AMD today partially lifted an embargo that prevented hardware review sites from publishing reviews of its upcoming HD 4850 GPU.
Despite previous confusion, it is now confirmed that the GPU will come with 800 stream processors, 965 million transistors, 40 texture units, a core that is clocked at 625 MHz, and 512 MB of GDDR3 memory at 1986 MHz. The maximum power consumption of the card is rated at 110 watts.
In terms of performance, the 4850 goes head to head with Nvidia’s 9800 GTX (which was dropped to $199 today). Reviews published today indicated that the two GPUs deliver a close race in terms of gaming performance. Most reviews we saw today saw the 4850 ahead of the 9800 GTX in games such as Call of Duty 4, FEAR and in the 3D Mark vantage benchmark under Windows Vista. The 4850 came in behind the 9800 GTX in Crysis, ET: Quake Wars, Stalker, Ghost Recon and Grid.
Some may consider Nvidia as keeping the lead and even extending it with the release of the 9800 GTX+ GPU for $229 graphics cards.
But first reviews indicate that AMD has a solid product on its hands. The 4850 version will be announced on June 23 and become available on June 25, according to our sources, followed by the 4870 on July 8 and the 4870 X2 in mid-August.
According to AMD, the new HD 4850 GPU (codenamed RV770) is superior to Nvidia’s GTX200 in several ways. AMD says that on a performance per watt scale, the RV770 GPU comes in at 1.95x while the GTX200 delivers just 1x performance. Memory wise, AMD says that its RV770 GPU supports GDDR5 memory compared to the GTX200’s GDDR3 support. However, current HD 4850 cards on the market that are starting to appear all come with GDDR3 memory. This is because the HD 8450 cards all use the RV7700 Pro GPU. Those who want GDDR5 will have to wait for cards using the RV770 XT.
The RV770 XT is expected to launch within several days, with an even higher clock speed of 750MHz compared to 625MHz for the RV770 Pro. Because of the memory difference, the overall bandwidth for a board using a RV770 XT is nearly double that of a RV770 Pro board — 115.2GB/sec. vs. 64GB/sec.