40nm Supply Redux

If you have seen our Radeon 5800 supply article, then you know that AMD is currently trying to come to terms with a significant shortage of Cypress dice. Since the 5800 series launched in September, TSMC’s yields have taken a hit as the company ramps up 40nm production. And while this is resulting in more usable chips per week than when AMD started, it’s lower than it was supposed to be. Compounding matters is high demand for these cards thanks to their performance, features, and a lack of significant competition from NVIDIA at this time.

So when we were briefed about the 5970, we asked AMD point-blank whether it was a good idea to be launching another Cypress based card so soon, and at a time when they already don’t have enough chips to go around. Their answer was equally straightforward: why not?

The design is done and AMD is already capable of building the 5970. For AMD, there is no benefit in waiting; no matter what they do, anything with a Cypress chip in it today is going to sell out. Holding back may be slightly more egalitarian, but as the 5970 is a luxury part, it’s not a high-volume part anyhow, so its introduction isn’t going to significantly disrupt 5800 shipments even if it does use 2 GPUs per card. Ultimately I don’t think we would even be having this discussion unless the profit margin on the 5970 is higher than the 5870, so at some point this comes down to AMD doing what is most profitable for them.

At $600, AMD isn’t going to sell a ton of 5970s, and the launch numbers reflect this. While the 5800 series cards launched with tens-of-thousands of cards, the 5970 launch will simply be with thousands of cards. Even as a low-volume part, we’re expecting the 5970 to sell out just as fast as any 5800 card did. But depending on what AMD does with future chip shipments though and what TSMC’s yields do, this may be the first product line where demand finally gets met in the near future.

We also had a chance to talk to AMD about the overall 40nm supply situation. AMD of course isn’t very pleased with the situation, but this is something they’ve apparently planned for, after their first 40nm test chips came back as being less impressive than their 55nm and 65nm test chips were. Besides TSMC’s subpar yields, AMD is unable to get as many wafer starts as they’d like, which is compounding the issue.

Finally, we’re told that the TSMC situation is continuing to improve, and that AMD currently expects the Cypress chip supply to pick up in December. To what level of production “pick up” goes with we’re not sure, but it’s likely less than demand. In talking to AMD, they didn’t seem confident in being able to keep any Cypress-based products in stock through Christmas. Supplies will improve through the end of the year, but it sounds like it’s going to be 2010 before supply and demand finally balance out.

Meet The 5970 The Card They Beg You to Overclock
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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 Distributed.net 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    http://anandtech.com/casecoolingpsus/showdoc.aspx?...">http://anandtech.com/casecoolingpsus/showdoc.aspx?...
    And had issues with the 4870x2. Got a better "single rail" PSU and it ran fine n OC well.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.) Reply
  • 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? Reply
  • 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. Reply
  • NullSubroutine - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

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

    http://www.guru3d.com/article/radeon-hd-5970-revie...">http://www.guru3d.com/article/radeon-hd-5970-revie...

    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?
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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)
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 - link

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

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