With the release of the Radeon HD 7000 series right around the corner (though new reports put the HD 7970 around Dec. 22), we are getting more details on the new series thanks to information trickled onto the web.
The Radeon HD 7000 utilizes a dual BIOS toggle switch, as seen with Radeon HD 6900 series. The first BIOS is "unprotected", which allows users to flash their "tweaked" BIOS to push the card even further. The second BIOS is "protected", which is a backup to the default settings just in case things don't go quite right with your "tweaked" BIOS. Cooling requirements haven't seen any major changes with only minor improvements to the design.
The display configuration has changed from previous generations. The display ports are all located in one PCIe slot, which provides two benefits, 1) Gives you a full slot slot for hot-air exhaust of the cooling assembly and 2) Gives you a single slot card when implementing a water cooling solution for the cards. The card comes with one DVI, one HDMI, and two mini-DisplayPort connectors. It is expected that the cards will ship with HDMI-to-DVI dongles and active mini-DP dongles.
As discussed here, the specifications for the Radeon HD 7970 were confirmed with the leaked slide by DonanimHaber.
- 4.50 billion transistors, die-area of 380 mm², built on TSMC 28 nm process
- Advanced GCN 1D architecture
- 2048 1D processing cores
- 128 TMUs, 48 ROPs
- 384-bit wide GDDR5 memory interface, memory clock slightly below 1 GHz, target bandwidth of 240~264 GB/s
- 6pin + 8pin power connector required
- PCI Express Gen 3.0
- DirectX 11.1 support
AMD is boosting the overclocking headroom with its Radeon HD 7970. The below slide shows AMD saying "1GHz and Beyond" is capable with its new series. The reference clock-speed is not known at this time.
The Radeon HD 7970 shows a nice improvement in tessellation performance over previous generation Radeon HD 6970. The overall performance increase is roughly 1.5 times faster in the tests conducted by AMD.