Sunnyvale (CA) - AMD is ready to launch its second assault at Nvidia’s performance leadership in the graphics industry within three weeks. This time AMD goes after Nvidia’s flagship cards GTX 260 and GTX 280 and if we believe the company, then AMD has regained the performance the crown with a significantly faster card that comes with two GPUs, 1600 processors and bunsen burner heat.
Ok, so we know that enthusiasts don’t care very much about the power consumption of their PC. But, slowly but surely, we seem to be hitting ridiculous power levels with graphics cards. About two months ago, Nvidia rolled out its 236 watt design; AMD’s ATI division now follows with a 270 watt version to top its rival from the green team.
We have to admit, though, that your investment in electricity will get you products with impressive supercard specs.
Nvidia’s $500-or-so GTX280 comes with 1.4 billion transistors, 1 GB of GDDR3 memory with a bandwidth of 141 GB/s and 240 processing cores, clocked at 1296 MHz, that deliver a single-precision floating point performance of 933 GFlops. For about $50 more you could step up to AMD’s brand new Radeon HD 4870 X2, which delivers 2 x 956 million transistors, 2 GB of GDDR5 memory with a bandwidth of 230 GB/s, 1600 processors running at 750 MHz (the same as a single-GPU on a HD 4870 card) and a single precision floating point performance of 2.4 TFlops.
AMD claims that the new X2 card will scale with an efficiency of about 60-90% compared to the single GPU card in typical benchmarks and current games and deliver more than twice the speed than Nvidia’s GTX 280 in some games - such as Call of Juarez. Compared to two 4870 cards, which would cost you about $600 at current prices, the $549 Radeon HD 4870 X2 will offer between 8 and 20% more speed, AMD claims. The enormous horsepower of this card may open up new opportunities in desktop supercomputing as two of these cards can crank out a theoretical maximum of close to 5 TFlops through 3200 stream processors.
If you don’t want to shell out $550 for a new graphics card, AMD will soon begin offering a slightly scaled down version of the card as a HD 4850 X2 version with a clock speed of 625 MHz, 2 GB of GDDR3 memory, 2.0 TFlops floating point performance and a maximum power consumption of 230 watts. AMD claims that the performance of this card will be comparable to Nvidia’s GTX 280 cards for the price of a GTX 260.
However, if you do want the bragging rights, you will have to go with the 4870 X2, and if you can afford it, in a $1000+ CrossFireX configuration. According to AMD, two cards and four GPUs is currently the only possibility to run Crysis (DX10 HQ, 4xAA, 8xAF) and Lost Planet (DX10 HQ, 8xAA, 16xAF) in a resolution of 2560x1600 at more than 30 fps.