Graphics - Published on Thursday, 22 December 2011 13:52 Written by Jacob Hugosson
AMD's fresh graphics card HD 7970 that was paper launched today brings high performance and energy efficiency. This has secured the performance throne for AMD until NVIDIA can get its new graphics card out on the market, and we have summarized the launch below.
We can't say we are surprised by the performance of HD 7970, but it was on the level had expected. Despite that we have to say that AMD's new flagship is a real beast in many ways and not just the performance. HD 7970 is based on the circuit Tahiti that uses 4.31 billion transistors, but still measures just 365mm².
Performance is about 20 percent over GTX 580 depending on game and test, and what AMD told was true: HD 7970 requires resolutions above 1920 x 1080 or an Eyefinity configuration to really stretch its legs. It is in the most extreme resolutions and in multi-monitor configurations it excels. AMD has been criticized by the media for its poor tessellation performance in DirectX 11 compared to NVIDIA, something that has been corrected now as the card plays all modern games without a sweat.
HD 6990 and GTX 590 sporting dual graphics cards are still faster than HD 7970, but they do have two circuits and the energy consumption is much higher. HD 7970 is on par with HD 6970 when it comes to energy consumption, which has to be considered impressive, but still not a surprise with the promises of the new 28nm technology. The best of the energy consumption is not the high load numbers, but how it works when the computer is idle. The new ZeroCore technology takes the card down to levels no performance circuits has been to before.
If you want to stay on top you have to pay, and the card will cost you at least $549/€499. According to our own surveys it will be more when the cards arrive in the middle of January. Those who are looking to spend around half that should wait for Pitcairn and Cape Verde, which will be used for HD 7800 and HD 7700. It is not entirely clear when these will launch, but we are guessing February and March respectively.
Besides HD 7970 the big news is that TSMC's 28nm technology is ready. According to AMD yields are already on par with expectations (unlike 40nm) and the manufacturing is moving forward as planned. Besides new graphics cards from AMD, we have new creations from NVIDIA to look forward to and as AMD has proved - there is a lot to get from TSMC and its new 28nm technology.