Articles: Graphics

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Back in the days, in November 2009 to be more precise, the world was taken aback by the performance level demonstrated by AMD Radeon HD 5970 graphics card. The top of the line offering featured a two-chip one-PCB concept and was warmly welcomed by the enthusiast community despite is high price. Although forum dispute regarding its “King of the Hill” status continues to rage on even today, we must underline that in majority of cases reviewed ATI Radeon HD 5970 was the fastest graphics card on the planet. It has always been the fastest single PCIe slot occupant in the graphics department and the point “yes, but it is made of essentially two graphics cards” is irrelevant.

The rumors regarding its successor started to circle the Internet in the mid 2010. At some point the information exchange concerning dual chip solutions from AMD and Nvidia seemed like a behind the scenes PR battle. Who was going to blink first: Nvidia with a pair of then outstanding GeForce GTX 460 chips or AMD with revised branding and newly released sixth generation Radeon HD? The cold war never took off and by the time Christmas season hit the shelves talks shifted towards Nvidia’s mainstream dream-offering – GeForce 560 Ti. But, as always in a good blockbuster story, AMD was just about ready to launch a counter offense.

Please welcome the newest and meanest kid on the block - AMD Radeon HD 6990 graphics card. And please, be nice to it. If it is even half as good as its predecessor, it is going to be on top of the game for at least 18 months straight, but before we throw some benchmarks at it, let’s see what it is made of, shall we?

AMD Radeon HD 6990: a Pair of Diamonds or Just Brand New?

We say that we don’t care what it is made of, but in reality people who buy a $300+ piece of hardware actually know quite a bit about it and some want to know even more. Let us check out the general stats for AMD Radeon HD 6990 graphics card and compare it to Nvidia GeForce GTX 580 as well as ATI Radeon HD 5970 offerings.

As it turns out, besides its Antilles brand name, the chip itself can’t boast anything particularly special. The VLIW4 shader architecture is used as previously seen with other Radeon HD 6x00 series based solutions (ATI Radeon HD 6800: Generation Next?). According to AMD, the refined shader arrangement better addresses current and future workloads aimed at GPU part of your system.

The computing power that AMD Radeon HD 6990 capable of is astonishing and is marked at around 5.1 TFLOPs for single precision FP32 calculations and 1.27 TFLOPs for double precision FP64 workloads. If you are into big numbers, then 3072 ALUs is definitely a cool feature for you, although it is still a bit shy of the 3200 shader processes incorporated previously in ATI Radeon HD 5970 flagship product. Couple that with 192 texture units and 4 GB of GDDR5 boasting 5.0 Gbps data throughput and you are going to end up with a true masterpiece.

So, what Radeon HD 6990 really is: a breath-taking revolution or a logical evolution? Well, it may be really hard to judge just yet, as we have only seen the theoretical part. Let's waste no time and see for ourselves, what really lies behind the enormous black and red exterior.

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