No manufacturing process is perfect; there will always be variations from the mean. For semiconductors, that means that there are chips that will go much faster than the design, or chips that just don't perform up to specifications. ATI is launching two new graphics cards that use the same chip, but at different ends of the spectrum.
Many gamers will remember the Radeon HD 4830 as a card that brought a lot of features to the table at a lower price point than its more powerful siblings. It was eventually eclipsed by the Radeon HD 4770 and phased out, but not before making a big impact on the market.
AMD's graphics division is hoping to do the same thing with the ATI Radeon HD 5830 graphics card launching today. However, production volume won't hit the channel until next week, which was the original launch target. The Radeon 5830 uses the same Cypress chip as the rest of the 5800 series, but has fewer SIMDs and ROPs units than its brethren. To compensate, the 5830 is clocked 75MHz higher than the 5850. Test cards have been able to hit 900MHz speeds and a memory clock of 1300MHz using ATI's Overdrive overclocking technology found in the Catalyst software drivers.
The performance of the Radeon 5830 is most similar to the Radeon HD 4890, which launched in April of last year. The 4890 currently fills a gap between the Radeon 5770 and the Radeon 5850, both in performance and pricing. However, it is built using an older 55nm process, making it larger and more expensive to produce than the 40nm Cypress chips, which have seen marked improvements in yield rates at TSMC.
Power consumption and fan noise are also much less with the 5830. The 5830 has a Thermal Design Power of 175 watts at load and 25 watts at idle, compared to the 4890's 190 watts at load and 60 watts at idle. The launch is being handled primarily by ATI's Add-In-Board partners like ASUS, Sapphire, and Gigabyte. Each company will use their own boards and cooling solutions, which will lead to greater price variation than is usual. There will also be some 5830 cards bundled with a Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Bonus Pack. The Radeon 5830 is expected to sell for around $239.
“The ATI Radeon HD 5830 graphics card makes enthusiast-level performance even more accessible to gamers, adding another compelling choice to the award-winning ATI Radeon HD 5800 series,” said Matt Skynner, Vice President and General Manager of the AMD Graphics Division. “Cutting-edge features such as full DirectX 11 support, ATI Eyefinity multi-display capabilities and ATI Stream technology position the ATI Radeon HD 5830 graphics card to become a favorite with the gaming community.”
The 5830 can support up to six monitors, but that feature is unlikely to be implemented by board partners. That role will fall to the Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity-6 Edition, which will feature six mini-DisplayPort connectors and 2GB of GDDR5 memory. The company will include two mini-DisplayPort to DisplayPort adapters, two passive mini-DisplayPort-to-DVI (Single Link) dongles, and a passive mini-DisplayPort-to-HDMI dongle.
The TDP is increased to 228W due to the additional memory, which may also boost performance on single and dual monitor configurations. Both an 8-pin and a 6-pin power connector will be needed for the card. The ATI Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity-6 Edition will launch on March 11.