If geeks love it, we’re on it

AMD Radeon HD 7970 announced. You know you want it.

AMD Radeon HD 7970 announced. You know you want it.

AMD Radeon 7970
Today AMD announced the existence (and rapidly approaching release) of their latest flagship graphics card, the Radeon HD 7970, and it’s packed with a slew of new and improved technologies.

Here is what we know:

The Radeon HD 7970 uses the latest graphics architecture from AMD, dubbed Graphics Core Next (GCN), and is the first GPU built on 28nm production technology. The new and smaller technology allows for very high clock speeds and lower power usage at the same time. The core clock is set to 925MHz, although most (if not all) units should easily overclock to the 1GHz mark. During the conference call, the speaker reported his unit was currently running at 1.22GHz. 3GB of 1.375GHz GDDR5 is connected via 384-bit bus.

Four display connections will be available: two mini DisplayPorts, one HDMI 1.4 port, and one DVI port. All four are located along a single slot, leaving the second slot completely unobstructed for cooling. Despite the reduced number of output ports, AMD is making sure your multi-display setup won’t suffer: they’re including HDMI->DVI and active miniDP->DVI adapters with every card, so out of the box you’ll be able to run three non-DisplayPort monitors. Just like before, a total of six displays per GPU is supported.

The heatsink design has been tweaked slightly for improved cooling. The fan is now wider as are the blades, resulting in greater amounts of air circulation at lower RPM speeds. The max speed for the fan is now around 2000 RPM, lower than that of the 6900 series. To further improve cooling, the second DVI port was removed leaving the entire second slot unobstructed, reducing both temperature and noise levels.

The Radeon HD 7970 will be the first card to support the PCI Express 3.0 standard which provides 1Gb/s bandwidth per lane (16Gb/s for a 16x slot). It will retain backwards compatibility with both 1.0 and 2.0 standards, though a slight performance hit will occur during high data transfer rates.

Two PCI Express power cables will be required for the HD 7970: one six-pin and one eight-pin power connection will provide a maximum of 300W to the GPU. What’s interesting is the card, even under extreme loads, won’t use more than around 250W (I don’t recall the exact number…it was somewhere between 225-250W). So why not just put two six-pin power connectors on instead? That would be because…

New PowerTune

A refined version of PowerTune will debut with the new GPU, and this one is pretty interesting. Previous versions reduced performance as the power ceiling was reached, but did nothing if there was extra headroom. The version of PowerTune supported by the HD 7970 changes this. It will actually ramp up the clock speeds automatically when needed if its power draw will allow, similar to both AMD’s and Intel’s respective CPU ramping technologies.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is a new technology AMD calls ZeroCore Power. During long idle periods the Radeon HD 7970 can enter a very lower power state to conserve power. Should the display turn off due to power saving measures, the GPU will turn itself off, drawing less than 3W. When the GPU is needed, it can power back up within milliseconds. This technology also extends to other cards in a CrossFire configuration. Each card can power itself on or off independently as the situation demands.

Dual BIOS will make a return, allowing users to install a tweaked BIOS image while still having a backup plan that doesn’t involve buying another GPU.

Support for 16K displays is added. What are those? Well, basically it’s a freaking huge display. The Radeon HD 7970 supports displays up to 16,000 pixels wide by 16,000 pixels tall. With 4K displays right around the corner, an EyeFinity configuration that size display could easily be made in the near future.

Don’t forget the audio…

Perhaps one of the coolest new features doesn’t have as much to do with video as much as it does audio. Discrete Digital Multi-point Audio provides multiple independent audio streams for audio-capable displays using either HDMI or DisplayPort cables. Any audio stream coming from a video source on a particular display will play through that display’s speakers. Move the video? The audio follows.

With a list of qualifications like this, performance expectations are going to be very high, and AMD says those expectations should be met. For example, take Battlefield 3 and run it at Ultra settings at a resolution of 5760×1200 (that’s three 1920×1200 displays) EyeFinity setup. According to AMD a single Radeon HD 7970 will be able to handle this. Excited yet?

The Radeon HD 7970 officially launches today and will be available from retailers January 9 with select models starting at $549.

Some of the reviews from the web:

Comments

  1. Ryder
    Ryder There is a full review with benchmarks and overclocking already, as well.
  2. -MBG--De-Sniper
    -MBG--De-Sniper yep definitely want it :D
  3. fatcat
    fatcat dual bios eh?

    that means I need some 7950's hehe

    $549 is steep. wasn't the 6970 $399 at launch?
  4. primesuspect
    primesuspect
    There is a full review with benchmarks and overclocking already, as well.
    And we aren't one of them. Believe me, we are acutely aware :(
  5. Sledgehammer70
    Sledgehammer70 15-20% performance increase is a nice jump. A bit shocked it came in at so low overall, early reports where indicating a much bigger performance increase overall. Will be interesting to see how Nvidia responds.
  6. Tim
    Tim Only Anandtech used Starcraft 2 in its testing. What's the matter with the other 3 testing places? A 4v4 game at Ultra settings in SC2 can really work a GPU, especially when Protoss players start throwing all their psionic stuff around! There's enough going on at times to totally lag out my 4870.
  7. shwaip
    shwaip SC2 is CPU limited, for the most part.

    Also, if you notice their review, it doesn't really matter once you have a high end card - you get more than playable fps with any of them.
  8. Vinny
    Vinny Why does anyone consider Starcraft 2 a challenge? If you want to challenge your computer run these games on 3 1080p monitors: Bf3, Arma 2 (or 3 when it comes out), or crysis 2 with the dx11 pack.
  9. Ryder
    Ryder
    There is a full review with benchmarks and overclocking already, as well.

    And we aren't one of them. Believe me, we are acutely aware :(
    I was not meaning it in that way. I didn't know today was "NDA lifted day". I thought you had something others didn't, turns out it was everywhere :(

  10. Thrax
    Thrax I am happy to answer questions about this GPU if anyone has them.
  11. Cliff_Forster
    Cliff_Forster AMD got it right on this one. Deliver a card that runs faster, cooler, with better power efficiency. The 7970 wins on all counts. It almost makes up for Bulldozer.
  12. fatcat
    fatcat
    I am happy to answer questions about this GPU if anyone has them.
    Will the 7950 be launched at the same time?

  13. Darksword
    Darksword Hey all. Old-time Apu's/Icrontic member here from WAY back in the day. Did the hardware reviewing with MediaMan and moderated the forms with him and ImaginAsian. Glad to see the site is still alive and kicking. :D

    I think the 7970 will be my next upgrade. The 5870 I have now just doesn't quite cut it for 2560x1600 gaming. I'm a bit disappointed at the price, but I'm sure they'll still sell out on Day 1.
  14. fatcat
  15. Thrax
    Thrax
    I am happy to answer questions about this GPU if anyone has them.


    Will the 7950 be launched at the same time?

    The launch date is still being determined.
  16. pragtastic
    pragtastic Plan on picking this up, going from a 5770 -> 7970 is going to be so sweet. Unnf.
  17. primesuspect
    primesuspect
    Hey all. Old-time Apu's/Icrontic member here from WAY back in the day. Did the hardware reviewing with MediaMan and moderated the forms with him and ImaginAsian. Glad to see the site is still alive and kicking. :D

    I think the 7970 will be my next upgrade. The 5870 I have now just doesn't quite cut it for 2560x1600 gaming. I'm a bit disappointed at the price, but I'm sure they'll still sell out on Day 1.
    Hey Darksword. Long time no see. Great to see you posting :)



  18. csimon
    csimon Is launch day January 9th 2012 here in US, or other?
  19. Thrax
    Thrax One minute after midnight eastern time on Jan. 9.
  20. CannonFodder
    CannonFodder
    I am happy to answer questions about this GPU if anyone has them.


    Will the 7950 be launched at the same time?



    The launch date is still being determined.
    Any idea of the 7950 price?
  21. Thrax
  22. fatcat
    fatcat with the 7970 being $550, gonna say the 7950 will be at least $400

    the 6950/6970 will be where the deals are. 6950 crossfire for cheaper than a single 7950

    good times

    (pure speculation here)
  23. mertesn
    mertesn
    with the 7970 being $550, gonna say the 7950 will be at least $400

    the 6950/6970 will be where the deals are. 6950 crossfire for cheaper than a single 7950

    good times

    (pure speculation here)
    That's probably how it'll go down until the next NVIDIA generation comes out. Then prices will drop as competition heats up. I'd bet on around $450 for the 7970 when NV brings out their answer.
  24. stony
    stony Nope, since I lost use of my right hand, I had to
    hang up my screwdrivers.
  25. UPSLynx
    UPSLynx how many purples can this card render? I want to play dungeon defenders with it.
  26. primesuspect
  27. pigflipper
    pigflipper DARKSWORD! OMG! HOLY SHIT!

Howdy, Stranger!

You found the friendliest gaming & tech geeks around. Say hello!