It's been one of those long nights, the type where you don't really sleep but rather nap here and there. Normally such nights are brought on by things like Nehalem, or NVIDIA's GT200 launch, but last night was its own unique flavor of all-nighter.

On Monday, AMD had a big press event to talk about its next-generation graphics architecture. We knew that a launch was impending but we had no hardware nor did we have an embargo date when reviews would lift, we were at AMD's mercy.

You may already know about one of AMD's new cards: the Radeon HD 4850. It briefly appeared for sale on Amazon, complete with specs, before eventually getting pulled off the site. It turns out that other retailers in Europe not only listed the card early but started selling them early. In an effort to make its performance embargoes meaningful, AMD moved some dates around.

Here's the deal: AMD is launching its new RV770 GPU next week, and just as the RV670 that came before it, it will be available in two versions. The first version we can talk about today: that's the Radeon HD 4850. The second version, well, just forget that I even mentioned that - you'll have to wait until the embargo lifts for more information there.

But we can't really talk about the Radeon HD 4850, we can only tell you how it performs and we can only tell you things you would know from actually having the card. The RV770 architectural details remain under NDA until next week as well. What we can tell you is how fast AMD's new $199 part is, but we can't tell you why it performs the way it does.

We've got no complaints as we'd much rather stay up all night benchmarking then try to put together another GT200 piece in a handful of hours. It simply wouldn't be possible and we wouldn't be able to do AMD's new chips justice.

What we've got here is the polar opposite of what NVIDIA just launched on Monday. While the GT200 is a 1.4 billion transistor chip found in $400 and $650 graphics cards, AMD's Radeon HD 4850 is...oh wait, I can't tell you the transistor count quite yet. Let's just say it's high, but not as high as GT200 :)

Again, we're not allowed to go into the architectural details of the RV770, the basis for the Radeon HD 4800 series including today's 4850, but we are allowed to share whatever data one could obtain from having access to the card itself, so let's get started.

Running GPU-Z we see that the Radeon HD 4850 shows up as having 800 stream processors, up from 320 in the Radeon HD 3800 series. Remember that the Radeon HD 3800 was built on TSMC's 55nm process and there simply isn't a smaller process available for AMD to use, so the 4800 most likely uses the same manufacturing process. With 2.5x the stream processor count, the RV770 isn't going to be a small chip, while we can't reveal transistor count quite yet you can make a reasonable guess.

Clock speeds are also fair game as they are reported within GPU-Z and AMD's Catalyst control panel:

That's a 625MHz core clock and 993MHz GDDR3 memory clock (1986MHz data rate). We've got more stream processors than the Radeon HD 3870, but they are clocked a bit lower to make up for the fact that there are 2.5x as many on the same manufacturing process.

  ATI Radeon HD 4850 ATI Radeon HD 3870
Stream Processors 800 320
Texture Units I can't tell you 16
ROPs 16 16
Core Clock 625MHz 775MHz+
Memory Clock 993MHz (1986MHz data rate) 1125MHz (2250MHz data rate)
Memory Bus Width 256-bit 256-bit
Frame Buffer 512MB 512MB
Transistor Count it's a secret 666 million
Manufacturing Process TSMC 55nm TSMC 55nm
Price Point $199 $199


The rest of the specs are pretty straightforward, it's got 512MB of GDDR3 connected to a 256-bit bus and the whole card will set you back $199. The Radeon HD 4850 will be available next week, and given that we've already received cards from 3 different manufacturers - we'd say that this thing is going to be available on time.

8-channel LPCM over HDMI


View All Comments

  • Final Destination II - Sunday, June 22, 2008 - link

    Well done!
    Good not everyone here is asleep :)
  • Wwhat - Saturday, June 21, 2008 - link

    I noticed bioshock was not tested at all with AA, so I'm curious, what's the status on that? From what I read you could initially enable AA on ATI by renaming the executable to oblivion.exe and AA was a DX9-only feature, but from what I gather DX10.1 should support AA in DX10 games, that's part of the .1 improvements I thought.
    And I heard nvidia was, back when bioshock came out, working on a driver trick to enable AA in it.
    So I'm wondering what the real life status is on such issues in DX10 games?
  • Griswold - Saturday, June 21, 2008 - link

    How come you need a 1200W PSU when this german guy at">

    runs them in CF with a 750W PSU and even triple CF with 2x 4850 and a 3870?

    Piece of shit PSU on your test bench?
  • geogaddi - Saturday, June 21, 2008 - link

    that, AND my 328xi gets 28 mpg. those ever-efficient germans...

    'ze goggles! zey do nothing!'
  • Glock24 - Saturday, June 21, 2008 - link

    Radeon HD4850
    956 million transistors on 55nm fabrication process
    40 texture units
  • Straputsky - Friday, June 20, 2008 - link

    I think there is a difference in the strategy. nVidia produces one large chip and that's their high-end product. AMD uses smaller chips but puts two of them on one board. There is no need having a crossfire able Motherboard, cause it's only one single card. nVidia can't do that with their GT200 (due to huge Die size, power consumption). That means if nVidia would like to counteract they have to use their G92 chip. I think it's a different thing having Crossfire/SLI realized on one board or two due to the Motherboard restrictions.
    Next thing is cost level: It seems that producing two chips on one board is cheaper than one big chip. And it should be easier to cool down two smaller hotspots than one big one.
  • TheJian - Saturday, June 21, 2008 - link

    Nvidia can't do it today. Correct. But the die shrink has already taped out and should be out in 2 months or so just about the same time AMD does it with 4870x2 which should make a GTX280X2 doable.

    For the next two months you DO need CF for 4870 (which isn't even out yet to begin with) or 4850. Also these two in one cards have driver issues as shown by many sites. You are better off much of the time getting 100% of a single chip than trying to get the same out of two chips. No driver tricks etc are needed with a single large chip. No timing issues and stuttering either with single chip.

    They can just replace the current GX2 with these new + chips to speed up the current GX2. Should produce a nice boost and no new work is even needed. Just swap chips and the design is done. I'm sure they're already working on it or maybe even done just waiting for the need after 4870. A die shrink on GX2 should make a good match for 4870. The same in two months on GTX280 (The shrink will cheapen it up, speed it up and allow dual GTX280) should easily dominate any 4870X2 (even a single one will be problematic, 2 just gives nvidia serious bragging rights).

    I worry AMD didn't quite do enough AGAIN (phenom, mumble grumble). They can't take much more losses before we end up with Intel boning us on cpu's, and Nvidia boning us on video cards. I'd hate to see the low end go to crap as they used to be. If AMD dies nvidia will spread the high/low end further apart again and force us to pay more. Right now $100-200 gets you a damn fine gaming experience. A little overclocking and these cards are superb for the money. I guess we can always hope Intel might actually put out a decent card if AMD dies. Cost would not have been a problem for Nvidia at 55nm. So that's going away in 2 months. It would have made nvidia late to the party so from a stockholder's standpoint it's a great idea as long as you don't lose money on each card. Gimp 2 months until die shrink and then make your money from back to school/xmas all while holding AMD down. Barcy is a prime example of why AMD should have just taken the simple route and glued 2 chips together and put a quad in the market a year early. Heck, even Hector admits this now. With the 4850 at $170 I wonder how much AMD is making on these. But hey, get em while they're hot :) That's a good deal.
  • Final Destination II - Saturday, June 21, 2008 - link

    Your crystal ball future-foretelling skills are asthonishing. Maybe we got us a Nvidia-Insider here?

    I doubt it...

    Nvidia (living up to it's name) will do its best to stop the HD 4850, but this time ATI has the borg card: resistance is futile. It's an over all nicer, faster, cheaper package they assembled.

    Plus, I won't just sit here and talk - I will buy one (or the HD4870 - gotta wait a bit till that thing is benchmarked).
  • TheJian - Saturday, June 21, 2008 - link

    No crystal ball just common sense. NO nvidia insider either. The taping out of the die shrunk GT200 has been reported elsewhere already, I'm not forecasting anything. It's widely known you can have a card in hand 12 weeks from tapeout. What's surprising about Nvidia wanting to shrink a FREAKY huge expensive chip? If you need a crystal ball to predict what I said you should just give it up. What's "over all nicer"? 4850 is probably faster than a 9800GTX (but I wonder about minimums - see below)? Cheaper? Not by much after the price cut and 9800GTX+ announcement.">
    Even AMD sees the 4850 competing against the 8800, NOT 9800GTX which is reserved for the 4870 in their slide. Now the GTX is priced competitively to the 4850 raining on AMD's slide. The 4870 is expected to be $299 or so. It's now competing against a $229 9800GTX+ which got a pretty healthy performance boost. No crystal ball needed to see tough times for 4870 $299 vs 9800GTX+ $229. Just as tough for 4850 vs 9800GTX now. Is AMD going to revamp that slide now? AMD KNEW the performance of all these cards (except maybe GTX280/260) before making that slide. Expect another price cut after all 9800GTX's are gone and every one is a GTX+ die shrunk version allowing much cheaper pricing. AMD isn't going to become profitable at these prices, and especially not when nvidia is shrinking the price defecit of everything in the span of 2 months. With the GX2 going for $415 after rebate at newegg, and a die shrink undoubtedly coming shortly, how much will it cost then? Nvidia cut GTX from $269 to $200. That's $70 and it only has one shrink. What will GX2 get with 2 chips shrinking? Even if you just take the $70 off that puts it REALLY close to a single $299 4870. Which would you take? GX2+ will walk away with that one. I could see myself upgrading from 8800GTOC to GX2+ for $280-300 at xmas this year :) I figure it will debut at $340-350 and should easily make $300 by xmas.

    Anand's 4850 vs 9800GTX shows:
    Those are just avg's though. When you look at the minimum fps things change a bit.">
    Anand shows 4850 @ 43fps vs GTX 40.7 at 2560x1600. PCPer shows GTX winning minimums at 2048x1536 and up. The GTX+ does it from above 1600x1200. I'm interested in seeing hardocp/pcper extensive 4850 minimums now. Pcper only did 2 games so far.

    Do you need a crystal ball to predict everything will shrink and get cheaper? Punch "GT200 die shrink taped out" into google. It was reported in may. It's only 2 months out. GX2+ just needs to change out old 65nm for already shrunk GTX+ chips, nothing special there. Why is this confusing to you? You don't think the price will drop from $415 when 4870 arrives? With 2 chips shrinking 100mm's or so each? Both will be running faster also. OUCH. 4870 has a tough sell vs a FASTER/CHEAPER GX2+. AS it stood when 4850 reviews hit AMD looked pretty good. But cheaper + models with more speed for ALL of nvidia's lineup in 2 months sucks for AMD. Even if Nvidia takes an extra month on all this it still sucks for AMD. Nvidia will be in time for back to school/xmas which pretty much makes either sides FY (heck Intel etc for that matter...H2 is where the money is made). Nothing I said is news. I just repeated it. The GT200 will drop from 576mm to 400mm. Quite a savings in cost/heat/watts, and allows cranking it up more. AMD can't afford another price war. They just started nosing around AGAIN for more money from Dubai last week. They're already 5B in debt. They are expected to show a FY09 loss AGAIN. Can they survive another 1.5yr without profit?
  • Miggle - Tuesday, June 24, 2008 - link

    4850 can be had for as low as $170. That's cheaper than the new price on the 9800GTX. You've confirmed yourself that the 4850 is generally faster than the 9800GTX (except for the min fps at uber high resolutions that most wouldnt/couldnt play on). The new price on the 9800GTX hasn't been implemented yet for what I know. AMD wins here.

    Then we have the GTX+ which has been well received in available reviews and is a bit faster than the 4850, priced at $230. I've read somewhere that a DDR5 version of the 4850 will be released for $230. It boasts a much faster memory speed but the core would be clocked the same. Which would be a better buy, we've yet to find out.

    Finally, we have the 4870 which AMD has placed against the GTX. But knowing that even the GTX+ is about on par with the 4850, I wouldn't agree with AMD. The 4870 should be about 20-30% faster than the current 4850 (based on released numbers from unconfirmed sources) and (hopefully) have dual slot cooling so its on a league of its own once released. We've yet to see how NV will respond to this one.

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