updated 12:00 am EDT, Wed September 23, 2009
ATI Radeon HD 5800 official
AMD's graphics label ATI tonight claimed to set a new benchmark for graphics with the Radeon HD 5800 series. The new video hardware is theoretically twice as fast as the 4870 and has an extremely large set of 1,600 stream (visual effect) cores -- enough to calculate 2.72 teraflops per second. Besides handling twice as many rendering tasks at once, the 5800 is also running a sixth-generation engine that shades and tessellates geometry more quickly, more GDDR5 memory bandwidth (150Gbps), and much improved techniques for antialiasing and anisotropic texture filtering.
ATI specifically touts a much higher performance in antialiasing versus NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 285 and claims that 3D games run at over 80 percent of the speed of the less demanding 4X mode where NVIDIA's current card often drops off more sharply. General performance is often at least 20 percent faster and in extreme cases up to 260 percent faster.
The technology is equally new in features. It's the first to support the upcoming DirectX 11 standard and will support its new set of programmable effects and geometry, such as improved shadowing and tesselation, as well as DirectCompute, Microsoft's format for general-purpose computing acceleration using video chipsets and similar massively parallel hardware. Accordingly, the new Radeon line will also see many of the added visual features in OpenGL and will be the first to support the Apple-originated OpenCL standard for the same effect.
All the initial cards will support Eyefinity, a technique that merges multiple monitors into single virtual displays on one video card. Up to six display pipelines can, using DisplayPort, create either a single very large display -- currently up to 7680x3200 -- or combinations of smaller arrangements. Smaller configurations can also mix and match DVI, HDMI and VGA.
Peak power use is higher but is balanced by much lower power when the chipset is idle.
Two chipsets start the lineup, both of which are aimed at higher-end gamers. The Radeon HD 5870 has the full feature set with 1,600 cores, an 850MHz engine clock, and 1GB of 1.2GHz video memory; it should cost $380 as a video card upgrade. The Radeon HD 5850 scales back to 1,440 cores, a 725MHz clock speed and 1GB of memory at 1GHz in return for a $260 price point. An eventual Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity6 Edition will incorporate six Mini DisplayPort connectors for an unknown price.
With the exception of the Eyefinity6, both the 5870 and 5850 should be available today through third parties and will also find their way into pre-assembled computers.