The launch if Nvidia Corp.’s GeForce GTX 400-series graphics boards is getting closer and it looks like ATI’s add-in-board partners are gearing up for this launch just like Nvidia’s allies. At least three manufacturers of graphics cards are preparing to release factory-overclocked ATI Radeon HD 5970 graphics boards with 4GB of memory, which will raise performance bar for high-end accelerators.
Asustek Computer seems to be the first company that decided to create a higher-performance version of the Radeon HD 5970 graphics board. Asus Ares graphics card features two ATI Radeon HD 5870 graphics processors (with 1600 stream processors) running at 850MHz with 256-bit bus and 4GB of GDDR5 memory running at 4800MHz. The graphics board may provide 20% higher performance compared to ATI’s original Radeon HD 5970. The card features two one dual-link DVI-I connector, DisplayPort connector as well as mini-DisplayPort outputs. The card utilizes proprietary design with two 8-pin and one 6-pin PCI Express power connectors as well as a proprietary cooling system.
Sapphire Technology is another company planning to release enhanced ATI Radeon HD 5970 with 4GB memory. The board will carry two Cypress graphics processors with 850MHz clock-speed with 2GB of 4800MHz GDDR5 memory per chip. The card will also have proprietary design with two 8-pin PCIe power connectors, two dual-link DVI-I and a mini-DisplayPort connectors as well as ArticCooling cooling system with three fans.
XFX Radeon HD 5970 Black Edition Limited will also feature two fully-fledged ATI Radeon HD 5870 graphics chips with original clock-speeds, e.g. 850MHz for the GPU and 4800MHz for 4GB of memory. The most interesting thing about this graphics board is that it has a cooling system that looks very similar to that developed by ATI itself for the original model 5970, which implies that the Radeon HD 5970 Black Edition Limited will not be a proprietary product by XFX, but a solution offered by all partners of AMD’s graphics business unit. The board has six mini-DisplayPort connectors, which seems excessive considering the fact that multi-GPU ATI CrossFireX technology that powers dual-chip graphics cards only supports simultaneous rendering to three monitors. The device requires two 8-pin PCIe power connectors.
Provided that the original ATI Radeon HD 5970 has higher performance compared to Nvidia GeForce GTX 480 graphics board and various enhanced versions of the model 5970 will be even speedier, then prices on such products may reach rather unprecedented values. Still, considering the fact that both Asustek and Sapphire decided to use their proprietary designs of print-circuit boards, it does not look like such graphics cards will become truly mass: they should be by definition very expensive and the manufacturers will try to make them somewhat exclusive as well.