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 - Saturday, June 21, 2008 - link

    Btw, I have a 7600GT. I don't have to upgrade each week, because I have a display 1280x1024 display and don't care at all for 2500xquadrizillion resolutions.

    Plus, you constantly keep forgetting that the HD4850 rules in quality settings.

    Anyway. There are 5 things I will never do:
    - burn my money
    - install SLI
    - install Crossfire
    - burn my money while achieving 5% more performance ("yay! that's worth it!" says the enthusiast. "what a moron" say I...)
    - install one of those ridiculous dual-chip power burners - thanks, I already got me a nice heater for the winter.

    If you check statistics you will see that you are quite alone on your enthusiast throne, looking down on people who "only" get 85% of your performance for 33% the money.
    In fact, I would call those the "intelligent people"...
  • superkdogg - Monday, June 23, 2008 - link

    I am similar to this guy ^^^.

    I have three display options: 12x10 19" LCD monitor, 37" 720p TV, and a VGA projector. Granted the projector kinda sucks, but there's nothing quite like using the garage door as your gaming screen.

    For reason of not having a super display (nor really wanting one) having a usable video card gets really, really simple. I actually still have my x800 GTO2 flashed to x850xt and overclocked. Laugh if you want, but other than being old and not supporting newer shader models (a big deal for some, not to me) it still puts together playable framerates in many games.

    So, now that I've explained where I come from, I can say that the 4850 has my attention. I'm never going to be the $600 graphics card guy, but being the $200 graphics card guy and being able to turn up all the detail settings for most games and being 'bottlenecked' at the monitor sounds good to me.
  • Final Destination II - Saturday, June 21, 2008 - link

  • Final Destination II - Saturday, June 21, 2008 - link

    "Expect another price cut after all 9800GTX's are gone and every one is a GTX+"

    Great. That's the way to kick your own customers in the ass. Remember the price slide on the iPhone? That's what will happen to Nvidia. Frustrated 9800GTX buyers will realize that their precious $300 they bought 2 weeks ago is worth $100 less and worse than ever.

    Sorry, guy - but's that's no reason to buy another one. That's a reason to stick with it and feel sorry for each HD4850 that passes you.
  • Final Destination II - Saturday, June 21, 2008 - link

    55nm NV280? Could it be that you are confusing the 9800GTX+ with your personal wishes? Reply
  • Straputsky - Saturday, June 21, 2008 - link

    Oh, I already expected that nVidia will use the 55nm process asap. But when I look to the ATI chip (about 250mm^2) and then the nVidia (as you mentioned about 400mm^2) I still wonder if it's possible to use two of them on one board. The power consumption might be less, but I think it's still far to high.
    Have a look at the G92b. It's shrinked but due to the higher clock it uses more power than the old one. ATIs new X2 consumes a bit more power than one 280GTX and I think that's the upper end of what might be possible with air cooling. If you want to use two 280GTX you have to reduce power consumption by nearly 50%. I think that's more than you can get from the 55nm process. Maybe you can put together two 260GTX with lower clock speeds - but for which price tag? >400€? At this price level people tend to buy two 280GTX cause price doesn't matter anymore.
    Maybe you're right but until I see it, I won't believe it.
  • magnusr - Friday, June 20, 2008 - link

    Does it support 7.1 LPCM 192kHz 24bit? Good enough to disable onboard sound / audio cards?

    Tested it with receivers who supports LPCM?

    IS ATIs HDCP and drivers just as stable as Nvidia regarding connections through receivers? Had some trouble with the old 3870 while my current 9600GT works fine.
  • madgonad - Friday, June 20, 2008 - link

    Come on Derek and Anand!

    Give us gaming/HTPC lovers some info.

    What kind of audio can you get out of a BluRay?
    Will games fully utilize all seven channels, or just default to stereo?
    Are any levels of EAX supported?
    Does it have the equivalent of DD Live or DTS Connect so that games will be played in 5.1/7.1?

    These are important questions that nobody has answered due to the overwhelming infatuation with Crysis scores.

    Also, how well does it upscale DVDs? In theory that teraflop of processing power could do a lot.
  • rgsaunders - Saturday, June 21, 2008 - link

    You are wasting your time asking Anandtech to do balanced reviews with something other than gaming scores. I have tried on numerous occasions over the last several years to get them to broaden their testing, but it seems all the reviewers are adolescent gamers. They still haven't figured out that gamers are a minority of users. Reply
  • DerekWilson - Monday, June 23, 2008 - link

    we're always open to new test applications and investigative directions.

    specific suggestions will get the best results. especially if you can point us to a reliable, repeatable, fair test to use for a certain real world application.

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