September 23, 2009, AMD’s graphics department announced their new-generation architecture called Evergreen and introduced two top-performance graphics cards based on the new RV870 GPU codenamed Cypress. This chip is the first in the history of consumer 3D graphics hardware to support DirectX 11. Using progressive 40nm tech process AMD’s engineers not only created a monster GPU incorporating 1600 ALUs and over 2 billion transistors but also made it economically justifiable – and even rather inexpensive! To remind you, the recommended price of the senior model of the Radeon HD 5800 series is only $399 while it delivers as much performance as the dual-processor Radeon HD 4870 X2 which had been originally targeted at the premium sector and priced at over $500. Our tests indicate that the single-processor newcomer is indeed capable of challenging the most advanced and luxurious dual-processor solutions of the previous generation.
On the other hand, it is the flagship product that defines the armada but the main battle is fought with smaller ships. That is, the most expensive and advanced solutions are meant to indicate the technological level of the developer but it is more affordable products that bring in the largest profit. People at AMD are surely aware of that even better than us and pay much attention to developing and promoting $200 and cheaper graphics cards that would be affordable for most gamers. We can recall the Radeon HD 4850 as an example: priced at $199, that card beat the more expensive GeForce 9800 GTX and got to be extremely popular. Then there appeared the Radeon HD 4770 model that AMD used to polish off its 40nm tech process. The $200 performance was made affordable at only $100.
And now it’s time for a new generation of affordable graphics cards and AMD follows its strategy again. Just when the Cypress was announced, we already knew about a simpler and cheaper GPU codenamed Juniper and scheduled for October 13.
In fact, ATI’s strategy has not changed since the RV770. First, the company rolls out a high-performance core. Then it begins to promote dual-processor solutions based on the core into the sector of premium solutions for enthusiasts. And after that, it develops a cheaper GPU or GPUs for the mainstream market. In the first quarter of the next year there will appear even cheaper chips, codenamed Redwood and Cedar, while the Juniper was indeed released on October 13. This chip is going to reinforce AMD’s position in the sector of gaming graphics cards and HTPC-oriented solutions priced at $100-160.
As you may have guessed, we will be testing Juniper-based graphics cards today. We will see if the Radeon HD 5700 series can carry on the glorious tradition of the Radeon HD 4850 and HD 4770 and reach a new performance and functionality milestone in the sector of affordable graphics cards.