigitalFreak on 11/5/2007 1:01:02 PM , Rating: 2
Any word on HDMI 1.3 support in the RV670 cards?

By ImmortalZ on 11/5/2007 1:55:02 PM , Rating: 2
I've been reading a lot on B3D. If ATI fixes whatever that was holding back AA performance on the R600, they very well might have a winner.

If a tree falls in the forest..
By DukeN on 11/5/2007 8:59:59 PM , Rating: 2
is it because of all the paper launches by AMD/ATI?

Let's see when this actually comes out and how it performs price/performance wise.

I don't understand
By MFK on 11/6/2007 1:07:02 AM , Rating: 2
The graphics industry unanimously decided to stop following the cycle it has been following since before Geforce 4?

I mean if Nvidia got lazy and decided not to release a refresh and then a new architecture this year, why did AMD/ATi not capitalize on that fact? And how DARE AMD/ATi release a refresh part with a next-gen model number?

Sorry if im missing some key information from the past few months, bury this comment, but please explain in your replies!


By wingless on 11/6/2007 1:57:49 AM , Rating: 2
At 55nm I hope they can overclock well. AMD really needs enthusiast level performance out of these cards. That includes the ability to tweak to the user's delight. I can't wait to see how they fare against the 8800GT. That's the Billion dollar question.

By Gul Westfale on 11/5/07, Rating: -1
RE: so...
By semo on 11/5/07, Rating: -1
RE: so...
By Targon on 11/5/2007 12:53:31 PM , Rating: 3
If you re-read the article, it indicates that the LOW END part looks a lot like the 2900XT except with less memory. If that is the low end, then the high end should be quite a bit better. The die shrink to 55nm should also help in a number of ways.

The name, RV670 also is a good indication that while the models are Radeon 3000 series cards, this is not the true next generation. The die shrink and other improvements of these new cards may very well bring ATI/AMD back to performance parity with NVIDIA's G92. We will need to see how that goes.

In addition to this is the whole idea of a full platform being released. We may see some very good performance improvements across the board due to the new chipset as well as the new processors and video cards. Being able to go beyond 2-card Crossfire to 3 card with a Radeon HD 3850 may do some interesting things in terms of price vs. performance. Hmmmm, 3 of the 3850 cards may cost only $300 total or so, and the combined performance in Crossfire mode may be a very interesting thing to see.

RE: so...
By dubldwn on 11/5/2007 2:01:46 PM , Rating: 2
Being able to go beyond 2-card Crossfire to 3 card with a Radeon HD 3850 may do some interesting things in terms of price vs. performance.

We need a 512 version of the 3850, or a single slot 3870 to pull this off right. Well, unless you can fit four duel slots on a board. Otherwise, even with quad, we’re still stuck with a 256 frame buffer, which no longer cuts it.

RE: so...
By Treckin on 11/5/2007 4:14:13 PM , Rating: 2
I think the article mentioned that they were all single slot configurations... just to lazy to go find the quote.

RE: so...
By Master Kenobi on 11/5/2007 12:56:59 PM , Rating: 1
Not to slam AMD, but with the Athlon they had an architecture that was very good, since then improvements and features have continued to keep it good. They have not produced anything new that has WOWed anyone since. Barcelona was pretty lame at launch (Remains to be seen if improved clock speeds later might save it), and Phenom should be out soon to see if that can WOW people, on the graphics side they are downright pathetic. For the first time in 8 years I actually bought an nVidia card rather than ATI, simply because I like to buy high end performance and ATI doesn't have anything close to the 8800GTX. Absolutely pathetic.

RE: so...
By naturallywicky on 11/5/2007 1:14:00 PM , Rating: 1
Well if the performance is not a whole lot better than the current HD2900xt, at least the pricing should be. The problem with the R600 is you still have to rely on very efficient games and drivers, those 320 shaders in the super scaler architecture give you plenty of raw power but if your application and drivers are unable to effectively generate as many independent instructions as possibe, your not going to get high efficiency and many units will remain idle which will hurt performance. Nvidia's scalar architecture does not have this disadvantage, which is why you can see more consistent performance from it where as the R600 performance varies wildly from very poor to exactly what you would hope for. AMD has done well with their driver improvements to help things but you can only do so much by yourself, if the applications don't take advantage of what you have to offer under the hood, you cant change that without changing the game. In this second generation of R600 products if AMD has optimized their recompiler of shaders and applications now and in production are optimizing or improving the way they use this super scalar architecture, then we may see a greater performance advantage over current R600 products and a closer competitor to what Nvidia is offering.

A superior architecture (if one can take the liberty of calling AMDs means to an end better) doesnt always boil down to the faster product. AMDs approach may prove to have more lasting performance in newer games, but its hard to judge when or if they will pull ahead.. And with this new 55nm production process perhaps the leakage problems that plauged the R600 have been fixed and these cards may scale well beyond 800-900mhz that the 80nm R600 typically had seen with overclockers. If this is the case and power consumption takes a nice plunge, AMD may have a superior product with RV670 that out classes R600 on many fronts.

From what I understand this 3800 series will be the new upper mid range and high end products, much like the 8600GTS and 8800GT, only AMD is doing it across more price points and with more products, which is a smart thing to do when your product proves slower in many of todays big games. If you cant take the performance crown, focus on making as many sales as you can. AMD will not beat G80/G92 in gaming numbers this year, but with a strong product line up and competitive prices there is no reason why these cards should be a failure.

The problem with the hd2900 line up was that it consisted of 1 card from the get go...HD2900xt was their only premium card and it was officially classed as a high end card to compete against the 8800GTS. The 2600 series was weaker than hoped but lets face it the 8600 series were not much stronger. And the low end of things (8500/HD2400) barely matched the previous low end. When AMD brought in the the HD2900 pro they had great success simply because of the price, they had nothing in that $250 price tag previously. And the HD2900GT will prove a nice card to sit behind the HD2900 pro and infront of the HD2600xt, problem is both these cards were slow to market in and weak supply (GT hasnt even launched yet, and who knows it if even will).

So if they have a decent line up and products that match or surpass the hd2900xt in performance and carry with it a lower price tag, they have a winner I'd say.

RE: so...
By drank12quartsstrohsbeer on 11/5/2007 3:28:42 PM , Rating: 2
both companies make the majority of their money on the low to middle price segment. enthusiasts aren't nearly as profitable.

RE: so...
By xti on 11/5/2007 6:49:45 PM , Rating: 2
above post speaks the truth. enthusiasts/geeks are a very tiny piece of the pie

RE: so...
By Lightning III on 11/5/2007 1:28:44 PM , Rating: 5
Price will tell,

a die shrink and a hundred mghz boost isn't the same and with driver optimization's the 2900XT is not all that far back its trading back and forth depending on which game your playing

also with the shrink and the new phenom 89watt tdp & mobo 8 or 15 ( i've seen both numbers ) watt tdp you should be able to do crossfire w/400 watt psu and quad crossfire with a 600 watt psu

I guess after this launch you will only need a 1200 watt psu if your running a nvidia platform

the 80nm R600 didn't scale well due to leakage lets see what 55nm can do to fix that

ooh and the obsidian order are a bunch of pansy romulan wannabees

By excrucio on 11/5/07, Rating: -1
By Donkeyshins on 11/5/2007 3:20:43 PM , Rating: 3 about Half-Life 2 and anything else from Valve? They've been 'Optimized for ATI' since they released.

By FITCamaro on 11/5/2007 5:31:25 PM , Rating: 2
I'd prefer the playing field to be even. The same optimizations on one side should be done on the other.

And as much as I love AMD, the 6000+ was not keeping up with the C2Ds. It matched their midrange. Intel's high end destroyed them. And that was just at stock clock speeds. The Core 2 architecture OCs very well. AMD not so much. They can't really go beyond 3.2 GHz very well.

By Pryde on 11/6/2007 12:12:31 AM , Rating: 1
Since the C2D launch AMD have only been competitive @ stock, AMD can't touch my E6600 @ 3.8Ghz (water).

The new Phenom will be a bust at their current pricing,

Intel Yorksfield Q9300 2.5Ghz 45nm 6mb L2 @ $270
AMD Phenom 9500 2.2GHz 65nm 4mb L3 @ $280

Phenom either needs to either beat intel clock for clock, OC like crazy or offer better price/preformance before I buy a AMD again.

I will prob not go quad until intel drops below $200 or 32nm nehelam which AMD better hope ATI is doing better or they have something up their sleeve cuz it looks like they have another 2+ years before they even stand a chance of returning to the glory of the XP/64/X2 days

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