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AMD’s ATI Radeon HD 5850

Although the cards were announced globally last September, AMD waited to unveil these products in the region until it had stock for the Middle East. The launch of these products in the region coincided with the unveiling of AMD’s new partner programme in January this year.

 

The Radeon HD 5850 shares the exact same features as the more powerful Radeon HD 5870. In fact, the GPU powering the card is essentially the same chip with a few functional blocks disabled. Radeon HD 5850 cards are still DirectX 11-ready, support ATI Eyefinity multi-display technology, offer the same UVD updates, and new anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering modes.



Where the two cards differ are in their allotment of stream processors–the Radeon HD 5850 has 1440 versus 1600 on the 5870. The Radeon HD 5850 also has fewer texture units, a shorter PCB, and a lower clocked GPU and memory. The changes made to the 5850 result in a much lower-power and a more affordable product for resellers and their end-user customers. How much performance has changed remains to be seen, but the price differential suggests a compromise on performance.

 

The HD 5850 is a significant step up from the Radeon HD 4870 which launched last year, but not quite as powerful as AMD’s current flagship Radeon HD 5870. The chart below illustrates exactly how the cards compare in a number of key categories.

 

Radeon HD 4870, Radeon HD 5850, and Radeon HD 5870 comparison

 

 

ATI Radeon HD 4870

ATI Radeon HD 5850

ATI Radeon HD 5870

Process

55nm

40nm

40nm

Transistors

956M

2.15B

2.15B

Engine clock

750MHz

725MHz

850MHz

Stream processors

800

1440

1600

Compute performance

1.2TFLOPs

2.09TFLOPs

2.72TFLOPs

Texture units

40

72

80

Texture Fillrate

30.0GTexels/s

52.2GTexels/s

68.0GTexels/s

ROPs

16

32

32

Pixel Fillrate

12.0GPixels/s

23.2GPixels/s

27.2GPixels/s

Z/Stencil

48.0GSamples/s

92.8Gsamples/s

108.8GSamples/s

Memory type

GDDR5

GDDR5

GDDR5

Memory clock

900MHz

1000MHz

1200MHz

Memory data rate

3.6Gbps

4.0Gbps

4.8Gbps

Memory bandwidth

115.2GB/s

128.0GB/s

153.6GB/s

Maximum board power

160W

151W

188W

Idle board power

90W

27W

27W

 

As you can see, the Radeon HD 5850 is outfitted with the same 2.15B transistor GPU manufactured at 40nm as the Radeon HD 5870, but the GPU is clocked at only 725MHz, and is outfitted with 1440 stream processors, which results in 2.09TeraFLOPS of compute performance versus the 5870’s 2.72TeraFLOPS. The Radeon HD 5850 also sports eight fewer texture units than the 5870, but the same number of ROPs.

 

The aggregate effect of all of the changes made to the Radeon HD 5850 result in a graphics card with a 52.2GTexels/s texture fillrate (23.2Gpixels/s), that’s still capable of breaking the 2TeraFLOP mark in terms of compute performance. The changes made to the Radeon HD 5850 result in lower power consumption too, as is evident by the card’s 151W max board power, which is actually 9 watts lower than the previous generation Radeon HD 4870.


The outputs on the Radeon HD 5850 consist of dual, dual-link DVI outputs, an HDMI output (with audio) and a DisplayPort output. Any combination of three of these ports can be used, and of course the card fully supports the ATI Eyefinity multi-display technology.




Finally, the 5850’s memory clock is reduced to 1000MHz (4Gbps data rate), which results in 128GB/s of peak bandwidth.



 

Having recently attended AMD?s regional launch of the ATI Radeon HD 5870 and and 5850 graphics cards, I was impressed to witness the components vendor?s innovation and sheer power of its latest graphic cards offering. After attending this in-depth channel tech session, I was keen to get my hands on a cut-down version to the Radeon 5870.

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