40nm Supply Redux

If you have seen our Radeon 5800 supply article, then you know that AMD is currently trying to come to terms with a significant shortage of Cypress dice. Since the 5800 series launched in September, TSMC’s yields have taken a hit as the company ramps up 40nm production. And while this is resulting in more usable chips per week than when AMD started, it’s lower than it was supposed to be. Compounding matters is high demand for these cards thanks to their performance, features, and a lack of significant competition from NVIDIA at this time.

So when we were briefed about the 5970, we asked AMD point-blank whether it was a good idea to be launching another Cypress based card so soon, and at a time when they already don’t have enough chips to go around. Their answer was equally straightforward: why not?

The design is done and AMD is already capable of building the 5970. For AMD, there is no benefit in waiting; no matter what they do, anything with a Cypress chip in it today is going to sell out. Holding back may be slightly more egalitarian, but as the 5970 is a luxury part, it’s not a high-volume part anyhow, so its introduction isn’t going to significantly disrupt 5800 shipments even if it does use 2 GPUs per card. Ultimately I don’t think we would even be having this discussion unless the profit margin on the 5970 is higher than the 5870, so at some point this comes down to AMD doing what is most profitable for them.

At $600, AMD isn’t going to sell a ton of 5970s, and the launch numbers reflect this. While the 5800 series cards launched with tens-of-thousands of cards, the 5970 launch will simply be with thousands of cards. Even as a low-volume part, we’re expecting the 5970 to sell out just as fast as any 5800 card did. But depending on what AMD does with future chip shipments though and what TSMC’s yields do, this may be the first product line where demand finally gets met in the near future.

We also had a chance to talk to AMD about the overall 40nm supply situation. AMD of course isn’t very pleased with the situation, but this is something they’ve apparently planned for, after their first 40nm test chips came back as being less impressive than their 55nm and 65nm test chips were. Besides TSMC’s subpar yields, AMD is unable to get as many wafer starts as they’d like, which is compounding the issue.

Finally, we’re told that the TSMC situation is continuing to improve, and that AMD currently expects the Cypress chip supply to pick up in December. To what level of production “pick up” goes with we’re not sure, but it’s likely less than demand. In talking to AMD, they didn’t seem confident in being able to keep any Cypress-based products in stock through Christmas. Supplies will improve through the end of the year, but it sounds like it’s going to be 2010 before supply and demand finally balance out.

Meet The 5970 The Card They Beg You to Overclock


View All Comments

  • kilkennycat - Thursday, November 19, 2009 - link

    Er, have you noticed the "Not in Stock" or "Pre-order" when you have gone to order one. You might get a 5850, but try finding a 5870 without having to psy a jacked-up premium over MSRP. Best of luck. Reply
  • mrdaddyman - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Since the 5870 seems to be in such great supply, I would like for someone to post a link where I can actually buy one of these. I have been trying to buy one for a month and haven't been able to find one. Reply
  • rennya - Thursday, November 19, 2009 - link

    Does it has to be online?

    Here, I have many options for 58xx and 57xx models in retail stores. Which is more applicable for me because Newegg doesn't ship to my place.

    Well, if you insist of finding online links, plenty of them at http://flaturl.com/eb0">http://flaturl.com/eb0 or http://flaturl.com/YmU">http://flaturl.com/YmU or http://flaturl.com/pAU">http://flaturl.com/pAU or http://flaturl.com/q15">http://flaturl.com/q15 or http://flaturl.com/5av">http://flaturl.com/5av and many more.

    These are just some of the sellers in my place who sells those so-called mythical ATI cards online (doesn't include the gazillions others sold in retail). You may want to argue that they won't ship to you in United States, but then again the likes of NewEgg doesn't ship here too.

    If you are desperate enough, I can help you obtain one of those cards. Want to take the offer?
  • Alexstarfire - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    And this is the 5970 that we are talking about. Not the same thing. Reply
  • MamiyaOtaru - Thursday, November 19, 2009 - link

    by saying "another paper launch" you were implying that the previous launches were paper. So you were talking about the 5870. As they are and have been available, they were not paper launches. So even if the 5970 is a paper launch (it isn't) you can't very well call it another one Reply
  • tajmahal - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    No link yet for the 5850 or the 5870? That's a surprise. Reply
  • lloyd dd - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    would using 3 monitors in portrait orientation sort out the aspect ratio in eyefinity? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    It would be closer. 4800x2560 would end up at a 1.875 AR, compared to 1.78 for 16:9 and 1.6 for 16:10. I think that 16:9 content stretched to fill 4800x2560 should look fine (about the same as 16:10 stretched to fill a 16:9 monitor).

    Of course, the more difficult question is how to put three 30" LCDs into portrait mode. You would need a different base stand -- none of the 30" LCDs I've seen allow you to rotate the display into portrait mode, probably because the LCDs are two feet wide.
  • yyrkoon - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Hey Jarred,

    Why not be inventive, and make a stand to hold 3 x 30" LCDs ? I do not mean you specifically of course, but whomever would want to have one. It really is not that difficult . . . just a little planning, and the ability to work with steel ( heavy ) or quality aluminum. Now if someone did not have the skills to make brackets etc, they could even draw something up, give it to a local fabricator, and be on their merry way . . .

    Personally, I like the first option mainly because I enjoy working with materials as such ( metals, wood, plastics, etc ). Not to mention the fact that it can cost far less doing it yourself.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, November 19, 2009 - link

    I understand it's entirely possible. My point is merely that it's yet another expense. I don't think 3x30" with EyeFinity is going to be anything but a very, *VERY* niche product. LOL.

    5970 = $600
    3 x 30" = $3000 (minimum)
    3 x Stands = $120 to $600

    So besides having the money, you need the space (and possibly time). I'd say $4000+ just for the GPU and LCDs is where the costs start, and naturally you would want a killer system (i7-920 with overclocking, or i7-975). But hey, you want the best of the best, there you have it. Until the next big thing comes along.

    Speaking of which, what about 30" LCDs with 120Hz and 3D Vision? LOL.... (No, I'm not saying that's out or coming soon, but it could be.)

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