|by Michael "SKYMTL" Hoenig | January 13, 2010|
A Look at the ATI 5000-series
A Look at the ATI 5000-series
As you can probably tell by the chart above, all of the HD 5000-series fit perfectly into ATIís current lineup. At the top of the heap we have the ultra high performance dual GPU HD 5970 which carries most of the same specifications as a pair of HD 5870s. There are however some sacrifices that had that had to be made in the clock speed department in order to keep power consumption within reasonable levels. So, while this card has the same number of texture units and stream processors as the HD 5870, its core and memory run at speeds identical to the HD 5850.
Judging from paper specifications alone, the HD 5870 is a technological marvel considering it packs all of the rendering potential of ATIís past flagship card and then some while not being saddled by an inefficient dual processor design. The fact that this new card could trump the performance of a HD 4890 just a few months after that cardís release is nothing short of stunning.
The HD 5850 on the other hand looks to be the purebred price / performance leader of the new ATI lineup. Barring slightly lower clock speeds for both the core and memory along with eight disabled texture units (totalling 160 stream processors), it is basically a clone of the HD 5870. This is the card ATI hopes will compete directly with the GTX 285 for the near future and then come into its own when DX11 games make their way into the market. We believe this card will appeal to the majority of early adopters since it allows them to buy class-leading DX9 and DX10 performance now without gambling $400 on unproven DX11 potential.
We can also see that ATI did some careful price cutting prior to launch since even though the HD 4890 looks to offer significantly less performance than a HD 5850, it is actually priced accordingly. As such, this previously high end card will stick around for the next few months in the $200 price bracket but that isnít to say that it will stay there indefinitely...
Meanwhile, we now have the HD 5700-series of code-named Juniper cards as well with the HD 5770 and HD 5750. The HD 5770 1GB is one of the first sub-$200 cards which will come stock with 1GB of memory and along with the GDDR5 memory, comes with some hefty clock speeds as well. However, even though upon first glance the HD 5770 looks like it can compete with the HD 4890, this isnít the case. According to ATI, the 128-bit memory interface will limit this cardís performance so it lies right within its stated price range. We should also mention that ATI wonít be replacing the HD 4890 until at least the first quarter of 2010 even though the HD 5770 is looking to take over from the HD 4850.
The HD 5750 on the other hand is simply a cut down HD 5770 with lower clocks, less SPs and a cut down number of Texture Units. It is this card that ATI sees going head to head with the NVIDIA GTS 250 and 9800 GT. It uses GDDR5 memory but there will be both 512MB and 1GB versions released to cater to the $100 market along with those looking for a little jump in performance.
Now we have the HD 5600 series added into the mix as well which is basically a further cut-down card featuring roughly half the number of SPs seen on the HD 5700 series. These new ďRedwoodĒ products still come equipped with fast GDDR5 memory operating across a 128-bit bus and will be offered in both 512MB and 1GB configurations. This should make the 5600 series perfect competition of NVIDIAís GT 240 cards in their 512MB and 1GB guises. We should also mention that even though ATI's documentation lists "32 ROPs" this is a bit of a misnomer since the Redwood core features 32 Z-Stencil ROP units but only 8 color ROPs.
So there you have it. In the high stakes game of poker that is the GPU industry, ATI has shown its hand. All that is left is for the competition to respond.
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