Sometimes a surprise is nice. Other times it’s nice for things to go as planned for once.

Compared to the HD 4800 series launch, AMD’s launch of the HD 5800 series today is going to fall into the latter category. There are no last-minute announcements or pricing games, or NDAs that get rolled back unexpectedly. Today’s launch is about as normal as a new GPU launch can get.

However with the lack of last-minute surprises, it becomes harder to keep things under wraps. When details of a product launch are announced well ahead of time, inevitably someone on the inside can’t help but leak the details of what’s going on. The result is that what we have to discuss today isn’t going to come as a great surprise for some of you.

As early as a week ago the top thread on our video forums had the complete and correct specifications for the HD 5800 series. So if you’ve been peaking at what’s coming down the pipe (naughty naughty) then much of this is going to be a confirmation of what you already know.

Today’s Launch

3 months ago AMD announced the Evergreen family of GPUs, AMD’s new line of DirectX11 based GPUs. 2 weeks ago we got our first briefing on the members of the Evergreen family, and AMD publically announced their Eyefinity technology running on the then-unnamed Radeon HD 5870. Today finally marks the start of the Evergreen launch, with cards based on the first chip, codename Cypress, being released. Out of Cypress comes two cards: The Radeon HD 5870, and the Radeon HD 5850.

  ATI Radeon HD 5870 ATI Radeon HD 5850 ATI Radeon HD 4890 ATI Radeon HD 4870
Stream Processors 1600 1440 800 800
Texture Units 80 72 40 40
ROPs 32 32 16 16
Core Clock 850MHz 725MHz 850MHz 750MHz
Memory Clock 1.2GHz (4.8GHz data rate) GDDR5 1GHz (4GHz data rate) GDDR5 975MHz (3900MHz data rate) GDDR5 900MHz (3600MHz data rate) GDDR5
Memory Bus Width 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit
Frame Buffer 1GB 1GB 1GB 1GB
Transistor Count 2.15B 2.15B 959M 956M
Manufacturing Process TSMC 40nm TSMC 40nm TSMC 55nm TSMC 55nm
Price Point $379 $259 ~$180 ~$160

So what’s Cypress in a nutshell? It’s a RV790 (Radeon HD 4890) with virtually everything doubled, given the additional hardware needed to meet the DirectX 11 specifications, with new features such as Eyefinity  and angle independent anisotropic filtering packed in, lower idle power usage, and fabricated on TSMC’s 40nm process. Beyond that Cypress is a direct evolution/refinement of the RV7xx, and closely resembles its ancestor in design and internal workings.

The leader of the Evergreen family is the Radeon HD 5870, which will be AMD’s new powerhouse card. The 5870 features 1600 stream processors divided among 20 SIMDs, 80 texture units, and 32 ROPs, with 1GB of GDDR5 on-board connected to a 256bit memory bus. The 5870 is clocked at 850MHz for the core clock, and 1.2GHz (4.8GHz effective) for the memory, giving it a maximum compute performance of 2.72 teraflops. Load power is 188W, and idle power is a tiny 27W. It is launching at a MSRP of $379.

Below that we have the 5850 (which we will not be reviewing today), which is a slightly cut-down version of the 5870. Here we have 1440 stream processors divided among 18 SIMDs, 72 texture units, and the same 32 ROPs, with the same 256bit memory bus. The 5850 is clocked at 725Mhz for the core, and 1Ghz for the memory, giving it a maximum compute performance of 2.09 TFLOPS. With the disabled units, load power is slightly reduced to 170W, and it has the same 27W idle power. AMD expects the 5850 to perform at approximately 80% the performance level of the 5870, and is pricing it at $259.

Availability is going to be an issue, so we may as well get the subject out of the way. While today is a hard launch, it’s not quite as hard of a launch as we would like to see. AMD is launching the 5800 series with Dell, so it shouldn't come as a surprise if Dell has cards when e-tailers don't.

The situation with general availability is murky at best. The first thing we heard was that there may be a week of lag, but as of today AMD is telling us that they expect e-tailers to have 5870 cards on the 23rd, and 5850 cards next week. In any case whatever cards do make it in the channel are going to be in short supply, which matches the overall vibe we’re getting from AMD that supplies are going to be tight initially compared to the demand. So even after the first few days it may be hard to get a card. Given a tight supply we’ll be surprised if prices stick to the MSRP, and we’re likely to see e-tailers charge a price premium in the first days. Depending on just how high the demand is, this may mean it’ll take a while for prices to fall down to their MSRPs and for AMD to completely clear the backlog of demand for these cards.

Update: As of 5am EDT, we have seen the availability of 5870s come and go. Newegg had some in stock, but they have since sold out. So indeed AMD did make the hard launch (which we're always glad to see), but it looks like our concerns about a limited supply are proving to be true.

Finally, we asked AMD about the current TSMC 40nm situation, and they have told us that they are happy with it. Our concern was that problems at TSMC (specifically: yield) would be a holdup in getting more cards out there, but this does not look to be the case. However given the low supply of the cards compared to where AMD expects the supply to be, TSMC’s total 40nm capacity may not be to AMD’s liking.

Meet the 5870
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  • dieselcat18 - Saturday, October 03, 2009 - link

    It truly amazes me that AnandTech allows a Troll like you to keep posting...but there is always one moron that comes to a forum like this and shows his a** to the world...So we all know it to be you...nice work not bringing anything resembling an intelligent discussion to the table..Oh and please don't tell me what it is that I bring to the conversation...my thoughts about this topic have nothing to do with my reply to you about your vulgar manner and lack of respect for anyone that has a difference of opinion.
    Oh and as for you paper launch...well sites like Newegg were sold out immediately because of the overwhelming demand for this card and I'll bet you anything there are cards available and in good supply at this very moment...Why don't you take a look and give us all another update.....I guess having that big "L" stamped on your forehead sums it up.....
    Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - link

    No, they didn't, because the 5870's just showed up last night, 4 of them, and just a bit ago the ONE of them actually became "available", the Powercolor brand.
    The other three 5870's are NOT AVAILABLE but are listed....
    So "ATI paper launch" is the key idea here (for non red roosters).
    1:43 PM CST, Wed. Sept. 23rd, 2009.
    ---
    Yes, I watched them appear on the egg last night(I'm such a red fanboy I even love paper launches)... LOL
    Reply
  • crimson117 - Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - link

    Current cheapest GTX 295 at Newegg is $469.99.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...">http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a...p;cm_re=...
    Reply
  • B3an - Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - link

    Ryan, on your AA page, you have an example of the unofficial Nvidia SSAA where the tree branches have gone missing in HL2. And say because of this it's not suitable for general use.

    But for both the ATI pics, on either MSAA or SSAA, the tree branches are missing as well. Did you not notice this? because you do not comment on it.

    Either way it looks like ATI AA is still worse, or there is a bug.
    Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - link

    We used the same save game, but not the same computer. These were separate issues we were chasing down at the same time, so they're not meant to be comparable. In this case I believe some of the shots were at 1600x1200, and others were at 1680x1050. The result of which is that the widescreen shots are effectively back a bit farther due to the use of the same FOV at all times in HL2.

    As you'll see in our Crysis shots, there's no difference. I can look in to this issue later however, if you'd like.
    Reply
  • chizow - Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - link

    Really enjoyed the discussion of the architecture, new features, DX11, Compute Shaders, the new AF algorithm and the reintroduction of SSAA an ATI parts.

    As for the card itself, its definitely impressive for a single-GPU but the muted enthusiasm in your conclusion seems justified. Its not the definite leader for single-card performance as the 295 is still consistently faster and the 5870 even fails to consistently outperform its own predecessor, the 4870X2.

    Its scaling problems are really odd given its internals and overall specs seem to indicate its just RV790 CF on a single die, yet it scales worst than the previous generation in CF. I'd say you're probably onto something thinking AMD underestimated the 5870's bandwidth requirements.

    Anyways, nice card and nice effort from AMD, even if its stay at the top is short-lived. AMD did a better job pricing this time around and will undoubtedly enjoy high sales volume with little competition in the coming months with Win 7's launch, up until Nvidia is able to counter with GT300.
    Reply
  • chizow - Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - link

    Holy....lol

    I didn't even realize til I read another comment that Ryan Smith wrote this and not Anand/Derek collaboration. That's a compliment btw, it read very Anand-esque the entire time! ;-) Really enjoyed it similar to some of your earlier efforts like the 3-part Vista memory investigation.
    Reply
  • formulav8 - Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - link

    I wouldn't be surprised if most of us already knew what was going to take place with performance and what-not. But its still a nice card whether I knew the specs before its official release or not. (And viewed many purposely leak benches). :)


    Jason
    Reply
  • PJABBER - Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - link

    Another fine review and nice to see it hit today. Your reviews are one reason I keep coming back to AT!

    Unfortunately, at MSRP the 5870 doesn't offer enough for me to move past the 4890 I am currently using, and bought for $130 during one of the sales streaks a month or so ago. Will re-evaluate when we actually start seeing price drops and/or DX11 games hit the shelves.

    Reply
  • wicko - Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - link

    It would have been nice to see 4890 in CF against 5870 in CF. 500$ spent vs 800$ spent :p Reply

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