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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  • prophet001 - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    This looks like a sweet card. Certainly ATI is taking control of the market.

    One question though...

    What happened to the Hydra by Lucid Logix? I haven't heard anything about it in a while. Theoretically, the Hydra should take 2 ATI cards and make them perform better than Crossfire can.

    Any news?
    Reply
  • tamalero - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    there as been reviews of HYDRA already, what planet are you on?
    Reply
  • GeorgeH - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    1) No need to be a douche.

    2) No Hydra 200 products have shipped, all current "reviews" have been done using Lucid's development hardware.

    3) It appears that Hydra will not work well with dual GPU cards; it will see only one of the GPUs.

    4) Early results show that Hydra offers roughly equal performance overall to Crossfire/SLI.

    5) Link to one of the better articles I've read:
    http://www.pcper.com/article.php?aid=815">http://www.pcper.com/article.php?aid=815
    Reply
  • driver01z - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Wow - so we have a card now that plays the latest Crysis at 2560*1600, 4XAA with details at a smooth playable FPS. IMHO I believe we've entered a new GPU generation. Or new compared to the capabilities I'm used to. Reply
  • rcpratt - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Is there some way to set up a dual-monitor setup (2 x 1920x1080) to run in horizontal span mode (3840 x 1080), like you do with your three monitors, without an Eyefinity card? I'm currently running with a 4870 and haven't been able to find a way to do this. Reply
  • The0ne - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    I haven't tried but you should be able to do this easily, using catalyst. There's an option there to flip your screens for horizontal/vertical views and duplicate/extend your screens. That should do it for you.

    I haven't use the flip feature but I use the extend all the time because I'm hooked up to my tv.
    Reply
  • rcpratt - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    I've spent hours trying to find a way to do it with Catalyst, and I can't find one. Right now it's on extend, which just leaves the secondary monitor as the desktop, with no taskbar on the bottom, and leaves me unable to play games at 3840x1080.

    If anybody has an explanation or idea, I'd appreciate it.
    Reply
  • Spoelie - Thursday, November 19, 2009 - link

    To put it simple, no it's not supported. The only way you'll be able to use the second screen is with games that are explicitly coded to support dual screens (Supreme Commander?).

    Your only other option is to use a Matrox multimon device (forgot the name) or an EyeFinity card of course. No NVIDIA card will allow this either, it's not a driver issue.

    Either way, 2 screens wouldn't be a nice experience anyway, with the big bezel right in the middle, I can't imagine any type of game where that would work (no FPS, RTS, RPG, racing game, ...)
    Reply
  • rcpratt - Thursday, November 19, 2009 - link

    That's what I was afraid of. Thanks. And yeah, I wasn't planning on playing with 2 monitors, but I was considering getting a third. Oh well, probably better that I can't blow the cash :) Reply
  • The0ne - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    On the same topic, does anyone know why my dual screen setup resets after PC restarts/shutdowns? In addition, I HAVE to select duplicate first, set it and then switch to extend. Selecting extend first doesn't enable it. Using current driver but this was there with previous versions as well.

    I've Googled and read many forums but haven't encountered many users having this particular issue. This is consistent in XP, Vista and Win7 as far as I can remember.

    4870 with Dell 30" and Samsumg 73" 1080P TV. Temperatures around 56C for video card. If you have any tips I appreciate them. Thanks in advance.
    Reply

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