Jon Peddie Research (JPR) released GPU shipment statistics for the third quarter of 2012, and while the numbers were all over the map, it was mostly good news for Nvidia (more on that in a moment). Discrete GPU shipments held steady at 34.3 million units, up 4.5 percent sequentially but down 5.2 percent compared to the same quarter one year ago. There was also a 4.5 percent dip in overall graphics shipments in Q3 compared to last year, JPR says.
The never ending GPU wars between Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and Nvidia means there's always something newer, better, and faster right around the corner. Neither player likes to tip their hand ahead of schedule, but the Internet is the ultimate tattletale, and right now it's telling us what to expect from AMD's upcoming Radeon HD 8870 and 8850 parts. If the source is to believed, that is.
Summer might be coming to an end in the coming weeks, but the GPU price wars between AMD and Nvidia are just starting to heat up. To wit, AMD rolled out a series of price reductions in July for its Radeon HD 7970, 7950, and 7870 graphics cards, and now that Nvidia has made Kepler affordable with its GeForce GTX 660 Ti part, AMD is once again responding in kind with another round of cuts.
The spunky chip designers at Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) just launched the company's latest line of GPU work horses, claiming the new FirePro parts are the fastest workstation graphics cards the world has ever seen. Leading the pack is AMD's FirePro W9000, a $3,999 graphics solution that offers 4 TFLOPS of single precision floating point performance, 1 TFLOP double precision, and a GPU that's capable of pumping out 1.95 billion triangles per second.
Technology and Lindsay Lohan don't seem to have a lot in common, but like the oft troubled celebrity, technology seems to always age faster than anyone thought possible. In a sense, there's no such thing as future proofing. We bring this up because a pair of popular mid-range graphics cards from yesterday -- Nvidia' GeForce GTX 560 and 550 parts -- are on the verge of becoming obsolete tomorrow.
‘We don’t need no stinkin’ reference design!’ says XFX
It's not unusual to see factory-overclocked videocards ship with custom cooling solutions a few months after a GPU launches. But XFX didn’t waste any time with its Radeon HD 7970 Black Edition—a factory-overclocked card with a custom cooling solution that aims to take the performance crown. Based on what we’ve seen to date, XFX has delivered the fastest single-GPU card on the planet.
The Radeon HD 7970 is AMD’s latest GPU, with support for DirectX 11.1 and OpenCL 1.2. It’s a brand-new architecture—completely different from past AMD GPUs—built on TSMC’s 28nm manufacturing process and sporting a staggering 4.3 billion transistors. In AMD’s reference design, the 7970’s core runs at 925MHz, and its GDDR5 memory is clocked at 1,375MHz. XFX ups the ante significantly, pushing the core clock speed to a whopping 1GHz and running its 3GB of memory at 1,425MHz.
As you might imagine, the results are nothing short of amazing. We’re seeing genuine performance milestones here, including a 3DMark 11 performance score higher than 8,000 (for a single GPU), Far Cry 2 hitting 100fps at 2560x1600 with 4x AA, and Batman: Arkham City heading north of 50fps at the same resolution and AA settings. On top of that, the idle system power is just 124 watts, and a dark idle (when Windows 7 blanks the screen) draws 110 watts. Push the card and you’ll see system power consumption climb to 349 watts, but that merely puts its overall power draw into Fermi territory. XFX’s Radeon HD 7970 Black Edition is substantially faster than EVGA’s super-overclocked 3GB GeForce GTX 580 Classified, and it’s outfitted with just two PCIe power connectors (one 8-pin and one 6-pin). EVGA’s card requires three power connectors.
You can't hardly buy a processor any more without also purchasing a graphics chip. That's because many of today's CPUs sport integrated graphics, a relatively new development as both AMD and Intel push their respective CPU+GPU solutions onto the masses. But despite each company's efforts, along with a constant flow of discrete GPU solutions from AMD and Nvidia, graphics shipments are down overall.
Nvidia today rolled out the welcome mat for the newest addition to its Kepler family, the GeForce GTX 670. The new 670 is "engineered from the same DNA as the recently announced GTX 680," but is a more affordable part with prices starting at $399 for cards built around Nvidia's reference design. And according to Nvidia, the 670 is a full 45 percent faster in gaming performance than the closest competitive product (i.e., AMD's Radeon HD 7950).
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) may have underestimated the challenges involved with churning out 28nm parts, or perhaps the company is simply inundated with orders. In the end, it doesn't really matter what the problem is, as far as clients go, and when Nvidia reportedly threatened to place orders with TSMC's competitors, suddenly the GPU maker was bumped to the front of the line.
With a nary a peep from rival Nvidia, AMD today rolled out two additional 28nm graphics cards, both of which are built around the Pitcairn GPU that nestles into the mainstream spot just below Tahiti. The new cards are the Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition ($349) and Radeon HD 7850 ($249), and they both feature AMD's 28nm Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture specifically designed for general computing.