AMD Launches ATI Radeon HD Family, Finally
Anh Tuan Huynh
May 13, 2007 8:32 PM
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Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT TOXIC
ATI Radeon HD 2400
ATI Radeon HD 2600
ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT
AMD announces its long-awaited ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT, seven months after its initial launch date
AMD is prepared to launch its
ATI Radeon HD 2000 family
tomorrow. The new ATI Radeon HD 2000 family consists of the HD 2400, HD 2600 and HD 2900 graphics processors, formerly known as
, respectively. Although AMD will announce its ATI Radeon HD 2000 series, only the ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT will have immediate availability. The accompanying
ATI Radeon HD 2400 and HD 2600
-based products are paper launches.
After months of delays,
is finally ready for consumer purchase. Only one ATI Radeon HD 2900 model will launch today in XT guise.
previously pitted the
ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT
NVIDIA’s GeForce 8800 GTS
ATI Radeon HD 2900 XTX
previously benchmarked by
will not hit retail channels, for now.
ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT
packs 320 unified stream processors with an estimated 47.5 Gigapixels/sec pixel processing rate. The 320 stream processors are joined by 16 texture units and render backends. AMD claims the 740 MHz
ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT
delivers 475 GigaFLOPS of processing power in multiply-add, or MADD, calculations.
AMD pairs the 700 million transistors GPU with 512MB of GDDR3 video memory. The 1.65 GHz GDDR3 memory communicates with the GPU via a 512-bit memory interface, delivering 106 GB/sec of bandwidth. The new ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT continues to make do with an 80nm fabrication process to consume approximately 215 watts of power altogether.
Although images have shown the ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT with dual dual-link DVI ports, the card does in fact support HDMI output. An included adapter allows users to experience high-definition video and 5.1 surround sound audio via HDMI output. Also bundled with the ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT are keys for Valve’s upcoming Half Life 2: Episode Two and Team Fortress 2. The keys allow owners to download the games, when released, over STEAM.
Taking on NVIDIA’s recently launched
GeForce 8600 family
is the new ATI Radeon HD 2600 series. AMD plans to paper launch the ATI Radeon HD 2600 in PRO and XT guises. The ATI Radeon HD 2600 series features 120 stream processors. The GPU is clocked anywhere between 600 to 800 MHz depending on flavor. AMD backs the 120 stream processors with eight texture units and four render backends.
The amount of processing power brings the ATI Radeon HD 2600 GPU transistor count to 390 million. Nevertheless, the ATI Radeon HD 2600 is manufactured on a 65nm process. AMD rates power consumption at approximately 45 watts.
AMD pairs the ATI Radeon HD 2600 GPU with
, GDDR3 or DDR2 memory. Manufacturers can equip cards with 256MB of video memory clocked anywhere between 800 MHz to 2.2 GHz, on a 128-bit memory interface. ATI Radeon HD 2600-based cards will also support HDMI audio and video output via adapter.
At the bottom of the new ATI Radeon 2000-series lineup is the ATI Radeon HD 2400 series with PRO and XT models. The new ATI Radeon HD 2400 features 40 stream processors with four texture units and render backends. GPU clocks vary between 525 MHz to 700 MHz.
The ATI Radeon HD 2400 series features less than half the transistors as the HD 2600 – 180 million. AMD has the ATI Radeon HD 2400 series manufactured on the same 65nm process as the HD 2600. Power consumption of the ATI Radeon HD 2400 hovers around 25 watts.
Add-in board manufacturers are free to equip ATI Radeon HD 2400 series graphics cards with GDDR3 or DDR2 memory. The GPU supports 128MB or 256MB memory configurations on a 64-bit memory interface. Memory clock can vary from 800 MHz to 1.6 GHz depending on model. Expect ATI Radeon HD 2400 series graphics cards to support HDMI audio and video output via a DVI to HDMI adapter.
Despite an announcement for the complete ATI Radeon HD 2000 series, the ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT will be the only card available for purchase tomorrow. The ATI Radeon HD 2600 and HD 2400 series will hit retail in late June 2007 with an accompanying benchmark NDA lift.
Expect to pay $399 for an ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT tomorrow from the usual add-in board partners including
, PowerColor and
. AMD expects to target the ATI Radeon HD 2600 series towards the $99 to $199 market segment and ATI Radeon HD 2400 series towards the less than $99 segment.
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AMD's recent promise to open source the R600 drivers—
5/15/2007 6:52:44 AM
AMD is making it clear they're not going to cede the burgeoning GPGPU market to NVIDIA's G80, and the company's pre-launch press materials tout the 2900's usefulness in high-performance computing applications. In particular, there's a sort of software component to the new GPU that hasn't gotten much attention in any of the launch coverage, and indeed I hadn't seen news of it anywhere before coming across it in AMD's press materials.
The R600 is an extremely wide VLIW/SIMD design that relies heavily on a special software layer to dynamically manage its large volume of parallel execution resources. This software layer is called the Accelerated Computing Software Stack, and it includes both compile-time and run-time components. The compile-time component is a set of stream extensions for C/C++ and a math library that AMD calls ACML (probably for Accelerated Computing Math Library). These tools allow coders to write stream computing (or "data parallel") code in C and C++for both the R600 and AMD's multicore GPUs.
This code isn't run natively on the AMD/ATI hardware, but instead it's passed to a runtime component called the Compute Abstraction Layer (CAL), which sits between the programmer and both the multicore CPU and the GPU and appears to contain a just-in-time (JIT) compiler that dynamically translates the code for either x86 or CUDA before passing it on to the appropriate piece of hardware.
The GPU's CTM assembler interface is itself covered by another hardware abstraction layer (HAL) that appears to reside within the CAL. Third party developers can write to either the CAL or the HAL, depending on whether they need to talk only to the GPU (via the HAL, as in the case of display drivers and some HPC applications) or to both the CPU and GPU (via the CAL, for generic "stream processing").
The CAL and HAL portions of ACSS are complex yet integral parts of the driver for the R600 family, and I'd bet money that together they're one of the bottlenecks that's holding back the system from achieving its full potential on gaming benchmarks. It appears that on all of the benchmarks run so far, both DX9 and DX10, all of the graphics calls are going to the CAL via the DirectX and OpenGL CAL bindings, where they're dynamically farmed out to the available stream computing resources on the GPU. If the CAL/HAL stack, which is a brand new piece of software that probably has quite a bit of optimization overhead left in it, doesn't do its job optimally, then the graphics code that's running on it won't be able to get peak performance out of the hardware.
People who really want to max out the R600 will write directly to the GPU hardware using CTM, bypassing the ACSS entirely. This is probably behind AMD's recent promise to open source the R600 drivers—they may be hoping that developers will step up and use CTM to write card-specific drivers that are fully optimized, game-console-style, so that all of the R600's potential can be unlocked.
"Vista runs on Atom ... It's just no one uses it". -- Intel CEO Paul Otellini
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