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ATI HD Radeon 5870: The Fastest Videocard Ever (PS It's $380)


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by Loyd Case

{i just posted some of the first page, this spans well over 4 pages if you want to read the full review click on the link below at the end of this artical}

AMD packs 2.15 billion transistors into a tiny chip, offering outstanding performance, DirectX 11 support, and triple-monitor (or better) capability. Nvidia’s response is nowhere to be seen


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.

Digging into the Radeon HD 5870

At its core is a no-compromise GPU more efficient than any in graphics history

Two years ago, AMD’s ATI division decided to bow out of the game of building huge, hot chips that were expensive to make, ceding the high-end glory to Nvidia’s GT200 chip. That’s not to say AMD gave up on performance; it instead adopted the mantra of building the best performance GPU within a certain cost and power envelope.

The Radeon HD 5800 series, originally code-named RV870, is the culmination of that approach. Taking advantage of Moore’s Law, ATI’s designers were able to build a GPU with few compromises using a 40nm manufacturing process.

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