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A Wistful Conclusion

Benchmarking AMD's 768-Shader Pitcairn: Not For Public Consumption
By , Benjamin Kraft

Often, the most obvious things are the hardest to see. Although it assures us that our 768-shader engineering sample is unrepresentative of any planned product, we hope that AMD is taking note and perhaps reconsidering its approach to a GPU that'd fill the hole between existing Radeon HD 7700 and 7800 cards. After all, a board that goes head-to-head with Nvidia's GeForce GTX 560 Ti and consumes less power than a Radeon HD 7850 is certain to find a receptive audience.

Who might that be? As we see it, anyone unable (or unwilling) to spend $250 on a graphics card, but also disappointed by the much lower performance offered one step down at $150. The engineering sample today, based on a deliberately-hobbled 768-shader Pitcairn GPU is everything we could want from a $200 piece of hardware, although, again, no such component is said to even be in discussions.

Another unknown here is how quickly Nvidia plans to follow up its Fermi-based GeForce GTX 560 Ti with something newer and more efficient, and at what price.

If Nvidia can do it with the GeForce GTX 560 Ti 448 core, why shouldn't AMD?If Nvidia can do it with the GeForce GTX 560 Ti 448 core, why shouldn't AMD?

Let's keep our little dream going. While our prototype board sports 2 GB of memory, we don’t see any reason why AMD couldn't step that down to 1 GB, cutting cost, and making an actual in-between product more affordable. You wouldn't need to worry about giving up performance. At the resolutions and detail settings such an incarnation would target, 1 GB of GDDR5 memory would be more than sufficient. Remember the Radeon HD 6950? That card’s 1 GB implementation actually turned out to be faster than the 2 GB model! At any rate, a hypothetical Pitcairn-based card with 768 SPs and 1 GB of memory (AMD doesn't even want us to speculate about what such a board would be called) would be a very worthy successor to the Radeon HD 6870 that AMD has already EoLed.

In closing, we must reiterate that the board we tested is a prototype meant for internal development and validation purposes, and does not represent the single-slot Radeon HD 7850 we were supposed to be reviewing today, nor is it indicative of anything currently in AMD's development pipeline, the company stresses. It is not meant for sale or distribution, either. That's a shame, in our opinion. We believe AMD has the opportunity to address a very real market demand. Who knows, though? Maybe the right people at AMD will read your opinions and change their mind. Here’s your chance to be heard directly by AMD, so let us and them know what you think in the comments section.

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Top Comments
  • 23 Hide
    woe96 , May 8, 2012 4:34 AM
    i want one, that a amazing place in performance and probably only be $200
  • 22 Hide
    borden5 , May 8, 2012 4:40 AM
    oh man that single slot would be really nice for people who wanted small factor rig
  • 20 Hide
    weatherdude , May 8, 2012 6:04 AM
    This card performs great and a 1 GiB version selling at ~$200 would fill in a very large gap in the market. It would only make sense if AMD is cooking up something they'll likely call a 7830 to do just that. I guess though it would differ from this engineering sample if they're so insistent that they aren't bringing it to market. Maybe it'll have less texture units or ROPs.

    Still this card with 1 GiB at ~$200 would be pretty sweet AMD *nudge* *nudge*.
Other Comments
  • 23 Hide
    woe96 , May 8, 2012 4:34 AM
    i want one, that a amazing place in performance and probably only be $200
  • 15 Hide
    s3anister , May 8, 2012 4:35 AM
    I would never buy this card for myself but I would find myself recommending a 1GB model, like you mentioned, to family and friends. If the price is right AMD could have a great mid range card.
  • -9 Hide
    wolley74 , May 8, 2012 4:40 AM
    while a nice card, the 6850 is incredibly close and nearly $60 cheaper, the only thing is it does consume more power
  • 22 Hide
    borden5 , May 8, 2012 4:40 AM
    oh man that single slot would be really nice for people who wanted small factor rig
  • -8 Hide
    slomo4sho , May 8, 2012 4:50 AM
    Wouldn't 2 7750s in crossfire perform better than this rig and also consume less power at the ~$200 price point?
  • 17 Hide
    erraticfocus , May 8, 2012 5:04 AM
    Slomo4shOWouldn't 2 7750s in crossfire perform better than this rig and also consume less power at the ~$200 price point?


    Maybe, depending on your local market, but the single slot and price point is the whole point to this...
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , May 8, 2012 5:12 AM
    Say hello to the AMD HD Radeon 7790.
  • 15 Hide
    pwnorbpwnd , May 8, 2012 5:54 AM
    This card would be an AMAZING pick for an HTPC, Single slot, Low power, 2gb DDR3 for HDTV's, not to say 1gb wouldn't be okay. But really AMD, do it up! All of this positive feedback is great reason to make a crippled 7850!
  • 20 Hide
    weatherdude , May 8, 2012 6:04 AM
    This card performs great and a 1 GiB version selling at ~$200 would fill in a very large gap in the market. It would only make sense if AMD is cooking up something they'll likely call a 7830 to do just that. I guess though it would differ from this engineering sample if they're so insistent that they aren't bringing it to market. Maybe it'll have less texture units or ROPs.

    Still this card with 1 GiB at ~$200 would be pretty sweet AMD *nudge* *nudge*.
  • 6 Hide
    Anonymous , May 8, 2012 6:06 AM
    Doesn't the 7770 have 40 Texture Units and not 14?
  • 1 Hide
    atikkur , May 8, 2012 6:28 AM
    now bring the game..
  • 7 Hide
    blazorthon , May 8, 2012 6:58 AM
    A "7830" with 1GB of VRAM priced to compete with the 6870 or 6930 (if you have that in your country, the USA doesn't) 1GB cards would be great. If anyone wants a new card between the 7770 and 7850 in performance (basically, between a just short of a 6850 and just short of a 6970), then they're screwed because there is no middle point. They have no choice other than buying an old 6870, 6930, or 6950.

    With a 1GB model at $185 to $195 and a 2GB model (2GB is far better than 1GB for Crossfire setups at higher resolutions/quality/AA/AF) at $210 to $220 would be good. Also, 7830 is the best name for this, at least in my opinion. All that would need to be done is bringing down the power usage a little (need is a strong word for this, that it is lower than the 7850 is still a great improvement over the 5830 and 6790 fiascoes). I would like to see a 100 to 110 watt TDP, rather than a 120w TDP (sure, TDP does not equal power usage, but still). Even without doing that, it still uses less power than the 6870, so it's acceptable. However, if Nvidia makes a competing card (looks like they will), then Nvidia would probably undercut it by at least 15 to 20w.

    Regardless, come on AMD, release this as a 7830 or something such as that! It's a great card and it fills a market that is almost desperate for a refresh!

    NivalisSay hello to the AMD HD Radeon 7790.


    7830.
  • 4 Hide
    x3style , May 8, 2012 7:14 AM
    Give single slot card so we can revigorate our minimalistic solutions with extra power for when diablo III arives.
  • 1 Hide
    blazorthon , May 8, 2012 7:35 AM
    wolley74while a nice card, the 6850 is incredibly close and nearly $60 cheaper, the only thing is it does consume more power


    You mean the 6870, not the 6850. If more games were included, we would see the 6870 closer to this hypothetical 7830 most of the time. Keep in mind that Tom's tested a 2GB model, so you would have to compare it's price against the 6870 2GB for a fair comparison, not the 6870 1GB.
  • 9 Hide
    manu 11 , May 8, 2012 8:16 AM
    want one, cant afford the 7850! $160 should do it justice.
  • 10 Hide
    Rattengesicht , May 8, 2012 8:24 AM
    Do it AMD ! You know you want to ;-)
  • 14 Hide
    Maximus_Delta , May 8, 2012 8:44 AM
    I really like this sort of investigative journalism. Two thumbs up.
  • 1 Hide
    Darkerson , May 8, 2012 9:03 AM
    I guess we'll just have to wait and see if they change their mind and release it eventually. Would be a nifty little card with a more affordable price tag.
  • 10 Hide
    esrever , May 8, 2012 9:31 AM
    Anyone else notice that the 7970 and the 680 are trading blows? And it seems that they are pretty even?
  • -4 Hide
    Allan_01 , May 8, 2012 10:30 AM
    this should me HD7790
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