It was four months ago that ATI showed us the Radeon HD 5870 at a secret press event in Oakland, California. The media was suitably impressed by the demos and visuals, but were skeptical about ATI's plans for a top-to-bottom DirectX 11 product rollout for the discrete desktop market. The company has executed their plans on time though, and will finish their discrete desktop launches very soon. Availability is still a little tight to lower prices, but a quick check of e-tailers shows that most of the Radeon HD 5000 series is in stock, except for the Radeon HD 5970.
The situation on the mobile side is very different though. Design cycles are much slower, and many OEMs still use Mobility Radeons from the old 3000 series. The Mobility Radeon 4000 series holds a lot of market share, but those are mostly lower end models. The 40nm Mobility Radeon 4800 series hasn't been readily adopted by OEMs, and gamers have been left out of the cold.
Things are about to change, if ATI can provide enough volume to OEMs. The company is launching today the Mobility Radeon 5000 series, which includes the Mobility Radeon 5800, 5700, 5600, and 5400 series.
More specifically, there will be at least a Mobility Radeon 5870, 5850, 5757, 5750, 5650, 5470, 5450, and 5430. This information was buried in the presentation that we received in our email, as ATI would rather we focus on the series rather than specific chips. As a result, we have a generic chart of transistor and stream processor counts. The primary difference within each series will be the clock speed settings that ATI will set with the OEMs.
There will also be a Mobility Radeon 5165 and 5145, which we are guessing will be part of the Danube mainstream and Nile ultrathin notebook platforms which AMD will reveal at a later date.
It is no surprise that the graphics division of AMD is launching its new lineup of mobile GPUs at the same time its chief competitor is launching its 32nm Arrandale CPUs using the new Westmere architecture. The blue team is working with almost all OEMs on new products using updated chipsets and CPUs, and ATI will piggyback on the new design cycle to integrate their new GPUs into the mix.
Of particular interest to OEMs is ATI's switchable graphics technology, which uses the integrated graphics on the CPU package to drive 2D images and other low performance applications, lowering power consumption and prolonging battery life. Laptops with the technology can switch automatically or manually to a more powerful discrete GPU like the new Mobility Radeon 5000 chips, boosting performance when needed.
ATI claims performance-per-watt has been increased by four times over the previous Mobility Radeon 4000 series, and that the company is using a much improved 40nm process. It has also developed Vari-Bright technology to optimize screen brightness through hardware, resulting in a better display than the previous software solution. GDDR5 support is also featured, with the promise of more bandwidth that it allows (as long as OEMs choose to use it).
HDMI 1.3, DisplayPort, and ATI's Eyefinity multiple monitor display system are all supported.
"ASUS has worked closely with AMD for years to ensure that we're collaborating to bring the newest and most compelling notebook technologies to our customers first, and with the DirectX 11-capable family of ATI Mobility Radeon HD 500 series graphics and the ASUS G73 and the new N series of notebooks, we're continuing that leadership," said P.C. Wang, Corporate Vice President and General Manager of the Notebook Business Unit of ASUS.