|ATI Radeon HD5570 DX11 Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Bruce Normann|
|Thursday, 11 February 2010|
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Radeon HD5570 Detailed Features
For the first time in the history of the HD5xxx series launches, the latest model does not have a "half-size" GPU. The newest member of the HD5xxx family has the same number of transistors, SIMD engines, Shaders, Texture Units, and ROPs as the Redwood chip, which was released last month with the HD5670. The GPU on the 5770 is probably identical, although it has a slightly different part number (...004 instead of ...002), and some down-rated versions are likely to be used in the future on lower-spec models in the HD55xx series. The small size of the GPU die is critical to the cost strategy that ATI is pursuing with all these products. After some very lean years, struggling to make it in the graphics chip industry, it appears ATI has finally figured out how to make money.
The Redwood die packaging on the HD5570 GPU is a little bigger than half of the Juniper, because the number of interconnects is roughly the same, and it's evident there are a lot of transistors consumed in the other functions of the GPU, besides shaders and ROPs.
The memory specification for the entire HD55xx series is going to be somewhat flexible, although I expect GDDR2 will not be offered. The top model, which we are reviewing today, will be sold with 1 GB of 900 MHz GDDR3, and is fully capable of Eyefinity usage with that amount. As mentioned above, the GPU-memory interface is 128 bits wide with a maximum bandwidth of 28.8 GB/s. That's a major hit, compared to the HD5670, with 64GB/s of bandwidth, and the absence of GDDR5 memory on this card will no doubt be felt in gaming performance.
The K4W1G1646E-HC11 GDDR3 memory chips are sourced from Samsung. They are rated for a maximum clock rate of 900 MHz, and the marketing specs for the card indicate that. Version 0.3.8 of GPU-Z reported correctly that the memory on my sample unit was running at 900 MHz. There's some room for expansion, as 1 GHz parts are available from Samsung, according to the product specs shown here below.
The power section of the HD5570 video card is simplistic, and optimized for size, cost and low power. In this case, all of the dynamic performance scaling is built into the GPU, and the voltage regulators just ride along. I was observing the shader and memory clocks in GPU-Z while using the PC for normal office-type duties, and this card ramped the clocks up and down just as fast and dynamically as the HD5450 card I reviewed recently. That's where the power savings are going to be made with this card, getting it down very quickly to idle power, which is a miserly 9.7 watts.
Looking at the business end of the active cooler supplied by ATI, I found a much simpler and vastly more economic solution to creating that little square platform, located between the four threaded standoffs, which is the actual contact patch for the GPU. The platform is stamped into the copper bottom plate, a manufacturing technique that is made possible by the fabrication method for the fins; they are separate pieces of copper sheet that are soldered into place to form the tightly packed fins of the cooler. I'm pretty sure that the way the GPU chip is mounted on the board makes this little square bump essential, and it's interesting to see how ATI produced it with much lower cost this time around.
The assembly quality is quite good, for an engineering sample. The heat sink was coated with thermal interface material that had the look and feel of premium quality paste. Not that rock-solid light colored plastic that usually appears on OEM assemblies. When I reassembled the board, I used OCZ Freeze, and didn't see any lower temps while running FurMark v1.70, so it's safe to say that they are using some good quality thermal paste for their engineering samples. The soldering and surface mount component placement was well done, as you can see in the close-up view below, and the overall board layout was well designed, with a rational flow.
Before we dive into the testing portion of the review, let's look at one of the most exciting new features available on every Radeon HD5xxx series product, Eyefinity.