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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: Ati fanboy
By HotFoot on 11/18/2009 12:03:13 PM , Rating: 2
If a mobile 4650 is enough to satisfy your gaming needs/wants, then discussion of 5870 - 5970 class hardware is just completely irrelevant.

For my mobile gaming, I accept that I play at lower settings than while I'm at home. But the OP doesn't accept this and wants the best experience for mobile computing.

My disagreement with the OP would be looking at where the market is. Yes, laptops and other mobile computer form factors are taking over the market by and large, but I'm certain desktops or shuttle is still where the majority of top-dollar gaming hardware is bought and desired. Something like the 5970 just isn't going to work in a mobile form factor. It's just physics, at this point - a 300 Watt card cannot be integrated into a 15.4" notebook.

What I really wish would come back was the idea of having an external enclosure to house a desktop graphics card. There were a couple of these shown around a few years back, but I never saw one for sale. If I could get my hands on something like that, I could use a very lightweight and efficient IGP-based notebook with great battery life, and hook it up with whatever video card just came out of my desktop from my last upgrade cycle. That would be a great option for me.

RE: Ati fanboy
By weskurtz0081 on 11/18/2009 12:11:47 PM , Rating: 2
What are you talking about?

I am specifically asking what he is doing on a 15.4" notebook gaming wise that a 4650 can't handle. Show me a 15.4" notebook with a GTX 280M in it.

The guy I was responding to was acting like he had to have a GTX 280M and that AMD doesn't have anything to go against it, which they do. The problem is, he is talking about his gaming needs and his 15.4" notebook, which you will not find a GTX 280M in a 15.4" notebook, the screen resolution is smaller, and you can push game much easier on smaller screens.

If the OP wanted the best experience for mobile computing, he wouldn't be using a 15.4" notebook, and he wouldn't have bothered bringing up the GTX280 M which he can't even get in that small of a notebook.

Does that make more sense?

RE: Ati fanboy
By FITCamaro on 11/18/2009 2:06:01 PM , Rating: 2
Isn't the 280M just a 9800GTX-M anyway?

RE: Ati fanboy
By weskurtz0081 on 11/18/2009 2:51:16 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know, but I haven't been able to find anything of the sorts in ANY 15.4" notebooks.

If you go with a 17" or 18", the offerings between ATI and Nvidia are on par.

RE: Ati fanboy
By Scabies on 11/19/2009 2:41:27 AM , Rating: 2
Does that make more sense?

The necessity of a nuclear powered laptop will never make sense. The consumer should always accept that with a decrease in size (/increase in portability) comes the trade-off of lower performance.

"If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." -- Scientology founder L. Ron. Hubbard

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