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Focus on smaller size, lower cost

Computer gaming advanced dramatically last year when ATI ushered in the DirectX 11 age with the Radeon HD 5870 graphics card. The introduction of the DisplayPort connector and Eyefinity multi-monitor support meant games could be played with many more pixels, leading to a better visual experience. Windows 7 was just about to launch, and gamers were eager for some major hardware upgrades.

However, production difficulties at TSMC meant that AMD's graphics division only shipped half the GPUs they were hoping to during the busy holiday shopping season. They still managed to sell over two million DX11 chips, but could've sold a lot more.

The original plans for this year's launch were for an entire lineup of 32nm GPUs, but TSMC scrapped their 32nm development in favor of the 28nm process. ATI took their 32nm designs and rejigged it for their third generation of 40nm products, codenamed Northern Islands. The high end consists of Barts, Cayman, and Antilles.

The new Radeon 6800 series uses the new Barts GPU and is comprised of the Radeon HD 6870 (Barts XT) and the Radeon HD 6850 (Barts Pro). The new chip is designed for slightly lower performance at a much lower cost. At 255 mm2, it is 25% smaller than the 334 mm2  Cypress chips it will replace.

A new seventh generation hardware tessellation unit doubles the performance of the Radeon 5000 series through improved thread management and buffering. Anisotropic Filtering has been enhanced by using a refined algorithm that addresses visible discontinuities in very noisy textures. It also allows for smoother transitions between filter levels. The third generation Unified Video Decoder (UVD3) adds hardware MPEG-4 decoding for DivX and xVid, as well as Blu-Ray 3D.

Both cards sport a dual-slot design and provide 2 mini-DisplayPort 1.2 connectors, 1 HDMI 1.4a connector, and 2 DVI ports. This allows the 6800 series to support up to four monitors natively.

Cards using the new chips and 1GB of GDDR5 will cost around $239 and $179 respectively. The pricing and performance is designed to target NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 460. Barts is 30% smaller than the GF104 chip used in the GTX 460 and consumes less power. That means it has a cost advantage in production, and board partners can chose a quieter and cheaper cooling solution.  Higher performance at a lower price is a strategy that has served AMD well in the CPU market.

AMD thinks supply should be adequate, with "tens of thousands" of GPUs shipped to board partners such as ASUS, Gigabyte, and Sapphire.

Video cards using Barts were originally going to be known as the Radeon HD 6700 series, but AMD has decided to continue on with the Radeon HD 5700 series as it is. Our sources tell us that there will be no rebranding, but that the 5700 series is a top seller and fits in its price category very well. The 5800 series, on the other hand, has been deemed too costly and will be discontinued by the end of the year.

Radeon HD 6970 and 6950 video cards using Cayman GPUs with much higher performance will be introduced next month. That will be followed up by Antilles, which will bring two Cayman GPUs together for the Radeon HD 6990.






 

Radeon HD 6870

Radeon HD 6850

GTX 460  1 GB

GTX 460   768 MB

Radeon HD 5870

Radeon HD 5850

Radeon HD 5770

Radeon HD 5750

Stream Processors

1120

960

336

336

1600

1440

800

720

Texture Units

56

48

56

56

80

72

40

36

ROPs

32

32

32

24

32

32

16

16

Core Clock

900MHz

775MHz

675 MHz

675 MHz

850MHz

725MHz

850MHz

700MHz

Memory Clock

1.05 GHz (4.2GHz data rate) GDDR5

1GHz (4.0GHz data rate) GDDR5

900MHz (3.6GHz data rate) GDDR5

900MHz (3.6GHz data rate) GDDR5

1.2GHz (4.8GHz data rate) GDDR5

1GHz (4.0GHz data rate) GDDR5

1.2GHz (4.8GHz data rate) GDDR5

1.15GHz (4.6GHz data rate) GDDR5

Memory Bus Width

256-bit

256-bit

256-bit

192-bit

256-bit

256-bit

128-bit

128-bit

Frame Buffer

1GB

1GB

1GB

768 MB

1GB

1GB

1GB

1GB

Transistor Count

1.7B

1.7B

1.95B

1.95B

2.15B

2.15B

1.04B

1.04B

TDP

151W

127W

160 W

160 W

188W

151W

108W

86W

Idle

19 W

19 W

30 W

30 W

27 W

27 W

18 W

16 W

Plugs

2x 6-pin

1x 6-pin

2x 6-pin

2x 6-pin

2x 6-pin

2x 6-pin

1x 6-pin

1x 6-pin

Die Size

255mm2

255mm2

368 mm2

368 mm2

334mm2

334mm2

166mm2

166mm2

Price Point

$239

$179

$229

$199

$379

$259

$149

$129  

 

 



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RE: Riduculous branding
By Jansen (blog) on 10/21/2010 11:25:26 PM , Rating: 5
Just be glad they decided not to rebrand the 5700 as the 6700.

Ultimately model numbers are decided by the manufacturer and can be arbitrarily changed. Like a certain other company did...three times.


RE: Riduculous branding
By Jansen (blog) on 10/21/2010 11:33:41 PM , Rating: 3
This is what I would've done:

6900 - Antilles
6800 - Cayman
6700 - Barts
6600 - Juniper

Unfortunately you would have to rebrand Juniper, but it would have the effect of keeping the product around and a consistent 600 series nomenclature. Plus you wouldn't expect someone to go from a 5700 to a 6600.


RE: Riduculous branding
By kroker on 10/22/2010 4:25:21 AM , Rating: 1
Rebranding Juniper as HD 6600 would have been a lot better than the confusion they've created. Barts should have been called HD 6700, no matter what AMD or anyone else says. And, even worse, they released these cards before releasing Cayman, so people who will be looking for a new card right now will see 6800 as the highest number available and they might think this is the high end.

Worse still, they did this right after ditching the ATI name, which created somewhat of an image void for them with they needed to fill (a brand is valuable, it's an investment, it takes a lot of time and effort to build trust and recognition, and then you throw it away?)

None of these decisions make any sense to me, but hey, AMD knows what it's doing, they're a successful company, it's not like they're loosing money or something...


RE: Riduculous branding
By AstroGuardian on 10/22/2010 9:29:49 AM , Rating: 2
What are you talking about? If they named the 6800 to 6700 than which chip would be the 6800? Is it more logical to skip the 6800 and go towards 6900 with two chips?
The naming makes some logic but not perfect. In time they might introduce 6875 which will be better than 6870 and 5870 and everything will fit in.


RE: Riduculous branding
By insurgent on 10/22/2010 8:41:57 PM , Rating: 2
The naming sucks but at least they're priced right relative to the other cards. Everything stays the same: average joe will base his decision on buffer size or bus width, etc... and enthusiasts, well they always know better.


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