What's the first I did upon hearing the numbers for ATI's new HD Radeon 5870 graphics card? I scrambled for benchmarks, because that's the one thing an announcement and subsequent review of a smokin' new piece of hardware can do for a rabid enthusiast: inspire.
It's been a while since I've actually sat down and crunched the numbers for my killer custom PC (that's killer as in legendary, not NICs). I'm not lazy. Rather, I don't have access to the expensive system benchmarks that magazines and Web sites typically use to analyze the all the new hardware that comes out. I don't have all-in-one benchmarks like PCMark Vantage, GPU-punishing titles like Crysis, and--worst of all--preconfigured demo runs for any number of titles that would help ensure the validity and repeatability of the delivered scores.
In short, I have nothing. You might not have nothing, but odds are good that you are similarly ill-equipped to benchmark your graphics card (and any tweaks or modifications you make) in the style of a professional review. Nothing... until now.
This week's freeware roundup will show you five different games that you can use to punish your poor graphics card into frames-per-second submission. They might cost a grand total of zero dollars, but these tests are repeatable and easy to use--the perfect combination of characteristics for aspiring benchmarkers who might not want to get their hands dirty, but still want some kind of way to determine exactly how powerful their graphics card really is.
In Act I of the modern-day GPU wars, AMD lit up the scene by releasing the ATI Radeon HD 5870, the fastest single-GPU videcoard money can buy. In Act II, AMD will hope to also claim the dual-GPU crown with its upcoming HD 5870 X2.
The latest rumor pegs the beastly dual-GPU videocard for an October release, though AMD hasn't said anything official yet. Nevertheless, to satisfy power users with deep pockets who are chomping at the bit, leaked pics of the 5870 X2 have hit the web.
Not just one leaked pic either, but several of them, each one showing the 5870 X2 in its massive glory. The X2 appears to trump the 5870 in length, which already measures about 11 inches long. While it's hard to determine exactly how long the X2 will be, it looks to be about a half-inch longer.
Get your fill of fuzzy GPU porn here, then hit the jump and sound off!
AMD’s graphics division, the former ATI Technologies, loves a good surprise. The company has been a perennial also-ran in the graphics performance arena, but every now and then, it one-ups the competition in a big way. That happened back in 2002, with the launch of the original Radeon 9700, which stole the performance lead from archrival Nvidia. It happened again last year, with the Radeon HD 4800 series. The 4850, 4870, and 4890 weren’t always faster than the competition, but they were small, efficient chips that forced Nvidia into a price war that was good for users but bad for Nvidia’s bottom line.
Now AMD’s doing it again, putting some serious hurt on the competition with the first GPU to support Microsoft’s upcoming DirectX 11 API. AMD’s also been paying close attention to the emerging market for non-gaming apps accelerated by GPUs, such as video transcoding and digital photography, fully supporting DirectCompute 11 and OpenCL standards for general purpose computing on graphics cards.
This new chip is no shrinking violet in the numbers department. Every number associated with the new Radeon 5800 series is staggering: 2.15 billion transistors, 2.7 trillion floating-point operations a second, more than 20 gigapixels per second throughput, 1,600 shader units. Other numbers impress because of their smallness. One example: The idle power is a scant 27W— lower than many entry level GPUs.
Given the sheer scale and ambition of this GPU, does it deliver in the performance realm? And will it deliver at a price normal humans can afford? Let’s find out.
Holy marketing, Batman, have you seen what Zotac has done with its GTX 285!? In a move sure to delight Dark Knight fans, the graphics card maker today announced a new limited edition GTX 285 featuring artwork of Gotham City's caped crusader on the heatsink.
"Batman: Arkham Asylum adventure has received glowing reviews from press all aorund the world just like our Zotac GeForce GTX 285 has. Putting them both together to make the Zotac GeForce GTX 285: Batman Edition was an obvious combination for us," said Carsten Berger, marketing director, Zotac International.
More than just a pairing of artwork to graphics card, Zotac is also bundling in a coupon for a full copy of Batman: Arkham Asylum, which gamers can redeem at Nvidia's nZone, Zotac says.
Perhaps somewhat of a missed opportunity, Batman will have to fight crime using Nvidia's reference clockspeeds. The GTX 285 comes clocked at 648MHz on the core, 1,242MHz on the memory, and pumps the shader clock at 1,476MHz, which are all identical to a stock GTX 285.
In exactly one week from now, AMD is expected to launch its ATI Radeon HD 5850 and 5870 videocards, which as it turns out will be a precursor of more 5000 series cards to come. And you won't have to wait long, either.
According to news and rumor site DigiTimes, un-named sources at graphics cards makers have been chirping about a new series of ATI Radeon HD 5700 GPUs just around the corner. Codenamed Juniper XT and LE, the Radeon HD 5770 and 5750 should be in stores sometime in October. Both will come with 1GB of GDDR5 video memory on a 128-bit memory bus and support the recently announced multi-monitor Eyefinity technology.
Then in November, AMD will update its flagship offering with the R800-based Radeon HD 5870 X2. The reason for the slight delay, says Fudzilla, is that AMD is trying to figure out how to power and cool the dual-GPU card, which reportedly carries a TDP of 376W. By comparison, the HD 4870 X2's rated TDP is 286W.
In addition to its desktop lineup, AMD will also port its HD 5000 series over to notebooks, including the ATI Mobility Radeon 5400 for entry-level systems, 5600 for mainstream, 5700 for performance, and 5800 for high-end laptops.
According to Legit Reviews, who is out wining and dining with AMD at the AMD Evergreen Vision launch event, the chip maker plans to launch a pair of new videocards on September 22nd, the ATI Radeon HD 5870 and HD 5850.
AMD hasn't yet said a whole lot about its upcoming graphic cards, but news and rumor side Fudzilla feels pretty confident the RV870-based HD 5870 will come clocked at 825MHz and boast 1,600 shaders, which is twice as many as RV770. It will also pack as many as 2.1 billion transistors, which is more than twice as many as RV770.
Other purported specs include an unspecified amount of GDDR5 memory clocked at 1.3GHz and 150GB/s of bandwidth.
The less powerful HD 5850 is expected to come clocked at 725MHz and ship with 1,440 shaders, while the same GDDR5 memory will race along at 1GHz. Both cards will come with 32 ROPs, Fudzilla says.
Technology moves forward at a rapid pace and any parts you buy today could very well turn obsolete in six months, let alone six years. But if Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang's predictions turn true, the order of magnitude in which graphics technology is set to explode is like nothing we've seen in recent history.
According to Huang, GPU compute is likely to skyrocket by 570x over its current capabilities in the next six years. And never one to pass up a chance to take a dig at Intel and its CPU business, Huang also pointed out that 'pure' CPU performance will be limited to just 3x in same time frame.
If Huang's crystal ball proves flawless, there won't be any question whether or not upcoming GPUs can run Crysis. But gamers won't be the only ones to benefit from the additional horsepower. Huang pointed out a number of "real-world" GPU applications, such as interactive ray tracing, CGI, and others.
According to Jon Peddi research, growth in shipments of discrete videocards might mean the recession is winding down. It's also good news for AMD, whose graphics market share has been on the rise thanks to a combination of stabilizing pricing and a hot-selling Radeon product line.
This allowed AMD to snag a larger share of the overall market, which increased to 34 percent for the quarter. But it's not all bad news for Nvidia, who despite slipping four points still owns the lion's share at 64 percent.
All told, Jon Peddie Research said that 16.81 million discrete videocards where shipped in the second quarter of 2009, which is a 3 percent increase from the first quarter, but still down 15 percent over the same quarter one year ago. But JPR believes the worst is over, noting the numbers "demonstrated some much-needed firmness in Q2'09, adding more evidence that demand has bottomed and a recovery is in the offing."
If you've waited this long to upgrade your graphics card, you might as well finish off the summer with whatever GPU you've been getting by with. That's because both AMD and Nvidia plan to release new videocards this fall..
According to news and rumor site DigiTimes, Nvidia's upcoming 40nm GeForce 210 (GT218) GPU-based cards will start shipping in October thanks to improved yields at foundry partner Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing company (TSMC).
Detailed specs remain light, but the GeForce 210 will come with either DDR2 or DDR3 memory and offer up support for DirectX 10.1 and Shader Model 4.1, sources say. Nvidia will follow up the GT218 launch with GT230 and GT300 parts in the fourth quarter of this year.
As for AMD, the CPU/GPU maker will finally launch its RV870 GPU this fall, possibly as early as September.
Three years from now, two-thirds of all new desktop systems will be mutli-GPU capable and of those, 30 percent will be rocking multiple graphics chips. Or at least that's the not-too-distant future Jon Peddie Research Group (JPR) laid out last week in a report on the history, technology, and future of multi-GPU computing. But are we really on the verge of widespread multi-GPU computing?
Not so fast, says Arstechnica. The JPR report points to the desire for high performance computing as the driving force for multi-GPU setups, noting high performance workloads are highly parallel and unsuited for CPU applications. But according to Arstechnica, JPR hasn't thought through the manufacturing angle.
"GPUs are composed of many parallel processing units, so any multi-GPU system involves simply ganging together still more of such small, simple processor cores," Arstechnica writes. "Because the cores are small and the workload is parallel, there is no limit on core count analogous to the limit on the number of processors that can profitably be used in a single x86 CPU. The limits on single-die GPU horsepower are manufacturing limits."
But it's not just about manufacturing. As Ars points out, only two percent of all desktop PCs sold last year came with multiple GPUs, and in Q4 of last year, only 15.2 million out of 38.5 million PCs sold came with even a single discrete graphics card. It's hard to imagine such a dramatic shift towards multiple GPUs in just three short years from now.
There's more to Ars' argument, which you can read here.