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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  • hechacker1 - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    I once had that problem too. Even if my display went to sleep it would reset the monitor configuration.

    I think disabling this helped:
    http://www.tomstricks.com/how-to-disable-or-enable...">http://www.tomstricks.com/how-to-disabl...multimon...

    I think eventually catalyst was updated to fix the display loosing connection during sleep (in my case).
    Reply
  • The0ne - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    I think we all seen enough data on this poorly programmed game to removed it from the test. There's really not point as even this card, 5970, can choke on it. Seriously, utter crap of programming. Reply
  • lifeblood - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Three 30" monitors? Dude, I had to work hard just to afford a single 24" monitor. And because I'm salary I don't get overtime (although they do make me work it). If I get a second job flipping burgers at the local fast food joint I might be able to afford two more 24" displays. I bet Eyefinity would still look awesome on that.

    And I was only kidding about you getting paid too much. The article was great. Now I am eagerly awaiting Nvidia's response.
    Reply
  • haplo602 - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    nice review.

    but PLEASE MARK THE REVIEWED CARD to STAND OUT in the GRAPHS next time. going top down through the list and reading each caption to finaly find the card for EACH GRAPH is realy annoying.
    Reply
  • The0ne - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Anand graphs are really annoying at times. I wish they were more consistent. Xbitlabs are easy and consistent which makes it a breeze for people like me who just wants to look at the specifics. Reply
  • Dante80 - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    I concur, the graphs can be a little confusing without some sort of color coding...

    Here is a suggestion Ryan. Use light green and orange for Nvidia and AMD single cards, dark green and red for SLI and Xfire setups and lastly, blue for the card reviewed (you can differentiate with light and dark blue readings for the same card in Xfire or OCed readings). I think the graphs would look much better this way, and its a very easy to implement feature anyway...

    cheers...^^
    Reply
  • SJD - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Great and interesting article, but I'm confused about this Eyefinity situation again.

    You state that your monitor didn't support mini-DP, just 'regular' DP, and go on to talk about buying an adapter. Yet, it appears (according to the wiki page at any rate) that mini-DP is electrically identical to regular DP, so only a mini-DP to regular DP cable would be needed. Indeed, other reviews of the 5970 show such an adapter cable included with the card...

    What's the score, and why the comment that you need an *active* adapter to go from mini-dp to regular dp?

    Simon
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    The active adapter went to DVI, I was wondering the same about a simple mini-DP to DP cable Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    I've clarified :)

    Once you move to three displays AMD runs out of timing sources, the miniDP port must use an active adapter if you're using three displays.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • mczak - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    This is however incorrect. You need active adapters because rv870 only supports 2 clock sources for display outputs. However, DP (or mini-DP) don't need any such clock source because they use a fixed clock independent from display timings. Hence, if you want to connect more than 2 monitors using DVI/HDMI/VGA you need active DP-to-something adapter. But for DP outputs this isn't needed. And mini-DP is the same as DP anyway electrically. Reply

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