ATI Radeon HD 3800 Series
AMD, which owns ATI Technologies now, had to hurry up with an answer considering the precarious position of the company in the sector of consumer 3D graphics. Under AMD's management, ATI graphics product group's revenues dropped 40% in 2007 from a similar period in 2006 (check out this news story for details). ATI’s Radeon market share had shrunk from 27.6% at the moment of the announcement of the merger of AMD with ATI. So, AMD had to do something to get back on track as soon as possible. A quick announcement of the new RV670 GPU and a release of mainstream graphics cards based on it would have been just what was needed, especially as that GPU had been successfully tested back in August last year, but AMD decided to launch the new ATI Radeon HD series as part of the new gaming platform codenamed Spider. But that platform was delayed repeatedly as AMD Phenom processors could not reach the desired frequencies. The announcement was postponed to November 19, and AMD’s new processors could only reach a frequency of 2.30GHz by that time while the graphics department was still losing its profits. But let’s get back to the RV670, which was released eventually.
ATI Technologies used to be criticized for the confusion in its product nomenclature and this confusion continued even when ATI became part of AMD. RV670-based graphics cards were expected to come under the name of Radeon HD 2950 since the new chip represented an evolution of the R600. Instead, the nomenclature was completely changed and the new series was called Radeon HD 3800 as if based on a new-generation GPU. We guess the DirectX 10.1 support (see below) is not a solid reason for bestowing the status of new-generation solutions on the new graphics cards, but anyway.
The new ATI Radeon cards from AMD are called as follows:
- ATI Radeon HD 3850
- ATI Radeon HD 3870
Here, the first digit means that the card belongs to the third generation. The second digit denotes the family (we’ll surely see Radeon HD 3700 or 3900 in the future) and the last two digits denote the positioning of the product within the family. Thus, 70 is equivalent to the XT suffice and 50 is equivalent to the Pro suffix, but other variants are possible in the future. This naming system is somewhat more elegant and logical than the older one. At least it helps avoid the confusion of suffixes such as XT, XTX, Pro, GT, etc. But on the other hand, the RV670 doesn’t differ from the R600 as much as to be regarded as a new generation whereas the customer may perceive the change of the first digit in the name as an indication of a new-generation product with a new level of performance, which is not true. The ATI Radeon HD 3800 X2 with two GPUs on board is the only new card that can match the performance of a couple of ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT or a single Nvidia GeForce 8800 Ultra.