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


View All Comments

  • SiliconDoc - Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - link

    I was here before this site was even on the map let alone on your radar, and have NEVER had any other acct name.
    I will wait for your APOLOGY.
  • ol1bit - Friday, September 25, 2009 - link

    Goodbye 8800gt SLI... nothing has given me the bang for the buck upgrade that this card does!

    I paid $490 for my SLI 8800Gt's in 11/07

    $379 Sweetness!
  • Brazos - Thursday, September 24, 2009 - link

    I always get nostalgic for Tech TV when a new gen of video cards come out. Watching Leo, Patrick, et al. discuss the latest greatest was like watching kids on Christmas morning. And of course there was Morgan.
  • totenkopf - Thursday, September 24, 2009 - link

    SiliconDoc, this is pathetic. Why are you so upset? No one cares about arguing the semantics of hard or paper launches. Besides, where the F is Nvidias Gt300 thingy? You post here more than amd fanboys, yet you hate amd... just hibernate until the gt300 lauunches and then you can come back and spew hatred again.

    Seriously... the fact that you cant even formulate a cogent argument based on anything performance related tells me that you have already ceded the performance crown to amd. Instead, you've latched onto this red herring, the paper launch crap. stop it. just stop it. You're like a crying child. Please just be thankful that amd is noww allowing you to obtain more of your nvidia panacea for even less money!

    Hooray competition! EVERYONE WINS! ...Except silicon doc. He would rather pay $650 for a 280 than see ati sell one card. Ati is the best thing that ever happened to nvidia (and vice versa) Grow the F up and dont talk about bias unless you have none yourself. Hope you dont electrocute yourself tonight while making love to you nvidia card.
  • SiliconDoc - Thursday, September 24, 2009 - link

    " Hooray competition! EVERYONE WINS! ...Except silicon doc. He would rather pay $650 for a 280 than see ati sell one card."
    And thus you have revealed your deep seated hatred of nvidia, in the common parlance seen.
    Frankly my friend, I still have archived web pages with $500 HD2900XT cards from not that long back, that would easily be $700 now with the inflation we've seen.
    So really, wnat is your red raving rooster point other than you totally excuse ATI tnat does exactly the same thing, and make your raging hate nvidia whine, as if "they are standalone guilty".
    You're ANOTHER ONE, that repeats the same old red fan cleche's, and WON'T OWN UP TO ATI'S EXACT SAME BEHAVIOR ! Will you ? I WANT TO SEE IT IN TEXT !
    In other words, your whole complaint is INVALID, because you apply it exclusively, in a BIASED fashion.
    Now tell me about the hundres of dollars overpriced ati cards, won't you ? No, you won't. See that is the problem.
  • silverblue - Friday, September 25, 2009 - link

    If you think companies are going to survive without copying what other companies do, you're sadly mistaken.

    Yes, nVidia has made advances, but so has ATI. When nVidia brought out the GF4 Ti series, it supported Pixel Shader 1.3 whereas ATI's R200-powered 8500 came out earlier with the more advanced Pixel Shader 1.4. ATI were the first of the two companies to introduce a 256-bit memory bus on their graphics cards (following Matrox). nVidia developed Quincunx, which I still hold in high regard. nVidia were the first to bring out Shader Model 3. I still don't know of any commercially available nVidia cards with GDDR5.

    We could go on comparing the two but it's essential that you realise that both companies have developed technologies that have been adopted by the other. However, we wouldn't be so far down this path without an element of copying.

    The 2900XT may be overpriced because it has GDDR4. I'm not interested in it and most people won't be.

    "In other words, your whole complaint is INVALID, because you apply it exclusively, in a BIASED fashion. " Funny, I thought we were seeing that an nauseum from you?

    Why did I buy my 4830? Because it was cheaper than the 9800GT and performed at about the same level. Not because I'm a "red rooster".

    ATI may have priced the 5870 a little high, but in terms of its pure performance, it doesn't come too far off the 295 - a card we know to have two GPUs and costs more. In the end, perhaps AMD crippled it with the 256-bit interface, but until they implement one you'll be convinced that it's a limitation. Maybe, maybe not. GT300 may just prove AMD wrong.
  • SiliconDoc - Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - link

    You have absolutely zero proof that we wouldn't be further down this path without the "competition".
    Without a second company or third of fourth or tenth, the monopoly implements DIVISIONS that complete internally, and without other companies, all the intellectual creativity winds up with the same name on their paycheck.
    You cannot prove what you say has merit, even if you show me a stagnant monopoly, and good luck doing that.
    As ATI stagnated for YEARS, Nvidia moved AHEAD. Nvidia is still ahead.
    In fact, it appears they have always been ahead, much like INTEL.
    You can compare all you want but "it seems ati is the only one interested in new technology..." won't be something you'll be blabbing out again soon.
    Now you try to pass a lesson, and JARED the censor deletes responses, because you two tools think you have a point this time, but only with your deleting and lying assumptions.
    You're the one whose big far red piehole spewed out the lie to begin with.

  • Finally - Friday, September 25, 2009 - link

    The term "Nvidiot" somehow sprung to my mind. How come? Reply
  • silverblue - Thursday, September 24, 2009 - link

    Youre spot on about his bias. Every single post consists of trash-talking pretty much every ATI card and bigging up the comparative nVidia offering. I think the only product he's not complained about is the 4770, though oddly enough that suffered horrific shortage issues due to (surprise) TSMC.

    Even if there were 58x0 cards everywhere, he'd moan about the temperature or the fact it should have a wider bus or that AMD are finally interested in physics acceleration in a proper sense. I'll concede the last point but in my opinion, what we have here is a very good piece of technology that will (like CPUs) only get better in various aspects due to improving manufacturing processes. It beats every other single GPU card with little effort and, when idle, consumes very little juice. The technology is far beyond what RV770 offers and at least, unlike nVidia, ATI seems more interested in driving standards forward. If not for ATI, who's to say we'd have progressed anywhere near this far?

    No company is perfect. No product is perfect. However, to completely slander a company or division just because he buys a competitor's products is misguided to say the least. Just because I own a PC with an AMD CPU, doesn't mean I'm going to berate Intel to high heaven, even if their anti-competitive practices have legitimised such criticism. nVidia makes very good products, and so does ATI. They each have their own strengths and weaknesses, and I'd certainly not be using my 4830 without the continued competition between the two big performance GPU manufacturers; likewise, SiliconDoc's beloved nVidia-powered rig would be a fair bit weaker (without competition, would it even have PhysX? I doubt it).
  • SiliconDoc - Thursday, September 24, 2009 - link

    Well, that was just amazing, and you;re wrong about me not complaining about the 4770 paper launch, you missed it.
    I didn't moan about the temperature, I moaned about the deceptive lies in the review concerning temperatures, that gave ATI a complete pass, and failed to GIVE THE CREDIT DUE THAT NVIDIA DESERVES because of the FACTS, nothing else.
    The article SPUN the facts into a lying cobweb of BS. Juzt like so many red fans do in the posts, and all over the net, and you've done here. It is so hard to MAN UP and admit the ATI cards run hotter ? Is is that bad for you, that you cannot do it ? Certainly the article FAILED to do so, and spun away instead.
    Next, you have this gem " at least, unlike nVidia, ATI seems more interested in driving standards forward."
    Here, let me help you, another "banned" secret that the red roosters keep to their chest so their minions can spew crap like you just did: ATI STOLE THE NVIDIA BRIDGE TECHNOLOGY, ATI HAD ONLY A DONGLE OUTSIDE THE CASE, WHILE NVIDIA PROGRESSED TO INTERNAL BRIDGE. AFTER ATI SAW HOW STUPID IT WAS, IT COPIED NVIDIA.
    See, now there's one I'll bet a thousand bucks you never had a clue about.
    I for one, would NEVER CLAIM that either company had the lock on "forwarding technbology", and I IN FACT HAVE NEVER DONE SO, EVER !
    But you red fans spew it all the time. You spew your fanboyisms, in fact you just did, that are absolutely outrageous and outright red leaning lies, period!
    you: " at least, unlike nVidia, ATI seems more interested in driving standards forward...."
    I would like to ask you, how do you explain the never before done MIMD core Nvidia has, and will soon release ? How can you possibly say what you just said ?
    If you'd like to give credit to ATI going with DRR4 and DDR5 first, I would have no problem, but you people DON'T DO THAT. You take it MUCH FURTHER, and claim, as you just did, ATI moves forward and nvidia does not. It's a CONSTANT REFRAIN from you people.
    Did you read the article and actually absorb the OpenCL information ? Did you see Nvidia has an implementation, is "ahead" of ati ? Did you even dare notice that ? If not, how the hell not, other than the biased wording the article has, that speaks to your emotionally charged hate Nvidia mindset :
    "However, to completely slander a company or division just because he buys a competitor's products is misguided to say the least."
    That is NOT TRUE for me, as you stated it, but IT IS TRUE FOR YOU, isn't it ?
    You in fact SLANDERED Nvidia, by claiming only ATI drives forward tech, or so it seems to you...
    I've merely been pointing out the many statements all about like you just made, and their inherent falsehood!
    Here next, you pull the ol' switcharoo, and do what you say you won't do, by pointing out you won't do it! roflmao: " doesn't mean I'm going to berate Intel to high heaven, even if their anti-competitive practices have legitimised such criticism.."
    Well, you just did berate them, and just claimed it was justified, cinching home the trashing quickly after you claimed you wouldn't, but have utterly failed to point out a single instance, unlike myself- I INCLUDE the issues and instances, pointing them out imtimately and often in detail, like now.
    LOL you: " I'd certainly not be using my 4830 without ...."
    Well, that shows where you are coming from, but you're still WRONG. If either company dies, the other can move on, and there's very little chance that the company will remain stagnant, since then they won't sell anything, and will die, too.
    After it had it's "dark period" of failure and depair, where Nvidia had the lone top spot, and even produced the still useful and amazing GTX8800 ultimate (with no competition of any note in sight, you failed to notice, even to this day - and claim the EXACT OPPOSITE- because you, a dead brained red, bought the "rebrand whine" lock stock and barrel), ATI "re-emerged", and in fact, doesn't rteally deserve praise for falling off the wagon for a year or two.
    See, that's the truth. The big fat red fib, you liars can stop lying about is the "stagnant technology without competition" whine.
    ATI had all the competition it could ever ask for, and it EPIC FAILED for how many years ? A couple, let's say, or one if you just can't stand the truth, and NVIDIA, not stagnated whatsoever, FLEW AHEAD AND RELEASED THE MASSIVE GTX8800 ULTIMATE.
    So really friend, just stop the lying. That's all I ask. Quit repeating the trashy and easily disproved ati cleche's.
    Ok ?

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