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ATI keeps punching, but when will Nvidia fight back?

ATI has been enjoying a lot of success with its GPUs for the last year and a half, but it has hit new highs over the last two months by launching four new graphics cards supporting DirectX 11. The Radeon HD 5800 series was first out for enthusiasts in September, followed by the Radeon HD 5700 series for mainstream gamers.

As the only provider of DirectX 11 GPUs out there, the graphics division of AMD can afford to take a slower paced approach to product launches. However, the company has decided to launch one more product just before Black Friday and the start of the Christmas shopping season.

“With the arrival of the ATI Radeon HD 5970, the fastest graphics card in the world, we’ve cemented AMD as the unquestioned graphics leader,” said Matt Skynner, Vice President and General Manager of AMD's Graphics Group. “With the holiday shopping season right around the corner, the new card, coupled with the awesome power of ATI Eyefinity technology, is the ultimate setup for serious gamers.”

The Radeon HD 5970 is targeted squarely at bleeding edge enthusiasts who will settle for nothing but the best. ATI is moving away from its X2 nomenclature in order to more fully differentiate its highest end product. It combines two Cypress cores used in the Radeon HD 5870 together in a single graphics card. The new card uses a second generation PLX bridge in order to combine the power of the two chips more effectively.

Using two 40nm Cypress chips allows the new card to have double the Stream Processors and ROPs of the Radeon 5870. However, the chips and GDDR5 RAM are only clocked at the same level as the Radeon HD 5850 in order to conserve power. The board is rated for maximum power consumption of 294W, and only consumes 42W at idle.

Those concerned more with performance than power consumption need not worry. The Radeon HD 5970 uses specially screened Cypress chips, and is easily overclockable to Radeon 5870 levels with ATI's OverDrive technology. The board is unlocked, so overclockers can go as high as their guts (and cooling) will allow.

In order to aid overclockers, ATI's reference board uses proprietary high-performance digital programmable voltage regulators made by specialty firm Volterra. Pure ceramic supercapacitors sourced from Japan are used, and real time power monitoring is available.

The GPUs could be overclockable to 1GHz and beyond, while the GDDR5 RAM is rated for 1.5Ghz/5Gbps.

There are three outputs on the card in order to enable ATI's Eyefinity multi-display technology. Three monitors can be used at the same time using the two dual-link DVI ports and single mini-DisplayPort. New Catalyst 9.11 drivers have also been released, adding support for the new cards and Flash acceleration.

The Radeon HD 5970 is available immediately at retailers and through the channel for an MSRP of $599. The ATI Radeon HD 5970 is supported by a wide range of add-in-board companies, including ASK, Asus, Club 3D, Diamond, Gigabyte, High Tech, MSI, Sapphire, Tul/Power Color, Visiontek and XFX. It also launches today in new Alienware Area-51, Area-51 ALX and Aurora desktop PCs.

NVIDIA has been saying that their next generation gaming GPU will be available before the end of the year, although that has become increasingly unlikely.

Based on the latest information available, the Radeon HD 5970 is likely to be the fastest single card solution for the next six months.



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RE: So basically...
By werfu on 11/18/2009 9:27:06 AM , Rating: 2
I really think that NVidia need to enter the x86 market by buying Via. A third player in this war would scramble the cards for every one.


RE: So basically...
By LRonaldHubbs on 11/18/2009 10:41:47 AM , Rating: 3
This has been covered many times. Via's x86 license is void if they get bought out.


RE: So basically...
By Obsoleet on 11/18/2009 9:16:24 PM , Rating: 3
What L. Ron Hubbard said is correct. x86 licenses are non-transferable. The only way that Nvidia can get one is to be bought out by someone else, and there's no way NV can negotiate with someone and retain full control as Huang would demand. Nor is there any x86 license holder who could do such a financial transaction in jest, as a ruse for Huang to remain in control and attain an x86 license.
Even if THAT were possible, Intel would cancel Nvidia's newfound license. Nvidia has burned that bridge, and only the inglorious hobnobbing NV refuses to do could repair it.

The only option is for Nvidia to create their Femini GPU and try to find a way to (very slowly) emulate x86 through code morphing. That's what they're working on now, but there's no way to supplant x86. No ones going to develop apps for Nvidia's alternative architecture, it's bound to be niche CUDA applications.
Larrabee, in time, will bring what we all eventually want (ray tracing) and eliminate Nvidia's core market. AMD will be able to offer Intel's necessary counterbalance in the ray tracing market.

All things considered, even though they sold out to AMD, ATI certainly appears be having the last laugh in the saga of video chipset wars.


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