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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  • Zool - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    So yes. The answer is that the gpu is doing less work with vsync than without it.(dam still no edit button) Reply
  • Yojimbo - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    The plural for a casting/shaping instrument "die" is "dies" not "dice." Reply
  • Lennie - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    I am going to post this again here. Thought it may not get noticed since I posted it first as a reply in previous pages. Hope I wont hurt anyones feelings :)

    I thought everyone knew about Furmark and ATi by now. It used to be like this on 4870 series too.

    It went like this, at first there were few reports of 4870(X2) cards dying when running Furmak. Further investigation showed that it was indeed Furmark causing VRM's to heat up to insane levels and eventually killing them. Word reached ATi from that point on ATi intentionally throttles their card when detecting Furmark to prevent the damage.

    Yeah in fact the amount of heat load Furmak puts on VRMs is unrealistic and no game is able to heat up the VRMs to the level Furmark does. OCCT used the same method (or maybe even integrated Furmark) to test for stability (in their own opinion ofc)

    So beware about Furmark and OCCT if you have HD4K or 5K.

    The term "Hardware Virus" is rightfully applicable to Furmark when it comes to HD4K (and 5K perhaps)
    Reply
  • Lennie - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    I want to add that VRM overheating is quite tricky, since normally people only check on GPU temps.

    When you run Furmark you would notice that GPU temps are in acceptable range while at the same time your VRM's are cooking without you knowing about it.

    So remember to always check your VRM temps when running graphics stability tests like Furmark or OCCT's graphics test specially when you're overclocking the card.

    I use Riva or Everest to check on VRM temps.
    Reply
  • Rajinder Gill - Thursday, November 19, 2009 - link

    The temp reading that is displayed by Everest is an averaged figure. The junction temp of the slaves is the critical issue. Even though the average temp may appear to be within bounds, there is the possibility that one of the slaves may be running abnormally. Volterra keep their specifications under NDA. What I do know is that the general configuration if one slave shuts down is that the remaining slaves take the load. The result is not usually pretty. I think ATI may have implemented throttling to prevent the kind of burnouts users experienced running OCCT GPU tests on the last gen.

    Personally, I think the 3 phase Volterra solution used on the 5970's is right on the hilt for current draw (circa 135 amps per GPU). I'd wait for non reference solutions with enhanced power delivery if you plan on overclocking this card long term or plan to stress it heavily when OC'd).

    Later
    Raja

    Reply
  • Rajinder Gill - Thursday, November 19, 2009 - link

    I should add that I'm assuming ATI used the biggest Volterra slaves rated at 45 amps each and not the 35/40 amp varieties. Reply
  • thebeastie - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Any one that has a clue is buying a proper case like the Storm Sniper Black Edition and fitting this with heaps of space to spare.
    Also I recommend a case with positive or at least neutral are flow.
    The storm sniper has a dust filter on its 20cm side fan to push more air in and aid in the GPU fans air flow that will go out the back of the cards vent holes at the DVI ports.
    Reply
  • at80eighty - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Plan on getting one of these in another 7-8 months - The way I see it, despite being bleeding edge - ATI has a deadlock winner in this card and will produce only limited quantities so I'm kind of 'worried' about the availability & price down the line Reply
  • Silverforce11 - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Wait til the end of December. Apparently the yeilds of cyrpress are going to be improved a lot then, so the prices will either remain the same or be lower a bit.

    However, since nV has nothing real for a long time, i dont foresee a drop in prices on ATI parts. Given the estimates, NV will have fermi out in april 2010, but not in significant quantities for a while after that. Im gonna grab a 5970 around xmas. :)
    Reply
  • at80eighty - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Dude I hate you already :p I just bought a 5750 - I dont have the necessary components that would not bottleneck the 5970, so I'm going to have to wait a while. plus the whole 3 new monitors thing for the Eyefinity Reply

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