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Sapphire Technologies, the largest graphics cards maker among the partners of Advanced Micro Devices, has reportedly begun to evaluate next-generation AMD Radeon HD 9970 “Curacao XT” graphics card with select customers. In addition, it turns out that the new flagship graphics solution from AMD and Sapphire will utilize extremely advanced printed-circuit board (PCB).

Pre-production Sapphire Radeon HD 9970 “Curacao XT” graphics card has been sent to select channel partners, according to a short report from Chinese-language Chiphell web-site, some of which stories appeared to be accurate in the past. The current version of the next-generation flagship graphics card from Sapphire uses twelve-layer PCB, which most likely means that the reference design of the product has similar printed-circuit board. At present Sapphire evaluates seven types of cooling systems for the product.

Usage of 12-layer PCB indicates that the graphics processing unit (GPU) either has very complex power supply system, or 512-bit memory bus, or the design of the card is shortened in a bid to make it compatible with smaller PC cases.

AMD Radeon HD 7970 graphics card, which is the current flagship single-chip graphics solution from AMD, utilizes 10-layer PCB. Dual-chip graphics solutions traditionally use 12-layer printed-circuit boards, whereas mainstream graphics boards utilize PCBs with 4 – 8 layers.

An image of AMD Radeon HD "Curacao" XT graphics card has recently emerged on the web. The all new AMD Radeon HD graphics card has two fans, a rather unprecedented cooling solution for a single-chip graphics card by AMD. Besides, the new Radeon HD “Curacao XT” has an 8-pin and a 6-pin PCI Express power connectors, something that clearly points to a high-end graphics solution. Finally, the new board has two CrossFireX connectors and thus supports 2-way, 3-way and 4-way multi-GPU technology.

Cooling solution of the new AMD Radeon HD “Curacao XT” graphics card employs numerous heat-pipes, an indicator that the novelty is rather hot. At the same time, two fans should either offer very high thermal performance or be rather quiet in operation. It is currently believed that the new graphics card has 250W thermal design power.

It is expected that the code-named Curacao XT graphics solution is AMD’s next-generation high-end GPU. AMD is projected to release code-named Curacao and Hainan graphics processing units that will belong to GCN 2.0 family of products in late Q3 or early Q4 2013, according to a media report. The new architecture will have a number of enhancements, but the only thing currently known is that it will come with improved front-end (4 asynchronous computing engines [ACEs], 3 geometry engines) as well as increased amount of stream processors. Both Curacao and Hainan belong to Sea Islands family of GPUs, hence they do not feature advance heterogeneous compute capabilities.

The two chips are expected to be made using 28nm process technology, which is logical, keeping in mind that AMD’s manufacturing partner Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. will only start risk production using 20nm fabrication process in Q4 2013.

The Curacao XT graphics processor is expected to feature 2304 stream processors (36 compute units), 144 texture units, 48 render back ends and 384-bit memory controller. The Hainan is projected to have 1792 stream processors (28 compute units), 112 texture units, 32 render back ends and 256-bit memory controller. Both chips will share the same front-end (just-like current-gen Radeon HD 7900 and 7800 do) with 4 asynchronous computing engines [ACEs], 3 geometry engines, command processor, global data share and so on.

AMD did not comment on the news-story.

Tags: AMD, Sapphire, ATI, Radeon, GCN, Curacao, Sea Islands, 28nm

Discussion

Comments currently: 12
Discussion started: 07/11/13 06:12:16 AM
Latest comment: 07/13/13 11:19:23 AM
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0 8 [Posted by: beenthere  | Date: 07/11/13 06:12:16 AM]
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Sapphire's customer support is done via the dealers, you have a problem and exchange the card, how is that a bad thing?

it eliminates a need for the customer to get ahold of Sapphire, eliminating their need to maintain a global service desk that would then have to rubber stamp RMA's requiring the owner to send in their card in order for Sapphire to "examine" before they send a replacement.

why would I want to deal with the 2 - 4 week turnaround when I can just exchange the card through the vendor?.... vendor looks good in this case as well depending on how they handle it.
4 0 [Posted by: clone  | Date: 07/11/13 07:27:58 AM]
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0 3 [Posted by: wheeljack12  | Date: 07/11/13 06:55:42 AM]
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Next time try staticice.com.au and buy from a reputable e-tailer like pccasegear or arc
4 2 [Posted by: linuxlowdown  | Date: 07/11/13 07:06:07 AM]
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haha i shop at both those store! .. top QTY MSY is good for price.. iffy on service.
3 0 [Posted by: vid_ghost  | Date: 07/11/13 09:03:28 PM]
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Personally I think the "blower" Radial fan is the better design, enabling hot air to be forced out the rear of the case, as it should be.
Now if only they made the fan larger and slowed it down slightly, the noise level might be acceptable.
I've seen Axial fans that protrude past the cards edges in their housings, so can't see why Radial fans can't.
1 0 [Posted by: caring1  | Date: 07/12/13 02:46:58 PM]
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3. 
The thing that seems fishy to me is the ROP count. AMD have reiterated the inefficency in increasing the transistor count of the front end - so why up half now? Unless sea islands [GCN 1.1 bla bla] has a far more transistor efficent ROP this 48 figure is probably bollocks, and as for 512-wide memory? Forget that; it costs a fortune to build - maybe for workstation cards, but desktop? Nopey.
0 2 [Posted by: TopHatKiller  | Date: 07/11/13 09:55:30 AM]
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I'll try to make this short as possible:

Core gfx efficiency is ~230-240sp per 4 rops. Kepler is 224 (counting special function that amd does with shaders). AMD to have the same texture power needs 4 units (256sp)...opposite sides of the granularity coin in their unit setups. Perhaps that helps you understand both Tahiti and 'Hainan' on a very high-level. Yes, extra compute can be good if designed for and used in a manner that gives tangible results and is still a playable experience...but it can also be bloat when it isnt. Anything above their lowest unit count to satiate the core efficiency (tahiti) would not make sense...the first below it that meshes with their core setup structure (1792) could be tailored to a more efficient design with some trade-offs vs. nvidia, not to mention able to be fed with a 256-bit bus within the clock rates of 28nm (if only barely). Again efficiency would be roughly 1111/7000 (think overclocking +-1200/7560 which fits perfectly for both the process tech and ram binning.) 1536 and 1792 are also the same fraction as 6/7...the skus are obvious, yes? Both scale to the upper end of the process with likely clocks of 6/7ghz memory, and there is the distinct possibility 1792 could get close to tapping out all clocks (process,ram speed) within 225w, while being the closest unit count to efficiency (which makes it genius).

As for a 512-bit design...Please, do tell me how 384-bit at 1.55v+/7ghz would be more efficient in any way vs 512-bit and 1.35v/5ghz. Yes, it's conceivably expensive for the pcb, but so is 7ghz memory. Low-speed fat bus is more efficient in every conceivable metric (power, speed, die space) while also being more flexible in realistic designs (2/4/8gb). Hello, 6800 series. Hello 7800 series (vs 192-bit alternatives).

I've long postulated given that such a design (48 rops with 40 or more units depending on how high logic/clock could scale efficiently within 300w) would grant them the pad space for 512-bit on 28nm but it seemed to have been dismissed long ago by most as a possibility.

There are obviously other possibilities for the pcb as mentioned in the article and all are distinctly conceivable. One or more of them is likely correct.
1 1 [Posted by: turtle  | Date: 07/12/13 02:37:11 AM]
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Okay dokey sweatheart shell, I wouldn't necessarily disagree on your tech points; but there is one huge factor your ignoring: price tag. AMD is in a cost saving frenzy [just think of the all the chips they've cancelled/delayed] and utterly regardless of being better they wanna do it cheaper. Every company would like to do bigger & better but they're constrained by economic reality. This is a business they're in, not a fab sweatshop. Tars.
0 0 [Posted by: TopHatKiller  | Date: 07/12/13 09:11:19 AM]
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4. 
Where is it confirmed that Curacao XT and Hainan have 3 geometry engines? Doesn't that mean there are only 3 ACEs? Looking at Tahiti diagram, they seem to have a 1:1 relationship.

http://images.anandtech.com/doci/5261/Tahiti.jpg
0 0 [Posted by: lukesky  | Date: 07/11/13 09:19:37 PM]
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