Only a few days ago, everything seemed perfect in the best of all possible worlds for Nvidia. The card manufacturer had just launched its GeForce GTX 260 and 280, which – despite the six-month delay – pushed the unified architecture introduced with the GeForce 8 to the limits of what a 65-nm process and a gigantic number of transistors could offer. The performance gain compared to the former –and now older – generation wasn’t overwhelming (59% on average over a 9800 GTX), but the arrival of CUDA applications was an interesting development, and Nvidia had no competition. Meanwhile, AMD seemed to be ever deeper in the red with its graphics division, avowedly incapable of competing on the high-end market segment as it once did, with its existing high-end cards quickly aging performance-wise. Then came the hush-hush release of the Radeon HD 4850, even before anybody had time to test it, and at an astoundingly low price of $199.
Yet, in the AMD camp, a miracle has happened. The Radeon HD 4850’s performance surprised everybody – including Nvidia. Despite the last-minute launch of the GeForce 9800 GTX+, which will not be available in retail channels until mid-July, Nvidia simply can’t match the explosive performance/price ratio of the Radeon card as we demonstrated in our recent test. The familiar marketing pitch about optimizing efficiency and the architecture’s yield, which has always sounded like fluff, suddenly took on a new meaning considering the Radeon HD 4850’s test results. It also even awakened hopes of an even better performance in the future. Having managed — to its own surprise — to increase the number of multiprocessors from 320 to 800 despite a 43% increase in the number of transistors and at the same engraving depth, AMD doesn’t want to settle for playing in the minors – and for good reason. A Radeon HD 4870, based on the same architecture but with higher performance (and of course at a higher price) has been announced and is slowly beginning to be available, though there’s still some uncertainty about that last point. On paper, at least, it could directly compete with Nvidia’s new high-end cards, and at a significantly lower price. But how about in practice?
I have the 4950 and it is great
however, what are the possibilities for a CUDA like processing environment or handling Physics engines? I think AMD has done a great job making a pure video card, but I believe the future will be with unified technologies of having the GPU assist in other tasks as well.
Time will Tell
see how much I could gain by upgrading. Maybe thats an update to the desktop charts that just hasnt been dont yet? Seems like it would have already been.
The 4850 went up 6* and the 4870 went up 10*... I think the 4870 went up more, but you (Tom's) said it went up less.
LOTS of enthusiasts are planning a Nehalem build toward the end of the year. I image they will be getting 4850/4870s or GTX260/GTX280s. All depending on where the prices are I imagine.
I agree about the charts. I don't consider buying a 4870 vs an older card like an x1950, but it sure would be nice to see how much it has improved over time.