40nm Supply Redux

If you have seen our Radeon 5800 supply article, then you know that AMD is currently trying to come to terms with a significant shortage of Cypress dice. Since the 5800 series launched in September, TSMC’s yields have taken a hit as the company ramps up 40nm production. And while this is resulting in more usable chips per week than when AMD started, it’s lower than it was supposed to be. Compounding matters is high demand for these cards thanks to their performance, features, and a lack of significant competition from NVIDIA at this time.

So when we were briefed about the 5970, we asked AMD point-blank whether it was a good idea to be launching another Cypress based card so soon, and at a time when they already don’t have enough chips to go around. Their answer was equally straightforward: why not?

The design is done and AMD is already capable of building the 5970. For AMD, there is no benefit in waiting; no matter what they do, anything with a Cypress chip in it today is going to sell out. Holding back may be slightly more egalitarian, but as the 5970 is a luxury part, it’s not a high-volume part anyhow, so its introduction isn’t going to significantly disrupt 5800 shipments even if it does use 2 GPUs per card. Ultimately I don’t think we would even be having this discussion unless the profit margin on the 5970 is higher than the 5870, so at some point this comes down to AMD doing what is most profitable for them.

At $600, AMD isn’t going to sell a ton of 5970s, and the launch numbers reflect this. While the 5800 series cards launched with tens-of-thousands of cards, the 5970 launch will simply be with thousands of cards. Even as a low-volume part, we’re expecting the 5970 to sell out just as fast as any 5800 card did. But depending on what AMD does with future chip shipments though and what TSMC’s yields do, this may be the first product line where demand finally gets met in the near future.

We also had a chance to talk to AMD about the overall 40nm supply situation. AMD of course isn’t very pleased with the situation, but this is something they’ve apparently planned for, after their first 40nm test chips came back as being less impressive than their 55nm and 65nm test chips were. Besides TSMC’s subpar yields, AMD is unable to get as many wafer starts as they’d like, which is compounding the issue.

Finally, we’re told that the TSMC situation is continuing to improve, and that AMD currently expects the Cypress chip supply to pick up in December. To what level of production “pick up” goes with we’re not sure, but it’s likely less than demand. In talking to AMD, they didn’t seem confident in being able to keep any Cypress-based products in stock through Christmas. Supplies will improve through the end of the year, but it sounds like it’s going to be 2010 before supply and demand finally balance out.

Meet The 5970 The Card They Beg You to Overclock
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  • Paladin1211 - Saturday, November 21, 2009 - link

    To be precise, anything above the monitor refresh rate is not going to be recognizable. Mine maxed out at 60Hz 1920x1200. Correct me if I'm wrong.

    Thanks :)
    Reply
  • noquarter - Saturday, November 21, 2009 - link

    If you read AnandTech's 'Triple Buffering: Why We Love It' article, there is a very slight advantage at more than 60fps even though the display is only running at ~60Hz. If the GPU finishes rendering a frame immediately after the display refresh then that frame will be 16ms stale by the time the display shows it as it won't have the next one ready in time. If someone started coming around the corner while that frame is stale it'd be 32ms (stale frame then fresh frame) before the first indicator showed up. This is simplified as with v-sync off you'll just get torn frames but the idea is still there.

    To me, it's not a big deal, but if you're looking at a person with quick reaction speed of 180ms, 32ms of waiting for frames to catch up could be significant I guess. If you increase the fps past 60 you're more likely to have a fresh frame rendered right before each display refresh.
    Reply
  • T2k - Friday, November 20, 2009 - link

    Seriously: is he no more...? :D Reply
  • XeroG1 - Thursday, November 19, 2009 - link

    OK, so seriously, did you really take a $600 video card and benchmark Crysis Warhead without turning it all the way up? The chart says "Gamer Quality + Enthusiast Shaders". I'm wondering if that's really how you guys benchmarked it, or if the chart is just off. But if not, the claim "Crysis hasn’t quite fallen yet, but it’s very close" seems a little odd, given that you still don't have all the settings turned all the way up.

    Incidentally, I'm running a GeForce 9800 GTX (not plus) and a Core2Duo E8550, and I play Warhead at all settings enthusiast, no AA, at 1600x900. At those settings, it's playable for me. People constantly complain about performance on that title, but really if you just turn down the resolution, it scales pretty well and still looks better than anything else on the market IMHO.
    Reply
  • XeroG1 - Thursday, November 19, 2009 - link

    Er, oops - that was supposed to say "E8500", not "E8550", since there is no 8550. Reply
  • mapesdhs - Thursday, November 19, 2009 - link


    Carnildo writes:
    > ... I was the administrator for a CAVE system. ...

    Ditto! :D


    > ... ported a number of 3D shooters to the platform. You haven't
    > lived until you've seen a life-sized opponent come around the
    > corner and start blasting away at you.

    Indeed, Quake2 is amazing in a CAVE, especially with both the player
    and the gun separately motion tracking - crouch behind a wall and be
    able to stick your arm up to fire over the wall - awesome! But more
    than anything as you say, it's the 3D effect which makes the experience.

    As for surround-vision in general... Eyefinity? Ha! THIS is what
    you want:

    http://www.sgidepot.co.uk/misc/lockheed_cave.jpg">http://www.sgidepot.co.uk/misc/lockheed_cave.jpg

    270 degree wraparound, 6-channel CAVE (Lockheed flight sim).

    I have an SGI VHS demo of it somewhere, must dig it out sometime.


    Oh, YouTube has some movies of people playing Quake2 in CAVE
    systems. The only movie I have of me in the CAVE I ran was
    a piece taken of my using COVISE visualisation software:

    http://www.sgidepot.co.uk/misc/iancovise.avi">http://www.sgidepot.co.uk/misc/iancovise.avi

    Naturally, filming a CAVE in this way merely shows a double-image.


    Re people commenting on GPU power now exceeding the demands for
    a single display...

    What I've long wanted to see in games is proper modelling of
    volumetric effects such as water, snow, ice, fire, mud, rain, etc.
    Couldn't all this excess GPU power be channeled into ways of better
    representing such things? It would be so cool to be able to have
    genuinely new effects in games such as naturally flowing lava, or
    an avalanche, or a flood, tidal wave, storm, landslide, etc. By this
    I mean it being done so that how the substance behaves is governed
    by the environment in a natural way (physics), not hard coded. So far,
    anything like this is just simulated - objects involved are not
    physically modelled and don't interact in any real way. Rain is
    a good example - it never accumulates, flows, etc. Snow has weight,
    flowing water can make things move, knock you over, etc.

    One other thing occurs to me: perhaps we're approaching a point
    where a single CPU is just not enough to handle what is now possible
    at the top-end of gaming. To move them beyond just having ever higher
    resolutions, maybe one CPU with more & more cores isn't going to
    work that well. Could there ever be a market for high-end PC
    gaming with 2-socket mbds? I do not mean XEON mbds as used for
    servers though. Just thoughts...

    Ian.

    Reply
  • gorgid - Thursday, November 19, 2009 - link

    WITH THEIR CARDS ASUS PROVIDES THE SOFTWARE WHERE YOU CAN ADJUST CORE AND MEMORY VOLTAGES. YOU CAN ADJUST CORE VOLTAGE UP TO 1.4V

    READ THAT:
    http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php...">http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/sho...cd1d6d10...

    I ORDERED ONE FROM HERE:

    http://www.provantage.com/asus-eah5970g2dis2gd5a~7...">http://www.provantage.com/asus-eah5970g2dis2gd5a~7...


    Reply
  • K1rkl4nd - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Am I the only one waiting for TI to come out with a 3x3 grid of 1080p DLPs? You'd think if they can wedge ~2.2 million mini-mirrors on a chip, they should be able to scale that up to a native 5760x3240. Then they could buddy up with Dell and sell it as an Alienware premium package of display + computer capable of using it. Reply
  • skrewler2 - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    When can we see benchmarks of 2x 5970 in CF? Reply
  • Mr Perfect - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    "This means that it’s not just a bit quieter to sound meters, but it really comes across that way to human ears too"

    Have you considered using the dBA filter rather then just raw dB? dBA is weighted to measure the tones that the human ear is most sensitive to, so noise-oriented sites like SPCR use dBA instead.
    Reply

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