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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  • palladium - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Since AMD is binning their chips to get the 5970 within spec, I suppose it wouldn't make sense to make a 5950 SKU since a 5850 is simply a re-harvested 5870 (which failed the initial binning process), and 2x5850 would be out of the ATX spec anyway.

    Anyway, a great card for those who can afford it, and have the proper case and PSU to handle it.
    Reply
  • Paladin1211 - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    With 512 SP, 6.67% more than a GTX 295, I dont see Fermi has any chance of beating the 5970. nVidia will need a dual Fermi to dethrone the 5970, and thats not happening until Q3 or Q4 2010.

    nVidia has targeted a wrong, niche market rather than gamers. Sooner or later monitors without bezel will come out, and Eyefinity makes much more sense. Its really funny that the R770s aka HD 4870s are in 1 out of 5 fastest supercomputers and not Tesla.

    They have taken a long, deep sleep after the 8800GTX and now they're paying for it.
    Reply
  • cmdrdredd - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Unfortunately, PC gaming is almost dead. Look at Call of Duty's release. Look at Dragon Age which is also available on consoles. Sure the PC version might look a bit better, but when you spend as much on a video card as someone does on an entire system that can download movies, demos, act as a media box, and play Blu-Rays...you get the point. Reply
  • Lurker0 - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Unfortunately, PC gaming has been declared "nearly dead" for decades. It hasn't died, and as much as console fanboys will rage on hearing this, it isn't going to either.

    PC gaming is a niche industry, it always has been and always will be. Yes, console games do tend to be more profitable, which means that most games will be developed for consoles first and then ported to the PC. Doesn't mean there will never be games developed for the PC first(or even exclusivly), or that there's no profit to be had in PC games.

    Yes, it can be cheaper to get a console than a mid-level gaming PC, just like it can be cheaper to just buy some econobox off the lot than to buy or build your own hot rod. Sure, one market is much larger and more profitable than the other, but there's still money to be made off of PC games and gearheads alike, and so long as that's true neither will be going away.
    Reply
  • DominionSeraph - Thursday, November 19, 2009 - link

    PC gaming is no longer an isolated economy, though. That changes things. With most games being written with consoles in mind, there isn't the broad-based software push for hardware advance that there was at the dawn of 3d acceleration.
    I could give you dozens of great reasons to have upgraded from a NV4 to a NV15 back in the day, but the upgrade from a G80 to 5970 today? ~$800 when you factor in the PSU, and for what? Where's the must-have game that needs it? TNT to Geforce 2 was two years -- it's now been 3 since the release of the 8800, and there's been no equivalent to a Half Life, Quake 2, Deus Ex, Homeworld, Warcraft III, or WoW.
    Reply
  • GourdFreeMan - Thursday, November 19, 2009 - link

    Unfortunately, this is precisely the problem. When looking at AAA (large budget) games, six years ago PC game sales were predominantly PC exclusives, with some well known console ports (e.g. Halo, Morrowind). Twelve years ago PC game sales were almost entirely exclusives. Today the console ports are approaching the majority of high profile PC titles.

    Being multiplatform isn't necessarily a detriment for a console game. After all, having a larger budget allows more money to be spent on art and polishing the code to get the best performance on console hardware. In most cases, however, the PC version of a multiplatform title is almost always an afterthought. Little to no effort is spent redesigning the user interface and rebalancing game play because of the different controls. Shaders are almost never rewritten to take advantage of effects that could only be accomplished with the power of the graphic cards in modern PCs when porting. At most we seem to get better textures at somewhat higher resolutions.

    The biggest problem with multiplatform development, however, is that multiplatform games are almost always aimed at the lowest common denominator in terms of both technology and content. All this does is produce the same game over and over again -- the clichéd rail shooter in a narrow environment with a macho/reluctant superhuman protagonist thrown against hordes of respawning mooks.

    Based on the quarterly reports of sales revenue from the major publishers (EA, Activision and Ubisoft), PC games sales are comparable to PS3 game sales. The PS3, however, has several more exclusives because Sony owns several games studios and forces them to release exclusives. AMD and nVIDIA do not, much to PC gaming's detriment.
    Reply
  • mschira - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Hehe 5970CF to power three screens, now that sounds like a killer setup.
    Besides that one's burning 600+ watts for the graphic. What's the CPU supposed to live on? The BIOS-Battery?
    M.
    Reply
  • monomer - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Wouldn't it be possible to run six screens using a 5970 CF setup, or are there other limitations I'm unaware of? Reply
  • Fleeb - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    600W for the whole setup. :S Reply
  • maximusursus - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    It really seems weird...:( I've seen some reviews that had way better overclocking than the standard 5870 clocks and their tests seem to be ok without any "throttling" problems.

    For example:

    Techspot: 900/1250
    HotHardware: 860/1220
    Tom's Hardware: 900/1300
    HardOCP: 900/1350 (!)
    Guru3D: 900/1200

    HardwareZone however had a similar problem with you guys, could it really be the PSU?
    Reply

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