Next week, AMD will reveal its top-to-bottom DirectX 11 lineup, with the top three parts heading out to the stores. As ATI Evergreen family of graphics cards is taking its shape as multiple parts that cover top to bottom of world’s PC line-up. As it usually goes, the availability won’t be on the same date, but ATI will do a multi-part launch targeting hard availability in the whole world for the each part.
We managed to learn some interesting details about the top-end, Radeon 5800 series. Unlike some inaccurate publications that toyed with the name "Radeon 7", the Radeon 5000 series is a natural continuation of trend started with X1K series.
The top dog carries the name Radeon HD 5870X2, and we are talking about single-PCB, dual-GPU card that will retail for cool $599. This is still $50 cheaper than GTX280 at the time of its debut [do you remember the outrageous $649?], but bear in mind that this is a top dog part.
For some odd reason, the $499 bracket will remain without a card [the six DisplayPort capable Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity will fill that bracket in]. We expect that slot will be filled with a water-cooled edition of 5870, or more likely – 5870X2 once that nVidia launches their competing products. Afore mentioned Radeon HD 5870 is set to go on sale for $379-399, while the cheapest entry into the 5800 series, the Radeon HD 5850 is priced in the $259-299 bracket.
We expect that the first batch of products will come without any MIR [Mail-In-Rebates], so priced at 299-399-599, but with the launch of GT300, market incentives will go into action and this time around, AMD does not want to stop its momentum and wants to rule the roost. According to sources close to the heart of the company, they want to firmly beat nVidia and establish themselves as the kings of GPU market.
Even though the chip is huge, and rotated at a certain angle compared to the organic package [remember ATI R600 GPU?], the yields for RV870 are really good and there should be a significant chunk of chips coming to the market. According to the sources at hand, TSMC significantly improved the yield from the first batch of chips and that should significantly help the margins on these multi-billion parts. Bear in mind that AMD Graphics e.g. ATI is expected to carry the company in consumer segment until the Bulldozer architecture arrives in 2011, so a lot is expected from Evergreen generation. In a way, AMD plans to recapture the crown it took in 2002 with the world’s first DirectX 9 parts.
Which brings us to the interesting comparison: in the past seven years, nVidia was the top dog for paired versions of DirectX – 8 [GeForce 3] and 10 [GeForce 8800], while ATI was brilliant in DirectX 9 [Radeon 9700] and looks good for DirectX 11 [Radeon HD 5000]. After all, DirectX 11 is being considered as the key API for the upcoming generation of not just the personal computers, but consoles as well. Whoever wins the "Xbox 3" contract, they will build the part upon the features introduced with DX11, and same thing applies to other consoles on the market, only they will use those features using available Open API’s such as OpenGL and OpenCL.
Determination is the key, and AMD wants to beat nVidia badly. The only real challenge AMD faces is the fact that company is rather uneasy when it comes to making custom build parts that are the main reason why nVidia has a firm sales grip on the market: nVidia’s AIBs are allowed to do something extra in hand, such as the recent launch of EVGA’s "World Record Beating" platform featuring world’s first graphics card with three 6-pin power connectors. If ATI overcomes that and allows their partners heavy modifications of the cards 3-6 months down the line, nVidia just might be in real trouble.