Benchmarking AMD's 768-Shader Pitcairn: Not For Public Consumption

A Wistful Conclusion

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?

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.

Benjamin Kraft
  • woe96
    i want one, that a amazing place in performance and probably only be $200
  • s3anister
    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.
  • wolley74
    while a nice card, the 6850 is incredibly close and nearly $60 cheaper, the only thing is it does consume more power
  • borden5
    oh man that single slot would be really nice for people who wanted small factor rig
  • slomo4sho
    Wouldn't 2 7750s in crossfire perform better than this rig and also consume less power at the ~$200 price point?
  • erraticfocus
    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...
  • Say hello to the AMD HD Radeon 7790.
  • pwnorbpwnd
    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!
  • weatherdude
    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*.
  • Doesn't the 7770 have 40 Texture Units and not 14?