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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  • Zool - Friday, September 25, 2009 - link

    "The GT300 is going to blow this 5870 away - the stats themselves show it, and betting otherwise is a bad joke, and if sense is still about, you know it as well."
    If not than it would be a sad day for nvidia after more than 2 years of nothing.
    But the 5870 can still blow away any other card around. With DX11 fixed tesselators in pipeline and compute shader postprocessing (which will finaly tax the 1600 stream procesors)it will look much better than curent dx9. The main advantage of this card is the dx11 which of course nvidia doesnt hawe. And maybe the dewelopers will finaly optimize for the ati vector architecture if there isnt any other way meant to be played(payed) :).
    Actualy nvidia couldnt shrink the last gen to 40nm with its odd high frequency scalar shaders (which means much more leakage) so i wouldent expect much more from nvidia than double the stats and make dx11 either.
    Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Friday, September 25, 2009 - link

    Here more new NVidia cards, so the fasle 2 years complaint is fixzling fast.
    Why this hasn't been mentioned here at anadtech yet I'm not sure, but of course...

    http://www.fudzilla.com/content/view/15698/1/">http://www.fudzilla.com/content/view/15698/1/

    Gigabyte jumps the gun with 40nm

    According to our info, Nvidia's GT 220, 40nm GT216-300 GPU, will be officially announced in about three weeks time.

    The Gigabyte GT 220 works at 720MHz for the core and comes with 1GB of GDDR3 memory clocked at 1600MHz and paired up with a 128-bit memory interface. It has 48 stream processors with a shader clock set at 1568MHz.
    --
    See, there's a picture as well. So, it's not like nothing has been going on. It's also not "a panicky response to regain attention" - it is the natural progression of movement to newer cores and smaller nm processes, and those things take time, but NOT the two years plus ideas that spread around....
    Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Friday, September 25, 2009 - link

    The GT200 was released on June 16th and June17th, 2008, definitely not more than 2 years ago, but less.
    The 285 (nm die shrink) on January 15th, 2009, less than 1 year ago.

    The 250 on March 3rd this year, though I wouldn't argue you not wanting to count that.

    I really don't think I should have to state that you are so far off the mark, it is you, not I, that might heal with correction.

    Next, others here, the article itself, and the ati fans themselves won't even claim the 5870 blows away every other card, so that statement you made is wrong, as well.
    You could say every other single core card - no problem.
    Let's hope the game scenes do look much better, that would be wonderful, and a fine selling point for W7 and DX11 (and this casrd if it is, or remains, the sole producer of your claim).
    I suggest you check around, the DX11 patch for Battleforge is out, so maybe you can find confirmation of your "better looking" games.

    " Actualy nvidia couldnt shrink the last gen to 40nm with its odd high frequency scalar shaders "
    I believe that is also wrong, as they are doing so for mobile.
    What is true is ATI was the ginea pig for 40nm, and you see, their yeilds are poor, while NVidia, breaking in later, has had good yeilds on the GT300, as stated by - Nvidia directly, after ATI made up and spread lies about 9 or less per wafer. (that link is here, I already posted it)
    ---
    If Nvidia's card doubles performance of the 285, twice the frames at the same reso and settings, I will be surprised, but the talk is, that or more. The stats leaked make that a possibility. The new MIMD may be something else, I read 6x-15x the old performance in certain core areas.
    What Nvidia is getting ready to release is actually EXCITING, is easily described as revolutionary for videocards, so yes, a flop would be a very sad day for all of us. I find it highly unlikely, near impossible, the silicon is already being produced.
    The only question yet is how much better.
    Reply
  • Zool - Friday, September 25, 2009 - link

    I want to note also that the 5870 is hard to find which means the 40nm tsmc is still far from the last gen 55nm. After they manage it to get on the 4800 level the prices will be different. And maybe the gt300 is still far away. Reply
  • mapesdhs - Friday, September 25, 2009 - link


    Is there any posting moderation here? Some of the flame/troll posts
    are getting ridiculous. The same thing is happening on toms these days.

    Jarred, best not to reply IMO. I don't think you're ever going to get
    a logical response. Such posts are not made with the intent of having
    a rational discussion. Remember, as Bradbury once said, it's a sad
    fact of nature that half the population have got to be below average. :D

    Ian.


    Reply
  • Zool - Friday, September 25, 2009 - link

    I would like to see some more tests on power load. Actualy i dont think there are too many people with 2560*1600 displays. There are still plenty people with much lower resolutions like 1680*1050 and play with max imagequality. With VSync on if u reduce 200fps to 60fps u get much less gpu temps and also power load.(things like furmark are miles away from real world) On LCD there is no need to turn it off just if u benchmark and want more fps. I would like to see more power load tests with diferent resolutions and Vsync on.(And of course not with crysis)
    Also some antialiasing tests, the adaptive antialiasing on 5800 is now much faster i read.And the FSAA is of course blurry, it was always so. If u render the image in 5120*3200 on your 2560*1600 display and than it combines the quad pixels it will seems like its litle washed out. Also in those resolution even the highress textures will begin to pixalate even in closeup so the combined quad pixels wont resemble the original. Without higher details in game the FSAA in high resolution will just smooth the image even more. Actualy it always worked this way even on my gf4800.

    Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Friday, September 25, 2009 - link

    PS - a good friend of mine has an ATI HD2900 pro with 320 shaders (a strange one not generally listed anywhere) that he bought around the time I was showing him around the egg cards and I bought an ATI card as well.
    Well, he's a flight simmer, and it has done quite well for him for a about a year, although in his former Dell board it was LOCKED at 500mhz 503mem 2d and 3d, no matter what utility was tried, and the only driver that worked was the CD that came with it.
    Next on a 570 sli board he got a bit of relief, an with 35 various installs or so, he could sometimes get 3d clocks to work.
    Even with all that, it performed quite admirably for the strange FS9 not being an NVidia card.
    Just the other day, on his new P45 triple pci-e slot, after 1-2 months running, another friend suggested he give OCCT a go, and he asked what is good for stability (since he made 1600fsb and an impressive E4500 (conroe) 200x11/2200 stock to a 400x8/ 3200mhz processor overclock for the past week or two). "Ten minutes is ok an hour is great" was the response.
    Well, that HD2900pro and OCCT didn't like eachother much either - and DOWN went the system, 30 seconds in, cooking that power supply !
    --- LOL ---
    Now that just goes to show you that hiding this problem with the 4870 and 4890 for so many months, not a peep here... is just not good for end users...
    ---
    Thanks a lot tight lipped "nothing is wrong with ATI cards" red fans. Just wonderful.
    ---
    He had another PS and everything else is OK

    , and to be quite honest and frank and fair as I near always am, that HD2900pro still does pretty darn good for his flight simming ( and a few FPS we all play sometimes) and he has upgraded EVERYTHING else already at least once, so on that card, well done for ATI. (well depsite the drivcer issues, 3d mhz issues, etc)
    Oh, and he also has a VERY NICE 'oc on it now(P45 board) - from 600/800 core/mem 3D to 800/1000, and 2d is 500/503, so that's quite impressive.
    Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - link

    Ahh, isn't that typical, the 3 or 4 commenters raving for ati "go dead silent" on this furmark and OCCT issue.
    --
    "It's ok we never mentioned it for a year plus as we guarded our red fan inner child."
    (Ed. note: We "heard" nvidia has a similar implementation")
    WHATEVER THAT MEANS !
    ---
    I just saw (somewhere else) another red fanatic bloviating about his 5870 only getting up to 76C in Furmark. ROFLMAO
    --
    Aww, the poor schmuck didn't know the VRM's were getting cut back and it was getting throttled from the new "don't have a heat explosion" tiny wattage crammed hot running ati core.
    Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Friday, September 25, 2009 - link

    Well you brought to mind another sore spot for me.
    In the article, when the 4870 and 4890 FAIL furmark and OCCT, we are suddenly told, after this many MONTHS, that a blocking implementation in ati driver version 9.2 was put forth by ATI, so their cards wouldn't blow to bits on furmark and OCCT.
    I for one find that ABSOLUTELY AMAZING that this important information took this long to actually surface at red central - or rather, I find it all too expected, given the glaring bias, ever present.
    Now, the REASON this information finally came forth, other thanb the epic fail, is BECAUSE the 5870 has a "new technology" and no red fan site can possibly pass up bragging about something new in a red core.
    So the brag goes on, how protection bits in the 5870 core THROTTLE BACK the VRM's when heat issues arise, hence allowing for cheap VRM's & or heat dissipation issues to divert disaster.
    That's wonderful, we finally find out about ANOTHER 4870 4980 HEAT ISSUE, and driver hack by ATI, and a failure to RUN THE COMMON BENCHMARKS we have all used, this late in the game.
    I do have to say, the closed mouthed rabid foam contained red fans are to appluaded for their collective silence over this course of time.
    Now, further bias revealed in tha article - the EDITOR makes sure to chime in, and notes ~"we have heard Nvidia has a similar thing".
    What exactly that similar thing is, and whom the Editor supposedly heard it from, is never made clear.
    Nonetheless, it is a hearty excuse and edit for, and in favor of, EXCUSING ATI's FAILURES.

    Nonetheless, ALL the nvidia cards passed all the tests, and were 75% in number to the good cooler than the ATI's that were- ATI all at 88C-90C, but, of course, the review said blandly in a whitewash, blaming BOTH competitors nvidia and ati - "temps were all over the place" (on load).
    (The winning card GTX295 @ 90C, and 8800GT noted 92C *at MUCH reduced case heat and power consumption, hence INVALID as comparison)
    Although certain to mention the GT8800 at 92C, no mention of the 66C GTX250 or GTX260 winners, just the GTX275 @ 75C, since that was less of a MAJOR EMBARRASSMENT for the ATI heat load monsters !
    Now THERE'S A REAL MONSTER - AND THAT'S ALL OF THE ATI CARDS TESTED IN THIS REVIEW ! Not just the winning nvidia, while the others that matter (can beat 5870 in sli or otherwise) hung 24C to 14C lower under load.
    So, after all that, we have ANOTHER BIAS, GLARING BIAS - the review states " there are no games we know of, nor any we could find, that cause this 5870 heat VRM throttling to occur".
    In other words, we are to believe, it was done in the core, just for Furmark and OCCT, or, that it was done as precaution and would NEVER come into play, yes, rest assured, it just won't HAPPEN in the midst of a heavy firefight when your trigger finger is going 1,000mph...
    So, I found that just CLASSIC for this place. Here is another massive heat issue, revealed for the first time for 4870 and 4890 months and months and months late, then the 5870 is given THE GOLDEN EXCUSE and massive pass, as that heat reducing VRM cooling voltage cutting framerate lowering safety feature "just won't kick in on any games".
    ROFL
    I just can't help it, it's just so dang typical.
    Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Friday, September 25, 2009 - link

    Looks like SnakeOil has yet ANOTHER account. Reply

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