The Radeon HD 5970: Completing AMD's Takeover of the High End GPU Marketby Ryan Smith on November 18, 2009 12:00 AM EST
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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
|1GHz (4GHz data rate) GDDR5
|1.2GHz (4.8GHz data rate) GDDR5
|1GHz (4GHz data rate) GDDR5
|Memory Bus Width
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.