4 chips in 6 months reaches its end today, with the launch of the final chip in AMD’s Evergreen stack: Cedar. Cedar, the baby of the family, will be powering AMD’s bottom-tier cards. Today we’re seeing the  the first of what we expect will be a couple of Cedar cards with the launch of the Radeon 5450.

  AMD Radeon HD 5670 AMD Radeon HD 4670 AMD Radeon HD 5450 AMD Radeon HD 4550
Stream Processors 400 320 80 80
Texture Units 20 32 8 8
ROPs 8 8 4 4
Core Clock 775MHz 750MHz 650MHz 600MHz
Memory Clock 1000MHz (4000MHz data rate) GDDR5 1000MHz (2000MHz data rate) GDDR3 800MHz (1600MHz data rate) DDR3 800MHz (1600MHz data rate) DDR3
Memory Bus Width 128-bit 128-bit 64-bit 64-bit
Frame Buffer 1GB / 512MB 1GB / 512MB 1GB / 512MB 1GB / 512MB
Transistor Count 627M 514M 292M 242M
TDP 61W 59W 19.1W 25W
Manufacturing Process TSMC 40nm TSMC 55nm TSMC 40nm TSMC 55nm
Price Point $99 / $119 $60-$90 $49-$59 $35-$55

It should come as little-to-no surprise that Cedar and the Radeon 5450 finally deviate from the rule-of-2 that has marked the difference between the other Evergreen family members. Whereas all of the larger Evergreen chips have effectively been ½ of their bigger sibling, Cedar cuts right to the bone. It’s half as many ROPs as the Redwood-powered Radeon 5670, but 40% of the texturing capacity, and a mere 20% of the shader capacity. As has always been the case for video cards, once you drop below $100 you have to start sacrificing a lot of hardware to meet lower price targets, and Cedar is no different.

For throwing all of those functional units out along with GDDR5 capabilities, Cedar comes in at a slender 292M transistors with a die size of 59mm2.  This is a little less than half the transistor count of Redwood while being a little more than half the die size. In this case the limited reduction in transistor count in spite of the significant reduction in shader capabilities is an excellent example in what makes cutting a design down to budget-levels such a tricky proposition. AMD won’t release a die shot of Cedar (or anything else of Evergreen for that matter) but it’s a safe assumption that most of Cedar is occupied by fixed and semi-fixed units such as the PCIe controller, UVD2.2, and AMD’s fixed function rendering pipeline. AMD can’t scale down any of these units like they can shaders, hence shaders had to take the brunt of the cuts to get a sub-300M transistor chip.

Attached to Cedar is a 64bit memory bus, which as we stated before drops GDDR5 memory support. Instead Cedar will be paired with DDR2 and DDR3 – with today’s launch card being a DDR3 variant clocked at 800MHz. This also makes the 5450 the first card to launch with something other than GDDR5, which has otherwise been paired with everything from the 5970 to the 5670.

Compared to the RV710 chip at the core of the Radeon 4350 and 4550, Cedar and the 5450 are virtually identical to those parts. It has the same number of functional units and the same memory interface running at the same speeds, making it the closest thing yet to a 4000-series card with DX11 + Eyefinity functionality. Cedar is even pin-compatible with RV710, so that manufacturers can drop it in to existing Radeon 4350/4550 designs. And just to put things in perspective, in spite of these similarities Cedar is 50M transistors larger than RV710, which means AMD spent most of their gains from moving to the 40nm process on adding Evergreen family features and getting a slightly smaller chip. This also means that it’s a safe bet that we’ll see AMD double-up on functional units for the next die shrink.

One of the advantages of throwing out so much shader hardware and dropping GDDR5 is that the power usage of the card comes down significantly, playing well in to the low-power nature of budget video cards. AMD specs the 5450 at a mere 19.1W TDP, and an idle power usage of 6.4W. This is more than 2/3rds lower than the 5670. Lower clockspeeds also play a part here, as the 5450 is the lowest clocked 5000-series card yet, at a core clock of 650MHz.

It goes without saying that as a budget card AMD is not targeting hardcore gamers with the 5450, instead the target market is a mix of buyers who need their first real GPU on a tight budget. This means pushing the Radeon 5450’s UVD/HTPC capabilities, Eyefinity, GPGPU acceleration, and it’s significantly improved gaming performance over IGP solutions. AMD is making sure to tag the 5450 as a DX11 card too, but as we’ve already established from our 5670 review, cards this slow are too slow to take advantage of any of DX11’s wonder features – the tessellator is probably going to be the only DX11 feature to see any action on cards of this performance level.

AMD is framing the 5450 as competition for NVIDIA’s bottom-tier GeForce, the GeForce 210. From a power and form factor standpoint this is a good matchup, however the 210 uses an even smaller GPU than Cedar along with DDR2 memory, which means there’s certainly a performance difference but also a pricing difference, since NVIDIA should be able to build the 210 for less. Pricing-wise the 5450 is in competition with the DDR2 GeForce GT 220, the Radeon 4550, and the Radeon 4650, all of which can be found for around the same price if not lower in the case of the 4550.

Meet the 5450
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  • Ryan Smith - Thursday, February 4, 2010 - link

    That is one of the things that changed. However it's not very resource intensive for the shaders (which is one of the reasons why it was moved in the first place) and I don't seriously suspect that's the cause.
  • andy o - Thursday, February 4, 2010 - link

    So far all the 5000 series cards have an issue with PowerPlay. It messes audio especially on Dolby digital and DTS tracks, when DXVA is disabled. When DXVA is enabled the clocks are stabilized (at 400 MHz GPU and 900 MHz memory for the 5770), so Powerplay doesn't screw with the audio. Without using DXVA, the clocks are all over the place (PowerPlay enabled, normally a good thing), and this gives audio dropouts with DD and DTS tracks.

    Could you test this, with HD videos and DD/DTS tracks? Maybe you'll have a better chance of getting this fixed than a bunch of us just dealing with their horrible support.

    Powerplay also triggers funky sound when HDMI is used and 5.1 or 7.1 24-bit 96 kHz or 192 kHz output is set on Windows. Just set it like that and go about your business and you'll hear either crackling or crazy channel switching.

    See here for reference, and the following posts of other users who confirm it, and even come up with their own ways to disable Powerplay. This thread at Doom9 was where it was discovered, and later confirmed by nearly everyone who tried (except one strange case or two).
  • Ryan Smith - Saturday, February 6, 2010 - link

    Andy, shoot me an email. I was going to email you, but I'm not sure the address for you in our system actually goes to an account that gets read.
  • andy o - Monday, February 8, 2010 - link

    just sent you the email, thanks.
  • PR3ACH3R - Friday, February 5, 2010 - link

    So far all the 5000 series cards have an issue with PowerPlay. It messes audio especially on Dolby digital and DTS tracks, when DXVA is disabled. When DXVA is enabled the clocks are stabilized (at 400 MHz GPU and 900 MHz memory for the 5770), so Powerplay doesn't screw with the audio. Without using DXVA, the clocks are all over the place (PowerPlay enabled, normally a good thing), and this gives audio dropouts with DD and DTS tracks.

    1. ATI & the Review Sites, including Anandtech,
    have been ignoring this horrible problem in these cards,
    which makes them , for all practical purposes - useless.

    But - It does not stop there.

    2. The problem you have mentioned with The 57xx series,
    creates SERIOUS DPC latencies , especially in XP,
    that brakes even the fastest systems, & All audio is full of glitches & clicks chaos.

    3. To add insult to injury 2D performance is the worst EVER seen on the PC, beaten even By IGPs.

    Bottom Line:
    Anadtech yet again fails to detect & report to these issues,
    So I would not expect any replies to your questions here.

    These cards spell Recall / Class Action all over them.
  • andyo - Friday, February 5, 2010 - link

    Also, I'm not sure what you mean with number 3 (2D performance issues). Could you give some examples so I can test it?
  • PR3ACH3R - Saturday, February 6, 2010 - link

    If You do any sort of regular graphics (ignore the IF..)
    its all 2D ..

    After looking hopelessly for ANY solution or even recognition to this problem from professionals, so I can share it, I found there is only one Site with staff professional & unbiased enough to Note the problem.

    Not only did they notice it, they published 2 giant articles about it, & it is painfully, obviously, certainly NOT Anandtech.


  • andyo - Friday, February 5, 2010 - link

    It is a big issue, but I'm not sure if it's a hardware problem. It's probably a driver thing.

    In any case, you can disable Powerplay for the time being, I've done what I linked above and it's working acceptably for me, when I play a game, I'll switch profiles to enable the higher clocks. I'm not sure how it would work on XP though or if the procedure is the same, but you can also use GPU clock tool to stabilize the clocks.
  • Taft12 - Thursday, February 4, 2010 - link

    I have a hard time seeing AMD giving this much attention, the number of users concerned with this issue is infintesimal.

    Why overclock your GPU when you are focused on the audiophile features? I'll be shocked if the official response is anything other than "Graphics card audio output not supported when Powerplay enabled".
  • andy o - Thursday, February 4, 2010 - link

    Oh and BTW, also as the poster above said, it's not an "audiophile" issue. I actually try to distance myself form that term as much as possible. It's happening whenever DXVA is not enabled, and with DD and DTS audio. As in when playing DVDs with (say) PowerDVD with its post-processing features. Pretty normal scenarios. And it's not a subtle thing. It's dropouts (pops or cut outs in the audio). Also, choppy flash video (shouldn't happen with DXVA accelerated video with flash 10.1 though).

    Powerplay also triggers horrible crackling and channel switching when output is set to multichannel (5.1 or 7.1) 96 kHz or 192 kHz audio for the Windows mixer. Hardly audiophile issues at all, any of these.

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