It’s not all that much to go on--a PowerPoint slide purported to have been disgorged from the bowels of Intel, but with actual provenance unknown. It does, however, offer the possibility of interesting speculation on the direction that Intel might be taking in its quest to cobble on a graphics processor to its CPUs, in its effort to compete with ATi and Nvidia.
The slide originates at donanimhaber.com (which Google says is in Turkish, so good luck with it--even translated it doesn’t make sense). Matthew Humphries, at Geek.com, offers his take: Intel is going to focus on middle- to low-end gaming environments in building an integrated graphics processor (IGP), and leave the high end alone.
What’s Intel aiming for? According to the slide, their IGP will be targeted at games such as World of Warcraft, Battlefield Heroes, The Sims 2, Peggle, Bejeweled, and Diner Dash. Each level targeted constitutes either “a broad user community” or the “fastest growing PC games segment”. Roughly translated: the places where numbers favor Intel’s venture being successful.
Whether this represents Intel’s thinking on its HD Graphics project we may soon know. Humphries expects the slide to make an appearance, if it’s legitimate, at CES in January.
AMD the other day announced the availability of its ATI Catalyst Software Suite 9.12, though there doesn't appear to be a whole lot that's new in the updated driver package.
Catalyst 9.12 brings full support for DirectCompute 10.1 for the Radeon HD 4800 and 4700 series in both single card and CrossFireX configurations. The new driver package also ushers in OpenGL 3.2 extension support for the Radeon HD 5800 series and on down to the 2000 series.
Other than that, there's a couple of performance boosts, including up to a 9 percent gain in 3DMark Vantage benchmarking, and as much as a 6 percent gain in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Call of Pripyat in single card configurations.
Catalyst 9.12 resolves several niggling issues in Windows 7, including fixing a corruption issues with some DX9 apps when AA 8X is enabled, and playing back Blu-ray content on some systems with a 120Hz display no longer results in a black screen.
ATI on Tuesday released its Catalyst software suite, version 9.11, for Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7. The latest release appears to put a heavy focus on squashing bugs as opposed to injecting performance enhancements to specific gaming titles.
New features include GPU acceleration of H.264 video content using Adobe Flash Player 10.1 beta, and high quality downscaling for video transcoding MSE. Everything else in the release notes is geared towards resolving issues for various OSes. Some of these include:
Users can now enable and disable CrossFire when three displays are configured in extended mode (all OSes)
Catalyst Control Center no longer stops responding when setting Eyefinity SLS mode for extended HDMI display (all OSes)
Resolved an issue where high bit rate audio from Blu-ray discs might not output when using PowerDVD 10 (Windows 7)
Wolfenstein no longer stops responding when running a 2560x1600 resolution (Windows 7)
No more green lines at the bottom of the screen when playing some interlaced content (Vista)
PowerDVD no longer intermittently terminates when playing HD MPEG2 content in extended/clone mode (Vista)
Transcoding of AC3 files no longer shows corruption in transcoded files (XP)
There are plenty of other bug fixes, as well as some lingering known issues, all of which you can view in the release notes here (PDF).
You can forgive AMD for stealing a line from Nvidia’s playbook. From the name and marketing materials, it’s not obvious that this card is a dual GPU card. One AMD chart even refers to the card as the “ATI Radeon HD 5970 GPU,” much like Nvidia’s 295 GTX is a dual GPU card that’s sold as if it were a normal graphics card.
We first take a quick look at the speeds and feeds of the new card, and then discuss additional features. We’ll compare them to the Radeon HD 5870 single GPU card; there are differences in core and memory clock speeds. Then, we jump into the benchmarks, comparing the Radeon HD 5970 to four other videocards in high-resolution gaming.
And if those numbers don't impress you, wait until you see how this beast performs in Crossfire for a total of four GPUs.
AMD’s recent release of its RV870 GPU line makes the company the undisputed graphics performance leader. The Radeon HD 5870 is the fastest single-GPU graphics card on the market currently. But at roughly $380, it’s not inexpensive, so AMD has also rolled out the Radeon HD 5850, 5770, and 5750 cards. All are DirectX 11–capable, at lower price points than the flagship HD 5870.
The HD 5850 uses the same RV870 GPU as the 5870, but with a couple of functional units disabled. Priced at around $260, the 5850 occupies the lower tier of the high-end cards. The recently released 5770/5750 cards use a different chip. Based on the same DirectX 11 architecture as their big brothers, the 5770/5750 are built with 1.04 billion transistors—just slightly more than the 956 million used in the previous-generation Radeon HD 4870/4890 products. Contrast these numbers with the 2.15 billion transistors in the Radeon HD 5870. Current prices for 5770s are roughly the same as older 4870s, around $150–$160. So the 5770 is firmly positioned as a midrange graphics card.
We put eight cards to the test, from six companies: three Radeon HD 5870s, three HD 5850s, one HD 5770, and a factory-overclocked Nvidia GTX 260 from Gigabyte, our token Nvidia card in the mix. Read on to see which one is the best for your budget!
AMD has wasted no time bringing its DirectX 11 GPU architecture to a more affordable, mainstream-class GPU in the HD 5770. HIS is one of the first manufacturers to bring the HD 5770 to market.
At around $160, the card is priced similarly to existing Radeon HD 4870 cards. It’s the lowest-cost card in the roundup, and given the 180mm2 die size (that’s incredibly tiny for a GPU), prices are likely to eventually come down even further.
It’s easy to be seduced by the latest and greatest graphics cards, but you can sometimes find excellent deals in older-generation cards that can still keep up with today’s shader-heavy PC games. Gigabyte’s 260 GTX SuperOC is a good example.
To make the cards, Gigabyte starts with cherry-picked 260 GTX chips from the factory. Then it clocks the GPUs at 680MHz, more than 100MHz faster than the standard 576MHz. Similarly, the SuperOC pushes the shader clock to 1,466MHz, instead of the stock 1,350MHz. Rounding off the performance push is 896MB of GDDR3 running at 1.25GHz instead of 1GHz. Gigabyte delivers these rarefied clock rates at slightly less than $200.
As with Sapphire’s Radeon HD 5870, the company’s HD 5850 card ships with coupons for two games: Dirt 2 and Battlestations: Pacific. Sapphire’s HD 5850 delivers a stock Radeon HD 5850, with its 1,440 stream processors, 72 texture units, and DirectX 11 support.
In our power-usage testing, Sapphire’s power draw was about average for an HD 5850. Our system power averaged 140W at idle, while pushing 260W at full throttle. Fan noise was fairly loud at full bore, but that was generally true of all the cards. At idle, overall noise levels were low enough to blend into the background of CPU, power supply, and case cooling.
We admit to mixed feelings about Diamond’s Radeon HD 5850. On one hand, it offers the same strong performance as other Radeon HD 5850 cards—second only to their big-brother HD 5870 cards. But unlike other manufacturers, you don’t get a coupon for Dirt 2 in the box. Instead, you need to register the card at Diamond’s website to get the perk. You also won’t get the two-year warranty unless you register the card.
All of the Radeon cards tested in our review round-up are based on AMD’s reference design, including this Asus card. However, Asus includes Smart Doctor software, which allows you to easily overclock its card.
You can use the app to auto-tune the clock speeds, though this typically gives you a conservative up-clock that results in a relatively modest performance gain. When we used the auto-overclock feature, we saw gains of 8 percent in 3DMark Vantage, and a couple of frames per second in STALKER and Far Cry 2. If you have the patience, you can tweak voltage settings, core clocks, and memory clocks manually, which could boost performance more substantially.