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Compute & Tessellation

Moving on from our look at gaming performance, we have our customary look at compute performance, bundled with a look at theoretical tessellation performance.

Our first compute benchmark comes from Civilization V, which uses DirectCompute to decompress textures on the fly. Civ V includes a sub-benchmark that exclusively tests the speed of their texture decompression algorithm by repeatedly decompressing the textures required for one of the game’s leader scenes.

Civilization V’s compute benchmark cares little for memory bandwidth or the architectural differences between Barts and Juniper; SPs and clockspeed are what matter here. As a result the 6790 narrowly averts a tie with the 5770 of all things, and the performance relative to NVIDIA’s cards isn’t any better.

Our second GPU compute benchmark is SmallLuxGPU, the GPU ray tracing branch of the open source LuxRender renderer. While it’s still in beta, SmallLuxGPU recently hit a milestone by implementing a complete ray tracing engine in OpenCL, allowing them to fully offload the process to the GPU. It’s this ray tracing engine we’re testing.

SmallLuxGPU ends up being one of the best showings for the 6790, as while it’s obviously compute bound, it definitely benefits from the architectural differences between Barts and Juniper. The 6790’s performance relative to the 6850 almost identically matches the theoretical performance difference, and in spite of the 5770 having a slight theoretical advantage of its own, the 6790 easily beats the 5770 by 16%. This opens up a small window for the 6790 as a lower-priced GPGPU product, but it’s a very small window – the program would need to excel on AMD cards and on Barts over Juniper. Otherwise we see SLG where the 6790 does well versus the 5770, but very poorly compared to NVIDIA’s cards.

At the other end of the spectrum from GPU computing performance is GPU tessellation performance, used exclusively for graphical purposes. Barts’ tessellation improvements should give it an edge over the 5770, but it still has to contend with the 6800 series.

At this point in time none of our games closely match our tessellation results, which shouldn’t be a surprise given the low usage of tessellation. Although Barts isn’t a tessellation monster it could do quite well in the future if tessellation takes off in a manner similar to how these benchmarks use it, but that’s a very big if.

Wolfenstein Power, Temperature, & Noise
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  • Ryan Smith - Tuesday, April 05, 2011 - link

    As a matter of editorial policy I don't like to base my conclusions around future card availability; the only thing for sure about the future is that it's not what I expect it to be.

    "Discontinued" cards are normally available for quite a long time after they're launched, and for the time being the GTX 460 768MB is readily available online and at retail for very good prices.
    Reply
  • silverblue - Tuesday, April 05, 2011 - link

    You only have to think of other "discontinued" products to remember how popular they were for a good time after they were no longer produced - the Radeon HD 4850, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 250 and the AMD Phenom II X3 720 BE spring to mind. Reply
  • jabber - Tuesday, April 05, 2011 - link

    ...simply install another 5770.

    Well its what I did.

    Wonder how the 5770 stacks up to the 6790 with 900/5000+ OC.
    Reply
  • marc1000 - Tuesday, April 05, 2011 - link

    I would love to see some RECENT tests with the 5770 CF... all reviews available are from the time of launch, comparing it with the 5870 only and in old games.

    it would be nice to have a recent comparison of CF/SLI from previously mainstream cards (5770/460)

    :-(
    Reply
  • fingerbob69 - Tuesday, April 05, 2011 - link

    ...this card plays most games with all the effects on full. I want to change it but can't see the point.

    I think the HD7xxx are gonna be game changers though with the bump in performance quite huge compared to HD4xxx and HD5xxx levels.

    As to wether any games are about to test the "*nm cards is another question.
    Reply
  • fingerbob69 - Tuesday, April 05, 2011 - link

    "*nm should read 28nm. Reply
  • jabber - Tuesday, April 05, 2011 - link

    Yeah I feel the 5XXX series were a major improvement that probably did far better than AMD expected, especially as they are still largely an attractive buy, two years later.

    So I saw the 6XXX series as merely a refresh of the 5XXX series. I was in no hurry to buy.

    Hopefully the 7XXX series will be the one to watch out for.
    Reply
  • Hrel - Tuesday, April 05, 2011 - link

    Prices have already "crept up". The GTX460 768MB was available for 130 after rebate for quite a while. Or at least 150 on more expensive brands. Now 150 is the cheapest I can find it. Also, every time you say the GTX460 768MB or the HD6850, if you're getting a 6850 you can get a 1GB GTX 460 for the same price. Just sayin', seems like you're unfairly giving more attention to the AMD product.

    In general though it seems like the GPU manufacturers had a secret meeting where they all got together and decided to start raising prices (profit margins) on all their GPU's. Cause based on performance and past prices the 550ti should be real real close to 100. The 560ti should be basically 200 bucks; 200 is where I'd start recomending that card to people. The GTX460 768MB should be 130 and it should stay there; 1GB should be about 150. And the same can be said for the AMD variants; 6850 would be about 150 and so on.
    Reply
  • Hrel - Tuesday, April 05, 2011 - link

    hmm, just checked prices. Cheapest 1GB 460 I'd buy is 170, gigabyte, cheapest 6850 I'd buy is 155, XFX. So I kinda sorta rescind my statement; but not really. You guys still seem like you root for AMD regardless of who they're compared to. I'm not saying you skew your results and test unfairly; that's why I come here, it just seems like you're all kinda rooting for AMD to get on top in every market. Ofcourse if they did maybe you'd start rooting for Intel and Nvidia... we'll probably never know. Reply
  • H8ff0000 - Tuesday, April 05, 2011 - link

    I know this is unrelated to the article, but does anyone know when AnandTech is going to do some P67 reviews? I'd like to see the Sabertooth P67 Rev 3 reviewed, possibly with some other boards for comparison. Reply

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