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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 monomer on 11/18/2009 11:01:46 AM , Rating: 2
So when will "this round" really start? When games actually use the cards? Which will probably be when Nvidia rlease something and who's to say what they will be producing.

Well, technically, so far as I can tell, two games have been released which support DX11: Stalker: Call of Pripyat, and Battleforge. Additionally, Dirt 2 is set to be released in in the first week of December, which will be before Nvidia releases their cards in Q1 2010. The same was trye with the 9700

Have ATi rushed out these cards to try to get market share, for a market that doesn't really exist?

This same argument comes up with every new iteration of DX. Developers are only going to support the features if cards are actually going to be out, so you can't really say ATI rushed their release. Developers also need hardware to test their code with, so they need DX11 cards before they release DX11 games.

RE: So basically...
By Aloonatic on 11/18/2009 11:14:49 AM , Rating: 2
That's cool.

2 games that are reasonably big titles? I must admit, I'm not really a PC gamer these days? Another on the way that seems to be a pretty main stream title with broad appeal.

(I am aware of the same old argument, it will always happen when the same old situation crops up tho)

If the up take (of DX11 by devs) is what you seem to suggest it is then maybe they have timed their release pretty well. Before Christmas and when Win 7 has just been released, which a fair few system builders have probably been waiting for etc.

I take it all back :o)

Where can I actually buy one?

RE: So basically...
By Parhel on 11/18/2009 11:39:34 AM , Rating: 2
Well, there are a four on eBay right now. Otherwise, you have to do what everyone else has been doing. Get on a pre-order list, or obsessively check Newegg and the other e-tailers.

It's the same story with any product where demand exceeds supply. You can't just walk into the local Best Buy and pick one up, but if you're serious and you look around you'll find one within a week or two. There are tens of thousands of cards out in the wild. Just go to any enthusiast forum and you'll see.

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