• What
    is this?
    You've landed on the AMD Portal on AnandTech. This section is sponsored by AMD. It features a collection of all of our independent AMD content, as well as Tweets & News from AMD directly. AMD will also be running a couple of huge giveaways here so check back for those.
    PRESENTED BY

In 2009-2010, AMD launched the entire 4 chip Evergreen series in 6 months. By previous standards this was a quick pace for a new design, especially since AMD had not previously attempted a 4 chip launch in such a manner. Now in 2012 AMD’s Southern Islands team is hard at work at wrapping up their own launch with new aspirations on quickness. Evergreen may have launched 4 chips in 6 months, but this month AMD will be completing the 3 chip Southern Islands launch in half the time – 3 chips in a mere 3 months.

To that end today AMD is taking the wraps off the final piece of the Southern Islands puzzle: Pitcairn. The middle child of the family, it will be the basis of AMD’s $250+ enthusiast segment Radeon HD 7800 series. We’ve seen AMD capture the high-end with the 7900 series and struggle to control the mainstream market with the 7700 series, but how does the 7800 series fare amidst AMD’s lead in deploying 28nm GPUs? Let’s find out.

AMD GPU Specification Comparison
  AMD Radeon HD 7870 AMD Radeon HD 7850 AMD Radeon HD 6970 AMD Radeon HD 6950 AMD Radeon HD 5870
Stream Processors 1280 1024 1536 1408 1600
Texture Units 80 64 96 88 80
ROPs 32 32 32 32 32
Core Clock 1000MHz 860MHz 880MHz 800MHz 850MHz
Memory Clock 4.8GHz GDDR5 4.8GHz GDDR5 5.5GHz GDDR5 5.0GHz GDDR5 4.8GHz GDDR5
Memory Bus Width 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit
Frame Buffer 2GB 2GB 2GB 2GB 1GB
FP64 1/16 1/16 1/4 1/4 1/5
Transistor Count 2.8B 2.8B 2.64B 2.64B 2.15B
PowerTune Limit 190W 150W 250W 200W N/A
Manufacturing Process TSMC 28nm TSMC 28nm TSMC 40nm TSMC 40nm TSMC 40nm
Architecture GCN GCN VLIW4 VLIW4 VLIW5
Price Point $350 $250 N/A N/A N/A

So what exactly is Pitcairn? In a nutshell, take Cape Verde (7700) and double it, and you have Pitcairn. Pitcairn has twice the number of CUs, twice the number of ROPs, twice the memory bandwidth, and of particular importance twice as many geometry engines on the frontend. This works out to 1280 SPs among 20 CUs – organized as a doubling Cape Verde’s interesting 4/3/3 configuration – 80 texture units, 32 ROPs, 512KB L2 cache, and a 256-bit memory bus. Compared to Tahiti, Pitcairn still has 12 fewer CUs and as a result less shader and texturing performance along with the narrower memory bus, but it has the same number of ROPs and the same frontend as its bigger brother, which as we’ll see creates some very interesting situations.

On the functionality side of things, the Cape Verde comparisons continue. As with all Southern Islands family parts, Pitcairn supports things such as DX10+ SSAA, PowerTune, Fast HDMI support, partially resident textures, D3D 11.1 support, and the still-AWOL Video Codec Engine (VCE). FP64 support is once again present, and like Cape Verde it’s a performance-limited implementation for compatibility and software development purposes, with FP64 performance limited to 1/16th FP32 performance.

AMD’s Pitcairn cards will be the Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition and the Radeon HD 7850. The 7870 is a full Pitcairn, clocked at 1000MHz core and paired with 2GB of GDDR5 running at 4.8GHz. It has a PowerTune limit of 190W while AMD puts its typical board power draw closer to 175, meanwhile idle power consumption is around 10W with a long idle of 3W like the rest of Southern Islands. As for the 7850 it’s the typical lower tier part, featuring 16 active CUs (1024 SPs), an 860MHz core clock, and the same 2GB of GDDR5 running at 4.8GHz as its counterpart, giving it roughly 68% the shading/texturing performance and 86% of the ROP & frontend performance of the 7870. The PowerTune limit is 150W with a typical board power of 130W, and the same 10W/3W idle power consumption as the 7870.

Altogether the 7800 series isn’t just the successor to the Barts based 6800 series in name but also the successor to the 6800 in design. This includes not only power consumption, with one card being a sub-150W part, but also with regards to things such as CrossFire, where it features a single CF connector. Interestingly enough even though Barts was already a fairly small chip for its performance, Pitcairn takes this one step further with a die size of 212mm2, which in turn contains 2.8B transistors, only 160M more than Cayman. As we’ll see when we get to our benchmarks, this makes Pitcairn a surprisingly small chip given its 6970+ performance.

Speaking of the 6970, let’s talk about the 7800 series’ competition. As AMD began winding down Cayman (6900 series) almost immediately with the launch of the 7900 series, at this point the 6900 market has effectively dried up. Having taken themselves out of competition with themselves, AMD’s only competition is NVIDIA’s lineup. From a performance and price basis the 7870 and 7850 don’t map particularly well to any specific NVIDIA products, but generally speaking they’re targeted against the GTX 570 and GTX 560 Ti respectively.

With AMD targeting the ~$320 570 and ~$210 560 Ti and given their conservative pricing on the rest of Southern Islands, it should come as no surprise that the 7800 series is priced equally conservatively. The 7870 will have an MSRP of $350, while the 7850 will have an MSRP of $250. With the 7800 series completing the launch of Southern Islands, this gives AMD a consistent price structure for the entire family: $550, $450, $350, $250, $159, and $109.

Finally, as far as availability goes this will be a delayed launch. AMD is formally unveiling the 7800 series today, but it will not go on sale until the 19th, 2 weeks from now. AMD has said that this is due to both CeBIT and the Game Developers Conference; AMD and their partners want to be able to show off the 7800 series to their respective attendees at those events, with both events being far too large to keep the 7800 under wraps. This delayed launch also means that partner cards aren’t quite ready yet, so we only have AMD’s reference cards on hand. We’ll be taking a look at partner cards later this month.

Spring 2012 GPU Pricing Comparison
AMD Price NVIDIA
Radeon HD 7950 $450 GeForce GTX 580
Radeon HD 7870 $350  
  $330 GeForce GTX 570
Radeon HD 7850 $250  
  $200 GeForce GTX 560 Ti
  $179 GeForce GTX 560
Radeon HD 7770 $159  

 

Meet The Radeon HD 7870 & Radeon HD 7850
POST A COMMENT

173 Comments

View All Comments

  • CeriseCogburn - Thursday, March 08, 2012 - link

    Yet if one is not running gigantic resolutions, they look at the usual, 1920 and 1650 p resolutions, and likely want to crank all the eye candy to the limit, which is still IMPOSSIBLE at those common resolutions with 60+ frames in so many of the popular games.
    So the real problem is you go from "can't do it all" to "still can't do it all" but at least you've got 40 frames going to 55 on your one screen... with maybe one more setting of 7 at ultra...
    ---
    For others with 3x 2560 most of us really don't give a crap if they claim they get 2x frames - because if they don't have 2 or 3 or 4 of them running, they are stuck in turn down the eye candy crapsville TOO.
    --
    We almost always hear that we are stuck with console ports, the exact opposite of the real truth in the real problem.
    A 570 is NOT ENOUGH, a 7870 is not either, nor is a 7970 for 1900x1200.
    IT'S NOT GOOD ENOUGH.
    Reply
  • SlyNine - Thursday, March 08, 2012 - link

    75% was wrong, but so is 70-110% faster.

    Crysis 2560x1600 at the MAX settings its 20 vx 33, which is just over 60%

    Drop down to 1920x1200 at the advantage drops to 50%.

    Metro its 60% at max res/settings (36vs22.5)

    Drop that down to 1920X1200 and its just over 50%

    Dirt 3 its just over 50% at max res/settings Drop that down to 1920x1200 and its remains just above 50% ( 104 vs 68.4)

    Battlefield 3 its 50% (49.7 vs 32.6) at max settings/res.

    So where the heck are you getting 70% to 110% ??

    2 1/2 years ago I payed around 66% of your price, and I'm getting 66% of your performence, ALMOST 3 YEARS. THIS IS NOT MOVING THINGS FORWARD
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Thursday, March 08, 2012 - link

    Get back to us krummer when the 7870 is "released" and has "stable drivers" that "work most of the time" in "most of the games" and the IQ cheats of 10% driver default plus ever more now with this new blur job called MLAA and the lack of LOD bias up high enough that "in the case of SSAA" it's another low detail IQ cut down, not to mention other things like PhysX and tessellation above 10 all the way to 32...the other "unneeded" "eye candy" that "sucks" because amd sucks at doing it.
    *
    9% , minus 10% standardized cheat, minus SSAA LOD bias cheat, minus MLAA blur cheat, minus PhysX, minus 8 other things I won't take time to mention doesn't sound like "faster" to me.
    I mean come on, if the arch is so superior, why all the hack and cheats and crappy blurring and lack of features ?
    Are the drivers going to be another ongoing nightmare for 47% of all ibm pc implementations ?
    Reply
  • chizow - Monday, March 05, 2012 - link

    @ Kiste: Agreed.

    The "competition is necessary" meme needs to die in the tech sector because it isn't necessary.

    Most of this stuff doesn't expire or die on its own, not before it becomes obsolete anyways and in order for it to become obsolete there needs to be innovation and performance increases.

    That's what drives innovation with technology and it certainly exists without competition.
    Reply
  • medi01 - Monday, March 05, 2012 - link

    What are you talking about, considering AMD 7850 is faster in most tests than nVidia's 80$ more expensive 570, at the same time consuming 25% less energy. Reply
  • Malih - Monday, March 05, 2012 - link

    I think this is the decision of the new management, they decide to price something that performs better to price higher.

    Probably will drop the price in the future, but it would require a new release from nVidia with agressive pricing. It is rumored nVidia will release new cards near the end of March.
    Reply
  • biassj - Monday, March 05, 2012 - link

    Shitty pricing again, if the pricing was 50 bucks cheaper I would probably consider buying 7870 or 7950 at this moment. These high prices will just have me wait to see what Nvidia has to offer. Reply
  • piroroadkill - Monday, March 05, 2012 - link

    Huh, I thought it was GTX 570 class for less.

    Seems solid enough.
    Reply
  • piroroadkill - Monday, March 05, 2012 - link

    For the 7850, I mean. Reply
  • chizow - Monday, March 05, 2012 - link

    This pricing isn't nearly as bad as the 7770 or 7950/7970, but its still pretty poor overall given it once again, slides right in to existing price structures offering very little incentive to upgrade and very little price performance value compared to what has been available for 14+ months. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now