CES 2010, Day 1: AMD CPUs, DX11 Goes Mobile, Fermi Spotted

AMD Graphics: Doubling Down On DX11

AMD currently has the three most powerful graphics cards on the market, plus several highly-competitive offerings in its mid-range lineup; all are DirectX 11-capable. Now, the company is upping the ante against arch-rival Nvidia with its announcement of mobile DirectX 11 GPUs. Let’s take a quick look at the speeds and feeds.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Mobility Radeon HD 5800-SeriesMobility Radeon HD 5700-SeriesMobility Radeon HD 5400-Series
Transistor Count1.04 billion626 million242 million
Stream Processors80040080
Video Memory1GB GDDR5/3 (or DDR3)512MB / 1GB GDDR5/3 (or DDR3)256MB/512MB/1GB GDDR5/3 (or DDR3/2)

The overall thermal envelopes and actual clock rates will vary, depending on model number. In other words, a Mobility Radeon HD 5870 will have the same base feature set as a Mobility Radeon HD 5850, but with different core and memory clocks.

The first two things you might notice are the shader units and transistor counts. As with earlier AMD mobile GPUs (and Nvidia's lineup as well), AMD’s product numbering scheme leaves something to be desired. The company feels that the “5800” moniker means it’s the fastest in its class. So, the fact that a Mobility Radeon HD 5870 will have half the shader units of a desktop-class Radeon HD 5870 isn’t relevant, according to the company's marketing department. I’ve personally heard different from users who are confused by the product numbering scheme, expecting similar feature sets for similar product numbers (Ed.: and the rest of us here at Tom's Hardware are also fairly frustrated with both vendors' mobile naming). A good rule of thumb: “Mobility” means “desktop minus one.” So, the feature set of the Mobility Radeon 5870 is roughly on par with the desktop Radeon HD 5770.

Product numbering aside, it’s likely that AMD’s GPUs will mop the floor with current Nvidia offerings. The company has already roared back in market share, surpassing 50% in the discrete GPU segment over the past few months. Its DirectX 11 lineup will likely widen the lead. In fact, AMD and Nvidia are practically neighbors on the show floor; AMD has the bigger booth.

AMD's representatives talked up a lot of other graphics-oriented topics, including some upcoming developments in desktop GPUs, new driver features, and the future of CrossFire. But they weren’t quite ready to go public yet on those items.

AMD And 3D

I noted in our CES 2010, Day 0 coverage that 3D video is being pushed hard by most of the HDTV manufacturers. On the gaming side, Nvidia has been pushing its GeForce 3D Vision stereoscopic product, based on LCD shutter glasses, for some time now.

“3D” in this context means stereoscopic 3D, which should not be confused with 3D graphics, which are typically output to 2D displays. All 3D stereoscopic solutions require users to wear some form of glasses, whether they're LCD shutters or polarized shades.

AMD is diving into the 3D trend feet-first by supporting existing middleware vendors rather than trying to promote any single standard. It’s very likely that any HDTV 3D stereoscopic technology will not use shutter glasses, but avoiding a bet on a technology winner in content encoding at this point is probably a good idea. AMD will be having demos of 3D on large panel displays on the CES show floor.

Chris: You might remember last year that ATI was talking about this same phenomenon and working with a company called iZ3D. It's worth noting that, in the last year, we haven't heard anything from either company with regard to forward progress in stereoscopic gaming. Maybe this year will be different!

More on CES 2010

  • alterecho
    i just lost some respect for ati. I really appreciated their 4000 series
    mobility parts since they were truthful unlike nvidia.

    It looks like AMD cpu division - so so engineering, good marketing.
    AMD graphics divisions - superb engineering, really bad marketing at least
    on the mobility front. Hope they don't turn into a nvidia any further.
    alswome hope its out soon
  • jenesuispasbavard
    I agree with alterecho, even the Mobility Radeon 4850 has 800 stream processors, and now the Mobility Radeon 5870 has the same? At least it's GDDR5...
  • soark
    What is the motherboard used in the Fermi preview? The motherboard orientation is up, is that any good?
  • The case looks awesome, 6 internal hd's good layout.. whats the model!?
  • cobular
    paradoksThe case looks awesome, 6 internal hd's good layout.. whats the model!?Pretty sure its the new silverstone raven (think thats the name) case the rotated 90 degrees motherboard is pretty unique.
  • Ryun
    zipzoomflyhighIt's good that a company proven to lie, cheat, steal and bribe is going to make the money back it payed as punishment? Really?I know TH are total Intel fanboys, but man, Loyd Case, you take the cake.
    He meant it's good for AMD; you really just took what he said out of context. Regardless of whether he's a fanboy or not the fact is AMD doesn't really have anything new for us on the CPU front. While the X4 Athlon IIs are pretty competitive with the i3s they're certainly in for a rough year. It'll help thing they've got a good thing going with the 5-series radeons, though.
  • linaaslt
    As i'v read you'll need to get a new case for Fermi, the case that you can see in picture, and that's sad news for some of us... :/
  • leon2006
    I'm waiting for detailed HDTV 3D specs/standards definition. I'm in a market for another HDTV and I'm reconsidering it pending the definition of the new standard. Its pretty clear that we need to purchase new TV set to avail of 3D movies/shows at home.
  • brisingamen
    um i gotta say the nvidia fermi display looked nice and weak, judging by the lack of fanfare it makes me think that it could be a 5850 re-cased for all we know running that benchmark haha,