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Graphics Software Hardware

An Early Peek At AMD's Radeon HD 4870 X2 148

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the soon-we'll-be-back-to-external-video-cards dept.
Dr. Damage writes "AMD has quite a hit in the Radeon HD 4000 series. Coming up next is a product code-named R700, a high-end graphics card based on two 4870s paired together. TechReport has a preliminary look at how the card — to be called the Radeon HD 4870 X2 — performs. Nvidia could have one heck of a fight on its hands."
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An Early Peek At AMD's Radeon HD 4870 X2

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  • Any idea if the radeonhd driver will be in a usable state for these? Or does nVidia still lack competition on the Linux front?

    • Re:radeonhd driver? (Score:5, Informative)

      by MostAwesomeDude (980382) on Monday July 14, 2008 @02:31PM (#24184585) Homepage

      By the time they ship, we might have released working 3D drivers for these, through xf86-video-ati and xf86-video-radeonhd. Can't guarantee anything, though, since we don't even have the documentation, but I do know that there's been some NDA work going on already.

      And yes, I AM a Mesa dev. :3

      • Re:radeonhd driver? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Evangelion (2145) on Monday July 14, 2008 @02:56PM (#24184999) Homepage

        Is there a place that has the current state of the Radeon support in the various drivers lined up that's possible for someone who isn't a developer to make sense of?

        When I was putting together my current box last week, trying to figure out which card was better to get was a pain when it came to the AMD hardware. I ended up getting the GTX 260, because it was the best performing card that fit into my budget and I knew it would work fine under Linux.

        I couldn't make any sense of the state of the drivers for Radeon hardware. I gathered that the radeonhd driver was the actively developed one, but RV7XX hardware wasn't listed as supported [x.org]. The latest catalyst drivers [ati.com] didn't list support for the 4850/4870 either, so hearing that both drivers have working 3D support for a card not yet released is... not really odd, but the contradictions are symptomatic.

        • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Radeon Driver Feature Matrix [x.org]

          The RV700 are similar to R600 series, so the rightmost columns apply to RV700 too.

        • Phoronix [phoronix.com] is a very Linux oriented news site, which also follows closely various development in both radeon opensource drivers, in geforce nouveau project, and the official binary drivers from ATI and nVidia.

          radeonhd.org [radeonhd.org] is a sister site they've put up, which more specifically hold news about both drivers and links to specific ressources.

          Every once in a while, they do some benchmarks and thus you can have an idea about how these drivers perform.

      • What about DRI support for the R600 cards?
    • Or does nVidia still lack competition on the Linux front?

      They still have Intel to deal with though. Granted, Intel's graphics cards are usually lower end than nVidia and ATI's cards, but even with nVidia you still have to configure things, with Intel its simply install it and it works.

    • by KaeseEs (1228292)
      If you're going to be using the open-source drivers, there is no point in getting a new expensive card because you aren't going to get decent 3d performance anyways; if you're worried about VRAM, grab the cheapest discrete card you can find, and otherwise stick with integrated graphics.
    • by DrYak (748999)

      4870X2 has already been supported for a week [phoronix.com] (for 2D only) by both open source drivers, thanks to the Atom-Bios support.
      For 3D see what the Mesa developer said a couple of posts above.

      The Windows Catalyst and the Linux fglrx share a lot of common code and AMD has pledged to make efforts to keep quality in the Linux drivers.
      The HD3000 has seen a very quick support in the closed source drivers. So probably the HD4xx0 will be supported into Linux fast.

  • 91+ degrees (Score:3, Funny)

    by egnop (531002) <slashdot@dagevos ... g minus language> on Monday July 14, 2008 @02:10PM (#24184271)

    Now that's a nice heater for the winter

    • Heat (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Dracker (1323355)
      As my present location has poor ventilation, I'm quite keen on how my computer influences temperature. I've noticed a somewhat disturbing trend in both CPUs and GPUs in requiring more and more power and really firing up the heat. It looks like this monstrous card will definitely be a room heater. With the exception of laptops, are there any graphics cards available that won't make my room an inferno when I'm gaming?
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        eVGA GeForce 8800 GTS 512. It's a wonderfully cool card. Nearly silent if you manually lock the fan at 55% speed. At that speed it idles around 45 degrees with a well vented system. I've honestly never seen it go above 55 degrees even in Crysis. The fan is just that good in it. The air coming out of it does get a fair bit warm when running the most modern games, but I've found that your CPU will be putting out more heat than this thing unless a game is made to tax the VPU THAT much more than the CPU.

        I de
      • by argent (18001)

        With the exception of laptops, are there any graphics cards available that won't make my room an inferno when I'm gaming?/I.

        GeForce 2 was pretty good, or maybe a Radeon 8500?

    • by Paradigm_Complex (968558) on Monday July 14, 2008 @04:03PM (#24186243)
      Apparently families used to gather around the fireplace in the winter. My family? We have a LAN party.
  • by unity100 (970058) on Monday July 14, 2008 @02:12PM (#24184295) Homepage Journal
    So good that there is no reason to choose the 30 cm long humongous and expensive 280 over cheaper 4870x2. what do you think ?
    • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Monday July 14, 2008 @02:17PM (#24184381) Homepage Journal
      Unless you were buying it today, since only one of those boards can be bought by mere mortals at this point. You are correct however that the G280 is really looking like a Spruce Goose for nVidia right now. I guess the 8800GTX really was a hard act to follow.
      • by unity100 (970058)
        tfa says 1 4870 is strong enough to keep up with 280 under many circumstances. and its priced at $300. thats a good price. i guess 4870x2 will be what, $450 ?
        • by jandrese (485)
          High end enthusiast cards like this tend to come at high end enthusiast price points. I wouldn't be surprised to see the 4870x2 in the $500-$600 range.
          • very probably be same with the 3870x2 thingy. should be around 200 cheaper than 280. at least early reviews a few weeks ago were saying that.
  • Quoting from TFA (Score:5, Interesting)

    by unity100 (970058) on Monday July 14, 2008 @02:16PM (#24184349) Homepage Journal

    However, playing with this early sample of 4870 X2 is a vivid reminder that we don't make these choices in a vacuum. The reality is that a single Radeon HD 4870 GPU is nearly fast enough to keep pace with the GeForce GTX 280. Even if you're running a game that lacks a driver profile or simply doesn't scale well with more than one GPU, the 4870 X2 ought to perform awfully well. And when it does get both GPUs going, as our results show, it's by far the fastest single video card we've ever tested. If this is how AMD rolls, it's hard to complain.

    thats good news for gamers' wallets.

  • by zappepcs (820751) on Monday July 14, 2008 @02:27PM (#24184525) Journal

    FTFA:

    That's, erm, considerableâ"beyond the obvious graphics applications, that's the sort of computing power that may one day enable men to figure out what women want.

    If you are a guy and are looking at video cards to figure out what women want... errr, you're doing it wrong!

    Even if you are referring to CPU cycles, they've tried this once, almost unanimously across the galaxy, 42 is not what women want.

    • by ivan256 (17499)

      It's funny you should say that.

      On several occasions, a high end, overpowered video card is exactly what my wife has been looking for.

  • by bugnuts (94678) on Monday July 14, 2008 @02:29PM (#24184557) Journal

    ... the X2's 1600 total stream processors have a peak computational rate of 2.4 teraflops. That's, erm, considerable--beyond the obvious graphics applications, that's the sort of computing power that may one day enable men to figure out what women want.

    Allow me to note that the very idea of plugging a woman's desires into a matrix processing unit is precisely what women do not want. It simply won't work.

    To effectively compute female emotions, you'd need something like a quantum computer where you get all possible results at once (and I do mean simultaneously), usually with lots of yelling, doors slamming, and things being thrown.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by pxc (938367)

      To effectively compute female emotions, you'd need something like a quantum computer where you get all possible results at once (and I do mean simultaneously), usually with lots of yelling, doors slamming, and things being thrown.

      It's noble of you to suggest, but I don't have what it takes to risk my life for science.

    • by pxuongl (758399)
      pfft, a jar with a 50 sided dice in it with some sort of manner to roll the dice and a CCD to read the result would probably best simulate a woman's wants
    • by Tuberous (1325699)

      Allow me to note that the very idea of plugging a woman's desires into a matrix processing unit is precisely what women do not want. It simply won't work.

      To effectively compute female emotions, you'd need something like a quantum computer where you get all possible results at once (and I do mean simultaneously), usually with lots of yelling, doors slamming, and things being thrown.

      With the expected result of there being a "silent treatment?"

    • by Otter (3800)
      I suppose that with enough rendering power, we'll eventually get an alternative that frees us from having to worry about what women want.
    • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Monday July 14, 2008 @03:58PM (#24186145) Homepage Journal

      To effectively compute female emotions, you'd need something like a quantum computer where you get all possible results at once (and I do mean simultaneously), usually with lots of yelling, doors slamming, and things being thrown.

      Sorry, it's not that easy, though you're right - it's a quantum effect. Womanly wants operate according to the uncertainty principle. It is possible to figure out what a woman wants, but as soon as you do, it's no longer true. If you think you're about to figure out what she's going to want, and you may very well be right, then you can't know what she wants right now, so you're still wrong.

    • by wildem (1267822)

      It's exactly like trying to prove chaos theory , but the sheer act of measuring the computation changes the result, so you're always wrong.

    • Women's emotions reflect those of men. In order to know what women want one must first know what men want.

      Given that the human race achieved peace only by pointing nuclear warheads at itself, good luck!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    One bonus about these ati HD series cards is they support audio out through dvi. With a dvi to hdmi dongle it will also output 5.1 / 7.1 digital sound. Great for people who are using their pc as a home theatre hub.

  • by Xelios (822510) on Monday July 14, 2008 @02:36PM (#24184653)
    ATI's release drivers this time around were actually really good, minus one small problem. Default fan speed on all the 4800's was set way too low (20% I think) and the automatic fan speed control isn't working. As a result all the 4800's show some really high temperatures (75C+ idle). There's a work around for this until ATI releases a driver update to fix it (or at least let you set fan speed algorithms in the control center):

    Make a profile in the Catalyst Control Center, make sure ATI OverDrive is enabled and check marked. Now find the profile files in:

    C:/Documents and Settings/{user name}/Local Settings/Application Data/ATI/ACE

    Open the profile you just created in notepad and change these lines:

    <Feature name="FanSpeedAlgorithm_0">
    <Property name="FanSpeedAlgorithm" value="Automatic" /> <--- Change to "Manual"
    </Feature>
    <Feature name="FanSpeedRPMTarget_0">
    <Property name="Want" value="0" />
    </Feature>
    <Feature name="FanSpeedPercentTarget_0">
    <Property name="Want" value="30" /> <--- 30 is quiet, 45+ for gaming
    </Feature>

    My 4870 still idles at 58C or so, but anything over 30% is just too loud for me to have running all the time. Swapping the thermal paste on the GPU has also produced some good results for people.

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday July 14, 2008 @02:51PM (#24184865)

      You have a misconception about what temperatures should be. They should be whatever the manufacturer rates the part at. Not all parts have problems with high temperatures. My 8800 runs at about 90C and has done so for a long time, still works great.

      Have some faith in the companies to test this. They have it run hot because it can run hot without ill effects.

      • by rgviza (1303161)

        >90C
        8800 GTX?

        -Viz

      • You have a misconception about what temperatures should be. They should be whatever the manufacturer rates the part at. Not all parts have problems with high temperatures. My 8800 runs at about 90C and has done so for a long time, still works great.

        I see what you are trying to say. Nonetheless, you must have in mind that the graphics card isn't the only component of a PC. There are also a whole gob of components which may not have such a high thermal tolerance. So your graphics card may work well at very

        • How is turning UP the GPU fan going to help the OTHER components?

      • by SamP2 (1097897)
        >They have it run hot because it can run hot without ill effects. My computer, maybe, but not me. I'd much rather live in a room that doesn't feel like a sauna.
        • by Evangelion (2145)

          Uhh...

          When talking about the temperature of the CPU with respect to fan speed, the conversation is about dissipating a set amount of heat, not "not generating it".

          The energy is still there in the form of heat, it's just a matter of where it's located.

      • by lysse (516445)

        Aren't you buggered if the ambient temperature in your parts goes up 10C, though?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by FreakinSyco (873416)
      You forgot to put a massive disclaimer in that post.

      *Doing this mod disables active fan control on your card. The fan will run at the set percentage of its full speed all the time. Setting that number too low can result in overheating and permanent damage to you card. Mod at your own risk.
    • by Fweeky (41046)

      Is it actually a problem? These things are designed to cope with very high temperatures. My 8800GTS 512 idles at 68c, I can't say I'm too worried about it; by the time it dies, it's going to be getting sand kicked in its face by £30 passively cooled cards.

      • by schnipschnap (739127) * on Monday July 14, 2008 @03:36PM (#24185749)

        In fact, the article addresses this issue, see this page [techreport.com]

        All of the Radeon HD 4800-series cards we've tested have produced some relatively high GPU temperatures, and this early X2 card is no exception. When we asked AMD about this issue in relation to the 4850 and 4870 cards now shipping, they told us the products are qualified at even higher temperatures (over 100 [degrees] C) and tuned for low noise levels. In other words, these temperatures are more or less by design and not necessarily a problem.

    • Get ATI Tray Tools (Score:3, Informative)

      by unity100 (970058)
      Ray Adams is continuing that project. it works great for auto fan speeds. you can even totally ditch catalyst control center and just use ati tray tools.
  • Are there any decent video cards that run without adding another casefan and a 1000W PSU to my system?

    • by unity100 (970058)
      radeon 4850 from the new series. or if you are extremely limited with power, go with 3850 from a generation earlier. these are 55 nm chips, that are very easy on power consumption and heating.
    • I run an 8800GT off a decent 380W power supply. The power on the 12V line is abnormally high for a 380W rating, but still. The 8800GT does require an extra connector. My Antec Solo keeps it respectable at medium fanspeed on the single 12 CM fan. I pummelled it repeatedly over the months and could not get it to hang or do anything erratic, so I'm confident that this power supply is adequate for my setup.

      A problem pervading power supply 'requirements', is that no vendor can require that simple rating. Th

  • They need to get the memory bus width straightened out. The 4870 GPU does 1.2 tfps(Teraflops), the nvidia 280GX something like 933Gfps, but the 280GX beats it handily in framerates.

    This is largely because 280 can get the textures from memory to GPU hella faster (115Gbps vs 141Gbps, 256 bit bus vs 512 bit on the 280) for compositing. As well the 280 has 1GB video memory.

    Given equal memory subsystems the 4870 would smoke it. The memory subsystem on the 4870 is a huge handicap.

    Unless the upcoming dual GPU doub

    • by Skowronek (795408)

      You are talking about 4870, not 4870x2. 4870x2 has twice the memory bandwidth of a single 4870 (duh.) and performs accordingly.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by rgviza (1303161)

        No it has the same bandwidth to each GPU. They don't share texture memory. If they did, it would be a crapload faster than 2 4870s in crossfire mode.

        As it is, the 4870s in crossfire edge it out. They alternate frames and use discrete memory allocated to the individual GPUs for textures. It's a pair of RV770 GPU's with the same problem on one PCB.

        4870's that aren't memory starved will smoke this, like I said in the last post. This card is still memory starved. It's 2 256 data paths, one to each GPU. The auth

        • by Splab (574204)

          Wrong.

          Read the article, the 4870x2 will come with 2GB memory giving it an effective of 1GB since they need to duplicate it.

  • Even ignoring Radeon, it sounds like Nvidia has enough problems: http://www.electronista.com/articles/08/07/09/nvidia.g84.g86.faulty/ [electronista.com]

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