updated 10:00 am EST, Thu November 8, 2007
AMD FireStream 9170
AMD today became the first company to launch a video card specifically tailored to users who need to process both graphics and hard data from the same system. The FireStream 9170 (not yet pictured) uses an enhanced version of ATI's stream computing technique to process general calculations with the unused shader units on the card, potentially accelerating work well past what would be possible with one or more extra CPUs; up to 500 gigaflops are possible with the very first model's 320 shaders running at 775MHz, according to AMD's estimates. The new model also rivals NVIDIA's Quadro FX cards in its ability to handle double-precision floating point math, ensuring that very accurate calculations can be done without turning to the CPU.
This initial entry into the FireStream series is based on the 55-nanometer technology that will form the basis of the home-oriented Radeon HD 3800 and uses the smaller manufacturing process to cut down on power. At full speed, the card consumes less than 150W of power, AMD says. The standard card will cost $1,999 with 2GB of memory and a core clock speed of 800MHz, putting its clock rates in line with the upcoming Radeon boards.