The catch however is that what we don’t have is a level of clear domination when it comes to single-card solutions. AMD was shooting to beat the GTX 295 with the 5870, but in our benchmarks that’s not happening. The 295 and the 5870 are close, perhaps close enough that NVIDIA will need to reconsider their position, but it’s not enough to outright dethrone the GTX 295. NVIDIA still has the faster single-card solution, although the $100 price premium is well in excess of the <10% performance premium.

-From Our Radeon 5870 Review, On The GTX 295 vs. The 5870

Let’s get straight to the point, shall we? Today AMD is launching the 5970, their dual-GPU card that finishes building out AMD’s technical domination of the high-end market. With it AMD delivers the absolute victory over NVIDIA’s GTX 295 that the Radeon 5870 couldn’t quite achieve and at the same time sets the new high water mark for single-card performance.

This also marks the last AMD product introduction of the year. The rest of the Evergreen series, composing the sub-$100 low-end parts, will be launching next year.

  AMD Radeon HD 5970 AMD Radeon HD 5870 AMD Radeon HD 5850
Stream Processors 2x1600 1600 1440
Texture Units 2x80 80 72
ROPs 2x32 32 32
Core Clock 725MHz 850MHz 725MHz
Memory Clock 1GHz (4GHz data rate) GDDR5 1.2GHz (4.8GHz data rate) GDDR5 1GHz (4GHz data rate) GDDR5
Memory Bus Width 2x256-bit 256-bit 256-bit
Frame Buffer 2x1GB 1GB 1GB
Transistor Count 2x2.15B 2.15B 2.15B
TDP 294W 188W 151W
Manufacturing Process TSMC 40nm TSMC 40nm TSMC 40nm
Price Point $599 $400 $300

The 5970 serves as the nowadays obligatory dual-GPU part. It is 2 Cypress dice mounted on a single, dual-slot video card. AMD clocks it at 725MHz core and 1GHz (4GHz effective) for the GDDR5 memory. The card comes equipped with 2GB of GDDR5, which is split between the two GPUs, giving it an effective memory capacity of 1GB. The card will be selling for $600, at least so long as vendors and retailers hold the line on MSRP.

In practice this makes the card something between a 5850 in Crossfire mode and a 5870 in Crossfire mode. The clocks are the same as the 5850, but here all 20 SIMD units are enabled. This is a 15% clockspeed difference between the 5970 and 5870CF, so officially the 5870CF will continue to be the faster setup. However as we’ll see in a bit, looking at the stock 5970 can be a bit deceiving.

This also brings up the matter of the name of the card. We asked AMD what happened to the X2 tag, and the answer is that they didn’t want to use it since the card was configured neither like a 5850 nor a 5870 – it was closer to a mythical 5860. So rather than call it an odd (or worse yet, wrong) name, AMD just gave it a new model number entirely. We suspect AMD wanted to be rid of the X2 name – their processors go up to X4 after all – but there you go as far as an official reason is concerned. It looks like special multi-GPU tags are now gone in both the NVIDIA and AMD camps.

Moving on, for power, the 5970 uses an 8pin and a 6pin power connector (although the 6pin sits on top of a spot silk-screened for anther 8pin). The TDP is 294W, bringing it in just under the 300W ATX limit. Idle power is 42W, thanks to AMD’s aggressive power optimizations present in the entire 5000 series.

As some of you may have noticed, in spite of the fact that this card is at least a pair of 5850s, it consumes less than the 320W (2x160W) such a setup would. In order to meet the 300W limit, AMD went and binned Cypress chips specifically for the 5970, in order to find chips that could operate at 725MHz at only 1.05v (the 5850 runs at 1.088v). Given the power creep coming from the 4800 series, binning for the best chips is the only way AMD could get a 300W card out.

AMD’s official guidance for this card is that the minimum requirements are a 650W power supply, and they recommend a 750W power supply. The recommended power supply will become more important later on when we talk about overclocking.

Finally, AMD is also launching Crossfire Eyefinity support with the 5970, and thus far only the 5970. Currently Eyefinity doesn’t work with Crossfire mode on any of AMDs cards due to driver limitations. The drivers that the 5970 will be shipping with enable Crossfire Eyefinity support on the 5970 for 22 games – currently AMD is using whitelisting and is enabling games on a case-by-case basis. Crossfire Eyefinity will make its way in to the mainstream Catalyst drivers and be enabled for other cards early next year.

Meet The 5970
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  • Lennie - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    If so, then one could suspect it's the same issue with games due to VRMs of this particular card getting heated up and throttling the card. Perhaps not enough contact between VRM and HSF or a complete lack of TIM on VRM by accident. I would have reseated the HSF if I owned that card.
  • Rajinder Gill - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    I suspect it is VRM/heat related. The 'biggest' slaves Volterra currently supply are rated at 45 amps each afaik. Assuming ATI used the 45 amp slaves (which they must have), you've got around 135 amps on tap. Do the math for OCP or any related throttling effects kicking in. Essentially, 1.10VGPU puts you at 150w per GPU before things either shut down or need to be throttled (depends on how it's implemented as it nears peak). Any which way you look at it, ATI have used a high end VRM solution, but 4 slaves per GPU would have given a bit more leeway on some cards. I wonder what the variance is in terms of leakage from card to card as well. Seeing as there's not much current overhead in the VRM (or at least there does not appear to be), a small change in leakage would be enough to stop some cards from doing too much in terms of overclocking on the stock cooler.

  • Silverforce11 - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    It could be your PSU, some "single rail" PSU arent in fact using a single rail but several rails with a max limit on AMPs. Its deceptive.

    Guru3D uses 1200W PSU and manages 900 core, which is typically what a 5870 OC to on air. Essentially the chips are higher quality cypress, maybe you should retry it again with a different PSU then conclusions can be drawn.
  • Bolas - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Yep, there is certainly a market for 5970CF. Can't wait!
  • tajmahal - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Big deal, another paper launch where only a tiny handful of people will be able to get one.
  • LedHed - Tuesday, November 24, 2009 - link

    My question is why do the OC the 5970 but not the 295...

    We all know the 295 is memory bottlenecked at resolutions at/over 2560x1600

    But considering the GTX 295 is down below $450 and no one can find these cards in stock with a god awful price of $600 ($100 more than 295 at launch).
  • mschira - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    newegg list 5 different models, they come and go quite fast.
    I managed to get one of them in my shopping card.
    All it would need now is pay. (which I don't want to...).
    So yea they are not exactly easy to get, but far from impossible.
    So not a paper launch.
    Be real, it's day two after the launch, and you CAN get them. That's not bad at all.
  • MrPickins - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    At the moment, Newegg shows two different 5970's in stock. A HIS and a Powercolor.
  • tajmahal - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Listed, but not available. I guess newegg sold both of the ones they had available, and the 5850 and 5870 ?......... not available either.
  • Silverforce11 - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Plenty of 5870s around at retails and etailers, what do you mean by "another paper launch"?

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