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Wednesday, 15 December 2010 06:06

XFX Radeon HD 6970 and HD 6950 tested

Written by Sanjin Rados
Review: AMD strikes back with a vengeance

Today is Radeon HD 6900 day and AMD has a lot riding on the new Cayman series. As usual, the new series offers two cards dubbed Radeon HD 6970 and Radeon HD 6950. Both are based on the new Cayman core, AMD's second generation DirectX 11 core. Of course, unless you spent the past six months under a rock, you probably knew this, but now that the intro is out of the way, we can get on with stuff that actually matters.

Radeon HD 6970 will succeed the HD 5870 on AMD's single-GPU throne and it will compete against Nvidia's Gefroce GTX 570. The fastest single-GPU card in this year will still be the GTX 580, but the fastest card around overall remains the one-year old AMD dual-GPU HD 5970.

Since both graphics heavyweights are well behind their deadlines, the fight for the fastest graphics card is expected to start in early 2011. This period will see AMD announce its dual-GPU HD 6990, whereas Nvidia will be ready with its own dual-GPU board.

This year seems to have favored AMD when it comes to DirectX11 cards, as the company managed to fill out its DirectX11 lineup quite nicely and much sooner than Nvidia. AMD's execution was nothing short flawless, which can't be said of Nvidia. Furthermore, sales figures confirm that AMD won this round with about 25 million shipped DirectX11 cards under its belt.

However, as much as AMD and Nvidia try to promote new DirectX 11 technologies, Steam statistics say that 85% of gamers still didn’t upgrade to DirectX 11. The reason is more or less the lack of DirectX 11 games. With its HD 6900 series, AMD aims at hardcore gamers looking for top performance and plan to upgrade to DirectX 11 graphics with a brand new graphics card.


The Cayman Architecture

Radeon HD 6970 ; Driver: HD6900_8.79.6.2rc2_Win_Vista_7


Radeon HD 6950 ; Driver: HD6900_8.79.6.2rc2_Win_Vista_7


The recently released AMD Barts GPU used the “old“ VLIW5 design, although it had some neat features regarding the actual design of the chip (individual dispatch processors for each of the SIMD blocks). Cayman on the other hand feels like real evolution as it indeed features the new VLIW4 design. This means that it has four proper stream processing units, as opposed to VLIW5 with four simple and one complex SP unit.

Cayman now uses what AMD calls a 4-way co-issue. This means that all stream processing units have equal capabilities, and there is no complex SP unit (also known as the T-unit).

The new VLIW4 design should provide a ten percent improvement in performance per mm2, at least according to AMD. Although it looks like all four SM units are equal in size and use, it appears that two (third and fourth) are assigned with some special functions, also known as the transcendentals. Bear in mind that they have nothing to do with Walt Whitman and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The talk of greater parallelization started with the Barts GPU which had individual dispatch processors for each SIMD Engine Block, something that certainly helped Barts with tessellation. Cayman on the other hand, has two graphics processing engines (GPEs), one for each SIMD engine, which means that it should raise the tessellation performance by a factor of three to four when compared to the HD 5870, at least on paper.

Another novelty is the upgraded Render Back-End which in Cayman's case has 128 Z/Stencil ROPs, 32 color ROPs, 2x faster 16-bit integer ops and 2-4x faster 32-bit FP ops.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 15 December 2010 15:00
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+7 #1 AmdAti 2010-12-15 05:17
Awesome price/performance ratio. Will buy antillies version AHH YEAHH.
-9 #2 Deanjo 2010-12-15 05:27
GTX-580 = Georges Rush St-Pierre
Radeon HD 6970 = Josh Koscheck
+13 #3 shaggart5446 2010-12-15 05:42
i have to raise my hat to fud first time in my life ive ever read his article and feel so pleased with it if u could just behave in that manner to both nvidia and amd and just not nvidia as ur prefference good article im an amd lover and i think gtx 580 win but as u summed it up ur words speak for its self good job
+7 #4 godrilla 2010-12-15 05:42
Thanks fudzilla for the early review.
Now for the scaling in crossfire performance!
-4 #5 Sodomy 2010-12-15 05:51
i'll wait for the trustable review sites to come out before making judgment, as this seems to conflict with other reviews that i have have seen.
-6 #6 LASER 2010-12-15 06:06
god damn it!
i was awake whole night and just had little sleep... after reviews of 6970 all GTX 570 has sold from newegg...

Yea i knew it ... Cuda + Phy + tesse...everyone wants to grab sweets!
yeah u r right Sodomy!
-15 #7 pauly69 2010-12-15 06:21
all the ati fanboys were saying how good it will be and that it will beat GTX5x0 - HAHA no chance ati is just a bitch that got buttfcuked by nvidia
-14 #8 stoneeh 2010-12-15 06:24

now rate me up cause you know it's true
+9 #9 HYPOCRIT 2010-12-15 06:47
+9 #10 jonelsorel 2010-12-15 07:00
Quoting shaggart5446:
i have to raise my hat to fud first time in my life ive ever read his article and feel so pleased with it if u could just behave in that manner to both nvidia and amd and just not nvidia as ur prefference good article im an amd lover and i think gtx 580 win but as u summed it up ur words speak for its self good job

Uh.. just by reading the final conclusion sentence you realize it can't possibly be written by Fuad. Author is Sanjin Rados. :)

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