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XFX Radeon HD 5870 - Cypress lands in our lab

by on24 September 2009



Review: The fastest single-GPU on the block

We’re proud to present the long-awaited, world's first DirectX 11 graphics card – Radeon HD 5870. Better known as Cypress, the Radeon HD 5870 is currently the fastest single-GPU card, and it instantly dethroned its single-GPU competition. Our today’s sample is courtesy of XFX, and the card’s full name is XFX ATI Radeon HD 5870 1GB. 

The HD 5870 packs a whole lotta speed, but the card brings many other benefits such as DX11 and the accompanying technologies – hardware tessellation, shader 5.0 extensions, multi-threading, DirectCompute and OpenCL which for ATI opens the doors of stream computing, etc. If you’ve been following the card’s announcement then the Eyefinity technology probably caught your eye, and this technology (depending on the partners’ choice of outs) allows for up to six monitors on one card. If you own a flight school or simply are planning to treat yourself to some serious multi-display goodness, you can buy yourself four Cypress cards for up to 24 monitors that will allow for a so far consumer-unprecedented multi-display configuration.

So, Cypress is a high-end DirectX 11 single-GPU graphics card, but as we've come to expect from graphics companies, dual-GPU versions of the HD 5870 codenamed Hemlock or HD 5870 X2 will follow. Although Radeon HD 5850 launched as well, more samples of this slightly slower DX11 card will be available in about one week.All the following DX11 card are in Evergreen family of products, and the codenames are as follows: Cedar, Redwood, Juniper, Cypress and Hemlock (ordered from the bottom to the top).

ATI’s HD 5870 1GB version comes with GDDR5 memory, DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort, and is priced at around $399 or €320 (VAT incl.) in EU. The 2GB version of Cypress and Eyefinity version will end up pricier, but they’re definitely good deals compared to Nvidia’s GT200 or Radeon 48x0 cards.

Juniper cards are expected in this quarter and should be priced below $199 whereas Cedar and Redwood, which should be out by the end of 2009, should bring DX11 support to the sub-$100 segment. The only problem for AMD is the fact that there are no DirectX 11 games on the market currently, which would’ve boosted Evergreen sales significantly. Of course, you’ll find many musle-hungry DX9, DX10 and DX10.1 titles that can put Cypress to good use, but investing a reasonable amount of cash for a bright DX11 future isn’t a bad deal at all.

A glance at the specifications reveals that the new graphics chip is almost twice the chip its predecessor was. The shaders got a boost from 800 (HD4890) to 1600 (HD 5870) thanks to a significant number of added transistors. The Cypress GPU features complex architecture with 2.15 billion transistors, whereas the HD 4890 has 959 million. Despite the improvements, the die on the new card measures 338mm, which isn't much larger than the 282mm old one. In order to cram so many transistors in such small space AMD transitioned from 55nm to 40nm. Let us remind you that AMD was first to deliver 40nm products by announcing the HD 4870 from the HD 4700 series.

The HD 5870 features 32 ROP units, double the amount found on the HD 4870. Texture units have been doubled as well and the HD 5870 features 80, and the computing power jumped from 1.2 TFLOPs to 2.72 TFLOPs as well.

AMD however didn’t only focus its efforts towards doubling the performance, but paid attention to power consumption as well, so the new card doesn’t consume much more than its predecessor. The HD 5870’s maximum consumption is 188W, whereas the HD 4870 consumed up to 160W. AMD finally addressed the idle consumption, and the company claims that HD 5870 requires only 27W.

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Last modified on 25 September 2009
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