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Meet The Radeon HD 6450

Both Turks and Caicos (6450) are cut from the same cloth as Barts, meaning they inherit many of the optimizations we first saw in Barts. A few of the changes in Barts were Barts-exclusive or meaningful only when compared to Cypress, such as the Redwood memory controller, but elsewhere Caicos is picking up these improvements, giving the 6450 a leg up over the 5450.

Coming from the 5450, we’re going to see four big changes for the 6450:

  1. Better performance due to higher clockspeeds and more functional units
  2. Improved tessellation engine
  3. New display controllers
  4. UVD3

Better performance is fairly straightforward, which we’ll see in our benchmarks. Meanwhile the improved tessellation engine probably won’t make a big difference, as 5450 and 6450 are both too slow to play most games with DX11/tessellation enabled. So the notable and useful changes for the 6450 are going to be in the display controller and UVD3.

With the new display controller comes a new set of output options for the 6450. The 6450 has gained both DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 1.4a compliance. The former is going to make it very easy to drive three digital displays from a 6450—cards almost universally come with a VGA port as the 3rd display otherwise. The latter is going to make it possible to drive 120Hz TVs at 120Hz for 3D content, primarily for Blu-ray 3D given the limited rendering capabilities of the 6450.

Of course to display Blu-ray 3D you need to be able to decode the frame-packed streams, and this is where UVD3 comes in. With UVD3 the 6450 gains the ability to decode MVC (frame-packed H.264) streams, along with full MPEG-2 decoding and MPEG-4 ASP (DivX/XviD) decoding. MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 are primarily for the benefit of mobile and Brazos platforms for energy efficiency and performance reasons, but the 6450 can tap into it all the same.

Moving on to the product itself, the card AMD shipped to us for review is very similar to our 5570 sample from last year, featuring a 6.61” low-profile card with a single-slot active cooler. At 27W TDP, power consumption is higher than the 5450, but a passively cooled low-profile 6450 should still be quite practical.

Our sample card is equipped with four 4Gbps Samsung GDDR5 modules running in 16-bit mode, adding up to the 64-bit bus we see on the 6450. Display connectivity is the same as in past AMD low-profile reference cards, featuring a DL-DVI port and a full size DisplayPort on the card, while a VGA port is at the top of the bracket attached to the card via a ribbon cable. The 6450 can drive up to three displays, including three displays through DP1.2 and an MST hub. For HTPC purposes we’d expect to see some cards replace the DisplayPort with an HDMI port.

AMD is primarily marketing this as an upgrade for Intel Sandy Bridge users, extolling the fact that they have DX11 capabilities and better drivers/compatibility than Intel. DX11 likely won’t make a difference for the games the 6450 can play, but we’ve seen first-hand that Intel still misses out on compatibility now and then. Perhaps AMD’s bigger advantage is that in the desktop space virtually all Sandy Bridge systems using the iGPU are using the HD 2000 GPU with 6 EUs instead of the HD 3000 GPU with 12 EUs; so the 6450 is placed against a sub-5450 GPU rather than a 5450-level GPU. In the mobile space however HD 3000 is the most common configuration, which makes things closer for the mobility versions of the 6450.

Introducing Caicos The Perfect HTPC Card? Probably
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  • lukechip - Thursday, April 07, 2011 - link

    In the April 2011 Video Card MSRP list, you've omitted the Radeon HD 6950 2GB. Given that this was the first 6950, and in my mind, the 'real' 6950, why is it not listed ? Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Thursday, April 07, 2011 - link

    The MSRP list isn't mean to be a definitive list of every card at every price point; but still, that was a rather silly omission. I've since added it. Reply
  • ImSpartacus - Thursday, April 07, 2011 - link

    Also missed the GTX 590, but I understand that the purpose of the chart was to show the 6450's position, not to be completely and ultimately definitive. Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Thursday, April 07, 2011 - link

    No, that would be because I'm an idiot.

    The chart was taken from the GTX 550 Ti article, which predated the 590 (which is why it's not there).
    Reply
  • GeorgeH - Thursday, April 07, 2011 - link

    This might be a great HTPC card for an existing box, but unless AMD has seriously screwed up I can't see this card being terribly attractive for much of anything once Llano ships. Reply
  • ImSpartacus - Thursday, April 07, 2011 - link

    I would've liked to see some discussion on that topic. Llano will probably be pitiful on the CPU end, but if they can cram a strong GPU into the product, these $50 GPUs will eventually become extinct. Reply
  • starfalcon - Thursday, April 07, 2011 - link

    I suppose with Llano and Ivy Bridge, discrete graphics for HTPC use will essentially be extinct.
    For gaming I wonder if they will be willing to release any low end graphics that can be beaten by IGPs, if not, then I wonder what the lowest end cards they will release will be.
    Reply
  • vol7ron - Thursday, April 07, 2011 - link

    I agree, unless they will be used in other ways. I'm not sure what max resolution IGPs can support. Also, I'm sure if you use the HTPC as more of a PC than HT, you will probably need the additional parallel processing (or dedicated GPU).

    All-in-all these cards remind me of dedicated cards from the 90s :)
    Reply
  • starfalcon - Friday, April 08, 2011 - link

    I know IGPs can do 2560x1600.
    With Sandy Bridge I think it only can do it with display port but besides that 1920x1200 with HDMI/DVI. Shouldn't be a problem.
    What will you need the additional parallel processing for?
    Or dedicated GPU?
    Sandy Bridge supports quick sync and Llano should have lots of processing capabilities, Ivy Bridge should have more and more stuff also.
    Reply
  • vol7ron - Sunday, April 10, 2011 - link

    Say you're playing a game, want to put it on pause and watch some TV, or have multiple display setups and want to watch TV while playing a game. Add a DVR capture card and you'll be need more CPU and GPU processing.

    I'm just not sure how great the performance would be. Especially assuming you wanted to attach this to a 46"+ display. It might be "capable", but we all know that word is very misleading and quality is hard define when you don't see it with your own eyes.
    Reply

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