Ati Radeon HD 5800 Test

Radeon HD 5870: Review of the first DirectX 11 graphics card

DirectX 11, Eyefinity, 2.7 Teraflops - many keywords of AMD's new Radeon HD 5800 graphics card series have been known for weeks. PC Games Hardware checks if the surprisingly daring promises are kept and reveals which features make the Radeon HD 5870 the best card on the market.
Radeon HD 5870: Review of the first DirectX 11 graphics card
Radeon HD 5870: Review of the first DirectX 11 graphics card [Source: view picture gallery]

Have you ever dealt with a big challenge and it worked out faster and better than you have ever imagined? This is what AMD experiences at the moment if you believe in what the company says. The graphics section Ati already presents the first graphics card series which supports Microsoft's new API DirectX 11. So apparently AMD is winning the race for the first DX11 GPU after Nvidia had taken the lead in matters of DirectX 10 with the Geforce 8800 GTX back in 2006. The previous technology level, DirectX 9, was conquered by Ati in 2002 -with a huge advantage in time by the way. But being first is not everything - so what is the Radeon HD 5870 really capable of?

Radeon HD 5870 and HD 5850
Today Ati's Radeon HD 5800 series is launched with two graphics cards: The HD 5870 and the HD 5850. Although the specifications have been leaked to the Internet weeks ago, we nevertheless introduce the final versions again. Both, the Radeon HD 5870 and the smaller HD 5850, are fully compatible to DirectX 11 and have 1 GiByte of GDDR5 VRAM. Furthermore both cards are based on Ati's RV870 (codename "Cypress”), which is produced by TSMC in a 40 nanometer architecture. Although Cypress is only 338 square millimeters big it nevertheless consists of 2.15 billion transistors. For comparison: The RV790 (Radeon HD 4890) has only 959 million transistors. Even Nvidia's GT200(b) with its 1.4 billion circuits is beaten noticeably. With this budget Ati doesn't just implement DirectX 11, but also twice as much calculating units as in the HD 4870/4890.

The difference between the cards that are introduced today is primarily related to the calculation performance: While the HD 5870 has more than 1,600 shader and 80 texture units, the HD 5850 offers 1,440 respectively 72. The HD 5850 has lower clock speeds, too. Instead of 850/2,400 MHz (GPU/VRAM) it is running at 725/2,000 MHz. In theory those cuts limit the HD 5850 by about 20 percent in comparison to the HD 5870. Unfortunately we can't verify this thesis applies to games, too, since we don't have a sample of the HD 5850 yet. All our benchmarks deliver results for the HD 5870 in comparison to the rest of the graphics card market.

Quo vadis, Ati? Radeon HD 5870 X2, HD 5770 & Co.
According to AMD's plans the Radeon HD 5870 X2 is suppose to be released right in time for the Christmas trade. It will utilize two full RV870 chips which are running at the clock speeds of the HD 5850. Early the next year we will see "Juniper” and "Cedar” which bring DirectX 11 to the mainstream segment.

* Single values don't necessarily doubled with a multi GPU setup.
** Value represent sum of both Write-Clocks of GDDR5
*** 8-Pin connector required

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Author: Raffael Vötter (Sep 23, 2009)

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