Crysis: Warhead

Kicking things off as always is Crysis: Warhead. It’s no longer the toughest game in our benchmark suite, but it’s still a technically complex game that has proven to be a very consistent benchmark. Thus even 4 years since the release of the original Crysis, “but can it run Crysis?” is still an important question, and the answer continues to be “no.” While we’re closer than ever, full Enthusiast settings at a 60fps is still beyond the grasp of a single-GPU card.

Crysis: Warhead

Crysis: Warhead

Crysis: Warhead

This year we’ve finally cranked our settings up to full Enthusiast quality for 2560 and 1920, so we can finally see where the bar lies. To that extent the 7970 is closer than any single-GPU card before as we’d imagine, but it’s going to take one more jump (~20%) to finally break 60fps at 1920.

Looking at the 7970 relative to other cards, there are a few specific points to look at; the GTX 580 is of course its closest competitor, but we can also see how it does compared to AMD’s previous leader, the 6970, and how far we’ve come compared to DX10 generation cards.

One thing that’s clear from the start is that the tendency for leads to scale with the resolution tested still stands. At 2560 the 7970 enjoys a 26% lead over the GTX 580, but at 1920 that’s only a 20% lead and it shrinks just a bit more to 19% at 1680. Even compared to the 6970 that trend holds, as a 32% lead is reduced to 28% and then 26%. If the 7970 needs high resolutions to really stretch its legs that will be good news for Eyefinity users, but given that most gamers are still on a single monitor it may leave AMD closer to 40nm products in performance than they’d like.

Speaking of 40nm products, both of our dual-GPU entries, the Radeon HD 6990 and GeForce GTX 590 are enjoying lofty leads over the 7970 even with the advantage of its smaller fabrication process. To catch up to those dual-GPU cards from the 6970 would require a 70%+ increase in performance, and even with a full node difference it’s clear that this is not going to happen. Not that it’s completely out of reach for the 7970 once you start looking at overclocking, but the reduction in power usage when moving from TSMC 40nm to 28nm isn’t nearly large enough to make that happen while maintaining the 6970’s power envelope. Dual-GPU owners will continue to enjoy a comfortable lead over even the 7970 for the time being, but with the 7970 being built on a 28nm process the power/temp tradeoff for those cards is even greater compared to 40nm products.

Meanwhile it’s interesting to note just how much progress we’ve made since the DX10 generation though; at 1920 the 7970 is 130% faster than the GTX 285 and 170% faster than the Radeon HD 4870. Existing users who skip a generation are a huge market for AMD and NVIDIA, and with this kind of performance they’re in a good position to finally convince those users to make the jump to DX11.

Finally it should be noted that Crysis is often a good benchmark for predicting overall performance trends, and as you will see it hasn’t let us down here. How well the 7970 performs relative to its competition will depend on the specific game, but 20-25% isn’t too far off from reality.

Crysis: Warhead - Minimum Frame Rate

Crysis: Warhead - Minimum Frame Rate

Crysis: Warhead - Minimum Frame Rate

Looking at our minimum framerates it’s a bit surprising to see that while the 7970 has a clear lead when it comes to average framerates the minimums are only significantly better at 2560. At that resolution the lowest framerate for the 7970 is 23.5 versus 20 for the GTX 580, but at 1920 that becomes a 2fps, 5% difference. It’s not that the 7970 was any less smooth in playing Crysis, but in those few critical moments it looks to be dipping a bit more than the GTX 580.

Compared to the 6970 on the other hand the minimum framerate difference is much larger and much more consistent. At 2560 the 7970’s minimums are 29% better, and even at lower resolutions it holds at around 25%. Clearly even with AMD’s new architecture their designs still inherit some of the traits of their old designs.

The Test Metro: 2033
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  • CeriseCogburn - Thursday, March 08, 2012 - link

    That happened at the end of 2006 with the G80 Roald. That means AMD and their ATI Radeon aquisition crew are five years plus late to the party.
    FIVE YEARS LATE.
    It's nice to know that what Nvidia did years ago and recently as well is now supported by more people as amd copycats the true leader.
    Good deal.
    Reply
  • Hauk - Thursday, December 22, 2011 - link

    A stunningly comprehensive analysis of this new architecture. This is what sets Anandtech apart from its competition. Kudos Ryan, this is one of your best.. Reply
  • eastyy - Thursday, December 22, 2011 - link

    its funny though when it comes to new hardware you read these complicated technical jargon and lots of detailed specs about how cards do things different how much more technically complicated and in the end for me all it means is...+15fps and thats about it

    as soon as a card comes out for say 150 and the games i play become slow and jerky on my 460 then i will upgrade
    Reply
  • Mockingbird - Thursday, December 22, 2011 - link

    I'd like to see some benchmarks on FX-8150 based system (990fx) Reply
  • piroroadkill - Friday, December 23, 2011 - link

    Haha, the irony is that AMD is putting out graphics cards that would be bottlenecked HARDCORE by ANY of their CPUs, overclocked as much as you like.

    It's kind of tragic...
    Reply
  • Pantsu - Friday, December 23, 2011 - link

    The performance increase was as expected, at least for me, certainly not for all those who thought this would double performance. Considering AMD had a 389mm^2 chip with Cayman, they weren't going to double the transistor count again. That would've meant the next gen after this would be Nvidia class huge ass chip. So 64% more transistors on a 365mm^2 chip. Looks like transistor density increase took a bit of a hit on 28nm, perhaps because of 384-bit bus? Still I think AMD is doing better than Nvidia when it comes to density.

    As far as the chip size is concerned, the performance is OK, but I really question whether 32 ROPs is enough on this design. Fermi has 48 ROPs and about a billion transistors less. I think AMD is losing AA performance due to such a skimpy ROP count.

    Overall the card is good regardless, but the pricing is indeed steep. I'm sure people will buy it nonetheless, but as a 365mm^2 chip with 3GB GDDR5 I feel like it should be 100$ cheaper than what it is now. I blame lack of competition. It's Nvidia's time to drop the prices. GTX 580 is simply not worth that much compared to what 6950/560Ti are going for these days. And in turn that should drop 7970/50 price.
    Reply
  • nadavvadan - Friday, December 23, 2011 - link

    Am I really tired, or is:
    " 3.79TFLOPs, while its FP64 performance is ¼ that at 947MFLOPs"
    supposed to be:
    " 3.79TFLOPs, while its FP64 performance is ¼ that at 947-G-FLOPs"?

    Enjoyed the review as always.
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Friday, December 23, 2011 - link

    Now that you have changed the benchmark, would it be possible to publish a .pdf with the relevant settings of each game? I would be very interested to replicate some of the tests with my home system to better compare some results. If it is not too much work that is (and others are interested in this as well). :D Reply
  • marc1000 - Friday, December 23, 2011 - link

    What about juniper? Could it make it's way to the 7000 series as a 7670 card? Of course, upgraded to GCN, but with same specs as current cards. I guess that at 28nm it would be possible to abandon the pci-e power requirement, making it the go-to card for oem's and low power/noise systems.

    I would not buy it because I own one now, but I'm looking forward to 7770 or 7870 and their nvidia equivalent. It looks like next year will be a great time to upgrade for who is in the middle cards market.
    Reply
  • Scali - Saturday, December 24, 2011 - link

    I have never heard Jen-Hsun call the mock-up a working board.
    They DID however have working boards on which they demonstrated the tech-demos.
    Stop trying to make something out of nothing.
    Reply

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