Sometimes a surprise is nice. Other times it’s nice for things to go as planned for once.

Compared to the HD 4800 series launch, AMD’s launch of the HD 5800 series today is going to fall into the latter category. There are no last-minute announcements or pricing games, or NDAs that get rolled back unexpectedly. Today’s launch is about as normal as a new GPU launch can get.

However with the lack of last-minute surprises, it becomes harder to keep things under wraps. When details of a product launch are announced well ahead of time, inevitably someone on the inside can’t help but leak the details of what’s going on. The result is that what we have to discuss today isn’t going to come as a great surprise for some of you.

As early as a week ago the top thread on our video forums had the complete and correct specifications for the HD 5800 series. So if you’ve been peaking at what’s coming down the pipe (naughty naughty) then much of this is going to be a confirmation of what you already know.

Today’s Launch

3 months ago AMD announced the Evergreen family of GPUs, AMD’s new line of DirectX11 based GPUs. 2 weeks ago we got our first briefing on the members of the Evergreen family, and AMD publically announced their Eyefinity technology running on the then-unnamed Radeon HD 5870. Today finally marks the start of the Evergreen launch, with cards based on the first chip, codename Cypress, being released. Out of Cypress comes two cards: The Radeon HD 5870, and the Radeon HD 5850.

  ATI Radeon HD 5870 ATI Radeon HD 5850 ATI Radeon HD 4890 ATI Radeon HD 4870
Stream Processors 1600 1440 800 800
Texture Units 80 72 40 40
ROPs 32 32 16 16
Core Clock 850MHz 725MHz 850MHz 750MHz
Memory Clock 1.2GHz (4.8GHz data rate) GDDR5 1GHz (4GHz data rate) GDDR5 975MHz (3900MHz data rate) GDDR5 900MHz (3600MHz data rate) GDDR5
Memory Bus Width 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit
Frame Buffer 1GB 1GB 1GB 1GB
Transistor Count 2.15B 2.15B 959M 956M
Manufacturing Process TSMC 40nm TSMC 40nm TSMC 55nm TSMC 55nm
Price Point $379 $259 ~$180 ~$160

So what’s Cypress in a nutshell? It’s a RV790 (Radeon HD 4890) with virtually everything doubled, given the additional hardware needed to meet the DirectX 11 specifications, with new features such as Eyefinity  and angle independent anisotropic filtering packed in, lower idle power usage, and fabricated on TSMC’s 40nm process. Beyond that Cypress is a direct evolution/refinement of the RV7xx, and closely resembles its ancestor in design and internal workings.

The leader of the Evergreen family is the Radeon HD 5870, which will be AMD’s new powerhouse card. The 5870 features 1600 stream processors divided among 20 SIMDs, 80 texture units, and 32 ROPs, with 1GB of GDDR5 on-board connected to a 256bit memory bus. The 5870 is clocked at 850MHz for the core clock, and 1.2GHz (4.8GHz effective) for the memory, giving it a maximum compute performance of 2.72 teraflops. Load power is 188W, and idle power is a tiny 27W. It is launching at a MSRP of $379.

Below that we have the 5850 (which we will not be reviewing today), which is a slightly cut-down version of the 5870. Here we have 1440 stream processors divided among 18 SIMDs, 72 texture units, and the same 32 ROPs, with the same 256bit memory bus. The 5850 is clocked at 725Mhz for the core, and 1Ghz for the memory, giving it a maximum compute performance of 2.09 TFLOPS. With the disabled units, load power is slightly reduced to 170W, and it has the same 27W idle power. AMD expects the 5850 to perform at approximately 80% the performance level of the 5870, and is pricing it at $259.

Availability is going to be an issue, so we may as well get the subject out of the way. While today is a hard launch, it’s not quite as hard of a launch as we would like to see. AMD is launching the 5800 series with Dell, so it shouldn't come as a surprise if Dell has cards when e-tailers don't.

The situation with general availability is murky at best. The first thing we heard was that there may be a week of lag, but as of today AMD is telling us that they expect e-tailers to have 5870 cards on the 23rd, and 5850 cards next week. In any case whatever cards do make it in the channel are going to be in short supply, which matches the overall vibe we’re getting from AMD that supplies are going to be tight initially compared to the demand. So even after the first few days it may be hard to get a card. Given a tight supply we’ll be surprised if prices stick to the MSRP, and we’re likely to see e-tailers charge a price premium in the first days. Depending on just how high the demand is, this may mean it’ll take a while for prices to fall down to their MSRPs and for AMD to completely clear the backlog of demand for these cards.

Update: As of 5am EDT, we have seen the availability of 5870s come and go. Newegg had some in stock, but they have since sold out. So indeed AMD did make the hard launch (which we're always glad to see), but it looks like our concerns about a limited supply are proving to be true.

Finally, we asked AMD about the current TSMC 40nm situation, and they have told us that they are happy with it. Our concern was that problems at TSMC (specifically: yield) would be a holdup in getting more cards out there, but this does not look to be the case. However given the low supply of the cards compared to where AMD expects the supply to be, TSMC’s total 40nm capacity may not be to AMD’s liking.

Meet the 5870
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  • ilnot1 - Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - link

    In fact, going by the lowest Newegg prices, this is how the top setups would stack up today:

    5870 CF .......= $760
    GTX 285 SLI .= $592
    GTX 295 .......= $470
    GTX 275 SLI .= $420
    5870 ............= $380
    4890 CF ........= $360
    4870 X2 ........= $330

    This would make the 4890 CF or the 275 SLI setups the best value. And yes I realize there will be availability issues and price adjustments over the next month or so.
  • DominionSeraph - Thursday, September 24, 2009 - link

    you forgot:

    4870 CF: $260-280

    and how about the $180 4850 CF, which is probably the best price/performance for sub-1920x1200 gaming."> You can even get 1GB versions for ~$190.
  • ilnot1 - Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - link

    Another very good review, thanks.

    But piggy backing on what wicko said, I'm surprised you didn't include two 4890 in CF. Seeing as how you can get two 4890 for less than a 5870 (whenever they are actually available). $180 x 2 = $360 < $379. And this from Newegg, not some super special sale price.">
  • Ryan Smith - Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - link

    It's something we would have included if we had the cards. I don't have 2 4890s, and we couldn't get a second one in time.
  • AnotherGuy - Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - link

    as always anandtech rox
  • nbjsl2000 - Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - link

    Finally time to upgrade..
  • SiliconDoc - Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - link

    Not only all that, but when there were 13 big titles for PhysX and a hundred smaller ones, we were told here, "Meh", who needs it.
    Now, we have a papery and unavailable (egg)except by pre-order(tiger) 5870 launch, a not-existing 5850, with guess what ? NO DX11 games!
    Oh wait, there is actually just ONE - see page 7 of review. LOL
    Conclusion ?: " It looks like NO(err.. just one) DX11 games ready, so... it also looks like NVidia is launching at the right time, and ATI blew their dry unimpressive wad on a piece of paper porn. "
    Gee no one crowing about the first DX11 card... imagine that...

    Good thing , too, considering how 13 big or a hundred titles small of PhysX enhanced games was "nothing to change one's purchase decision over". At least Anand got addicted to Mirror's Edge with PhysX enabled before concluding in the article "meh" this PhysX thing is ok if you like this game, but who cares...
    Now we have the DX11 pre DX11 games launch with a paper product, so crowing about it wouldn't be too fitting, huh.

  • monomer - Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - link

    Why would a developer would release a DX11 game before DX11 is even available?
  • SiliconDoc - Friday, September 25, 2009 - link

    Why would a developer release a DX11 card before DX11 is even available ?
    (I suppose you'll have to unscrew your hate nvidia foil cap, and grind in the red spikes in it's place to answer that one.)
    However, allow me, instead.
    1.I have been running windows 7 32&64 for quite some time now, not sure why you haven't been.
    2. Battleforge, an ATI promo game, as noted in the review, has released their DX11 patch, hence, with W7 from MSFT (the beta+ free trial good till March 1st 2010 or something like that) I believe any gamer has had a reasonable chance to preview DX11.
    So anyway...
  • cactusdog - Friday, September 25, 2009 - link

    Ya , ATI has done it again. Excellent performance for a fair price. If Nvidia released this exact card it would be $150-$200 more expensive.
    LOL, Nvidia sales are gonna be slow for a while.

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