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AMD's Radeon HD 7970M, Exposed

Xotic PC NP9150: Striking Back At Kepler With Radeon HD 7970M

We already examined Clevo’s P150EM in Eurocom Racer 2.0 Review: Intel's Ivy Bridge Meets Nvidia's Kepler, though Sager, a distributor of Clevo's whitebook designs, renames it to the NP9150 before it gets to Xotic PC. Aside from the logos, it’s the same chassis.

Opening up the machine reveals very similar cooling to what we saw on Nvidia's GeForce GTX 660M. The Radeon HD 7970M has the same basic cooler design as the GeForce, but with custom-matched contact surfaces.

The Radeon HD 7970 GPU is composed of nearly three billion transistors, and it takes up much of the graphics module's real estate, even in light of TSMC's 28 nm manufacturing process. But isn't AMD's Radeon HD 7970 supposed to have 4.3 billion transistors?

Desktop vs Mobile Radeon Graphics
 Desktop Radeon HD 7970Radeon HD 7970MDesktop Radeon HD 7870
Transistors4.3 billion2.8 billion2.8 billion
Engine Clock925 MHz850 MHz1000 MHz
Stream Processors204812801280
Texture Units1288080
ROP Units323232
Compute Performance3.79 TFLOPS2.18 TFLOPS2.56 TFLOPS
DRAM TypeGDDR5-5500GDDR5-4800GDDR5-4800
DRAM Interface384-bit256-bit256-bit
Memory Bandwidth264 GB/s154 GB/s154 GB/s
TDP250 W75 W175 W

The Radeon HD HD 7970M obviously doesn't boast the Tahiti core with which its model name is most commonly associated. Rather, it's a more power-optimized version of the same Pitcairn GPU found in the desktop Radeon HD 7870. It’s not all bad that AMD chose a smaller die for its flagship mobile GPU, we just wish it had picked a more appropriate name. At least they’re both current-generation parts based on a 28 nm node.

Desktop vs Mobile GeForce Graphics
 Desktop GeForce GTX 670GeForce GTX 675MDesktop GeForce GTX 560 Ti
ArchitectureKepler (GK104)Fermi (GF114)Fermi (GF114)
Transistors3.54 billion1.95 billion1.95 billion
Engine Clock915 MHz620 MHz822 MHz
Cuda Cores1344384384
Texture Units1126464
ROP Units323232
Compute Performance2.46 TFLOPS952 GFLOPS1.26 TFLOPS
DRAM TypeGDDR5-6008GDDR5-3000GDDR5-4008
DRAM Interface256-bit256-bit256-bit
Memory Bandwidth192 GB/s96 GB/s128 GB/s
TDP170 W100 W170 W

By comparison, Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 675M isn’t even part of the same generation. Its GeForce GTX 560 Ti (based on the Fermi architecture at 40 nm) was a top value in its day, but even that card was replaced long ago by a more-powerful 448-core version. We’d like to come down harder on AMD for its naming tomfoolery, but Nvidia is the guiltier party in this specific case.

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