AMD put its DirectX 11 cards on the table

Okay, to pick up where I left off yesterday… As I said, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is… and it was. People who claimed that the HD5870 was twice as fast as the GTX285/HD4890 will be very disappointed. Not even close. In fact, even the HD4870X2 and GTX295 are faster than the HD5870 most of the time. As I said, it didn’t seem realistic to expect such a performance boost at this point. Still, the performance boost is quite nice, and very welcome.

The HD5870 doesn’t seem all positive though. It isn’t an all-new architecture, but rather an expansion of the existing HD4000-architecture. This means that they still have the inefficiency-problem with their stream processors. Anandtech has a nice illustration of the difference between AMD and nVidia in this respect. Also, the chip is larger and more powerhungry than AMD had hoped for. The success of the HD4000-series was that it was a relatively small and simple chip considering its performance. Although, AMD already had some problems keeping the heat and noise down… Despite being much smaller than the competing nVidia chips, their power-to-performance ratio was actually worse. The HD5870 again appears to run quite hot, and the cooling solution is quite noisy. An added problem here is that AMD can’t currently release a dual-GPU card based on this chip.

This leaves some window of opportunity for nVidia. By leveraging the advantages of 40 nm, they could probably meet or exceed the HD5870’s characteristics with a slightly streamlined version of their current architecture. With a complete redesign (which their upcoming DX11 architecture is rumoured to be), they might be able to actually come up with a considerably more powerful solution. The big unknown is whether nVidia will actually manage to take advantage of that window of opportunity. It could be a winner, but it could also be a dud. At this point, who knows?

At least we are slowly getting some more direct information from nVidia regarding their upcoming product. Initially it was rumoured that nVidia might not even make Q1 2010, but now nVidia is giving off signals that they will have something ready before Christmas. Let’s just hope that this ‘something’ is indeed their DirectX 11 hardware… but I suppose it will be.

On another note, Intel has also shown some actual Larrabee hardware running a raytracing demo at IDF, so it seems like they’re more on track than some of those rumours wanted you to believe.

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