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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  • Ryan Smith - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    It's possible, but the 850TX is a very well regarded unit. If it can't run a 5970 overclocked, then I surmise that a lot of buyers are going to run in to the same problem. I don't have another comparable power supply on hand, so this isn't something I can test with my card.

    Anand has a 1K unit, and of course you know how his turned out.

    To be frank, we likely would have never noticed the throttling issue if it wasn't for the client. It's only after realizing that it was underperforming by about 10-20% that I decided to watch the Overdrive pane and saw it bouncing around. These guys could be throttling too, and just not realize it.
  • Silverforce11 - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Seems iffy then since most reviews put it at 900 core and 5ghz + on the ram, with only a modest overvolt to 1.16. I would think ATI wouldnt bother putting in 3 high quality VRM and japanese capacitors if they didnt test it thoroughly at the specs they wanted it to OC at.

    My old PSU is the bigger bro of this guy being the 750 ver.">
    And had issues with the 4870x2. Got a better "single rail" PSU and it ran fine n OC well.
  • Silverforce11 - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    ATI went all out with building these 5970, the components are top notch. The chips are the best of the bunch. I'm surprised they did this, as they are essentially selling you 2x 5870 performance (IF your PSU is good) at $599 when 2x 5870 CF would cost $800. They have no competitor in the top, why do they not price this card higher or why even bother putting in quality parts to almost guarantee 5870 clocks?

    I believe its ATI's last nail on the nV coffin and they hammered it really hard.
  • ET - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Too much discussion about adapters for the mini-displayport. The 27" iMac has such an input port and a resolution of 2560 x 1440, and it seems a sin to not test them together. (Not that I'm blaming Anandtech or anything, since I'm sure it's not that easy to get the iMac for testing.)
  • Taft12 - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Why would they bother using a computer with attached monitor and instead use the larger, higher-res and CHEAPER Dell 3008WFP?
  • Raqia - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Look at all the finger print smudges on the nice card! I've started to notice the hand models that corporations use to hold their products. The hands holding the ipods on the apple site? Flawless, perfect nails and cuticles. Same w/ the fingers grasping the Magny Cours chip.
  • NullSubroutine - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Hilbert @ Guru3d got the overclocking working with 900Mhz core speed (though it reached 90c).">

    I was impressed with some of the crossfire benchmarks actually showing improvement. If Eyeinfinity works with 5970 does it work with the card in crossfire?
  • Ryan Smith - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    Bear in mind that it also took him 1.3v to get there; the AMD tool doesn't go that high. With my card, I strongly suspect the issue is the VRMs, so more voltage wouldn't help.

    And I'm still trying to get an answer to the Eyefinity + 5970CF question. The boys and girls at AMD went home for the night before we realized we didn't have an answer to that.
  • Lennie - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    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)
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

    The article stated that they encountered throttling in real games, not Furmark.

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