With the launch of Windows 7 and DirectX 11 on October 22, many video card buyers are already looking for DX11 cards in order be ready for the latest games and to future-proof their systems. ATI is giving the public that option by launching the Radeon 5800 series today.
The Radeon HD 5870 and the Radeon HD 5850 both use the same GPU core, previously codenamed Cypress. Comprised of 2.15 billion transistors, it has almost three times as many transistors as Intel's Core i7 CPU. The Radeon 5870 runs at a core clock of 850MHz, while the Radeon 5850 runs at 725MHz.
The Radeon 5870 has an impressive 1600 Stream processors and is capable of delivering up to 2.72 teraFLOPS. It is the most powerful single GPU video card currently available and will sell for around $379 at e-tailers. Meanwhile, the Radeon 5850 has 1440 Stream processors and will be priced around $259. Both cards are paired with 1GB of GDDR5 memory, and will use a dual slot design.
One of the more interesting things that ATI is doing is called Eyefinity. It allows the use of up to three monitors together through a single video card. All cards in the 5800 series will have two dual-link DVI ports, a HDMI port, and a DisplayPort. Since a TMDS transmitter is needed for each DVI or HDMI port, the use of a DisplayPort monitor or adapter is needed to use the third monitor. Eyefinity is capable of support three displays at a resolution of up to 2560x1600, but future models will support up to six monitors.
Power efficiency is something that the computer industry as a whole has been moving towards. The Radeon 5870 has an idle board power of 27 watts, compared to 90 watts with the Radeon HD 4870. This due to better power circuitry and a greater reduction in clock speed at idle. Unlike newer CPUs, it does not have the ability to shut down idle processors, but that is something that is inevitable in the future in GPUs.
ATI first introduced the 40nm process with the RV740 core used in the Radeon HD 4770. With the second generation process from TSMC, ATI's yields are quite high on the 40nm node. DailyTech has been told that the launch is "rock hard" and there will be products available today.
Being the first DX11 parts, there is a huge pent-up demand that will take several weeks to dissipate. Availability is therefore expected to be tight for the next two weeks. However, demand is expected to rise again around the October 22 launch of Windows 7.
Most video card manufacturers are expected to use the reference design to save costs, but some are already planning modifications to the cooler in order to enable better overclocking or less noise.
ATI has plans to ship more DirectX 11 parts in the near future. Hemlock combines two Cypress cores together into a Radeon HD 5870 X2 configuration, while Juniper will be the 5800 series equivalent of the Radeon 4830 selling at the $199 price point.
DirectX 11 hits the mainstream early next year with two mainstream products. It is likely to be known as the Radeon 5600 series comprised of the Radeon HD 5670 and Radeon HD 5650. Ultimately, the technology seen in the Radeon 5800 will move into mobile computers and integrated chipsets over the next year.