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AMD's New Flagship HD 6970 Tested

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the more-pixels-please dept.

Graphics 152

I.M.O.G. writes "Today AMD officially introduces their newest flagship GPU, the Radeon HD 6970, hot on the heels of the Radeon HD 6870 released at the end of October, then the NVIDIA GTX 580 in early November, which is Nvidia's current flagship card. Initial testing and overclocking results are publishing at first tier review sites now. While the HD 6970 is a strong performer and the price point is outstanding for consumers, the GTX 580 retains the flagship crown while the AMD 5970 keeps the single card performance crown with its dual GPUs on a single card."

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Confusing naming (3, Insightful)

Sonny Yatsen (603655) | more than 3 years ago | (#34559936)

These video card naming schemes are just a confusing mess of numbers now. Are the 6000 series better than the 5000 series, or are they parallel series for different market segments?

Re:Confusing naming (3, Interesting)

KillaGouge (973562) | more than 3 years ago | (#34559982)

I agree 100%, I recently purchased an ATI 6850 with my new system, but it seems that the 5970 still outperforms it. They need to either stick with an incremental naming system, or start adding Good, Better, Best next to whatever name they can come up with.

Re:Confusing naming (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560498)

... ..... ...

The 5970 is a dual-GPU card (layman's terms: it's the equivalent of two video cards sandwiched onto a single PCB), and costs nearly three times what the 6850 costs. Now, if you were complaining that a 6850 didn't outperform a 5850, that'd be different...but the 5970 is far more expensive for a reason :p

Re:Confusing naming (3, Informative)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560556)

Yeah, it's really not that confusing. The first number is the generation. So a 6xxx card is newer than a 5xxxx card. But a new low-end card is not necessarily better than last year's high-end card.

Re:Confusing naming (3, Funny)

MadTinfoilHatter (940931) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560634)

...and a 9xxx card is older than either of them. It's all perfectly logical. :-)

Re:Confusing naming (1)

WaroDaBeast (1211048) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560846)

I beg to differ, sir! For those are the Radeon HD 5000 & 6000 series, whereas the one you are referring to is the Radeon 9000 series. ;)

Re:Confusing naming (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 3 years ago | (#34561930)

Yeah, it's really not that confusing. The first number is the generation. So a 6xxx card is newer than a 5xxxx card. But a new low-end card is not necessarily better than last year's high-end card.

Yeah, the first number is the generation - (HD) 4xxx, 5xxx, 6xxx. The second number is the relative performance within that generation - a 5950 will outperform a 5570, for example. The last two numbers are differeniators. The numbers only work within a generation - they do not tell you performance compared across generations.

The only way to compare cross-generation cards is to benchmark them, and then choose based on the merits - power consumption, cost, performance (which depends on the games), etc.

Re:Confusing naming (1)

Immostlyharmless (1311531) | more than 3 years ago | (#34561576)

Except for the fact that the 5850 DOES usually outperform the 6850...just uses more juice to do it.. []

I was really looking forward to the new spate of AMD not so much so. :-(

Re:Confusing naming (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34561722)

I was just using it as an example.

As for the 6970 and 6950, they are AMAZING deals. The 6970 is, on average, only 5-10 FPS behind the nVidia 580, yet it costs roughly $140 less.

Re:Confusing naming (1)

nabsltd (1313397) | more than 3 years ago | (#34563484)

As for the 6970 and 6950, they are AMAZING deals.

As single cards, they are OK, but AMD was suffering badly on tesselation benchmarks, and the 69xx series was supposed to be a lot better. Unfortunately, a pair of 6850s do better on tesselation benchmarks [] than the 6970.

With the 6970 MSRP running $10 more than actual pricing on a pair of 6850s, and the real world pricing of the 6970 likely to be higher for a while until demand is met, you're better off with the older cards. Also, if you are on a bit of a budget, the 6850 doesn't suck as a single card, but gives you the ability to upgrade later by adding a card.

Re:Confusing naming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34562118)

At least they don't name them after random felines in no discernible order.

Re:Confusing naming ... Good, Better, Best (1)

Cassini2 (956052) | more than 3 years ago | (#34561386)

AMD/ATI have already tried the good better best system. The problem lies with the marketers always requiring new words for "best". For example, ATI first started with the "Graphics Solution" video card. After a few years, it became the "VGA Wonder" card, which was replaced by the "VGA Wonder Plus" card. After a few more years, ATI was selling an "Ultra Pro Turbo". When ATI started selling video cards with three different words for "best" and none for "graphics", it became obvious that a different naming scheme was required.

AMD broke Good, Better, Best marketing for the entire computer industry, and no one is looking back.

Re:Confusing naming (1)

tomz16 (992375) | more than 3 years ago | (#34563428)

ATI's main competitor is Nvidia. In recent history they have :
- Named several different cards the same thing (e.g. 8800 GTS)
- Named the same card several different things (e.g. 8800 GT)

Re:Confusing naming (2)

space_jake (687452) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560006)

Sort them by price descending on Newegg. But yes the 5970s seem to outperform the 6870s and (I haven't RTFA yet) 6970s.

Re:Confusing naming (1)

macdude22 (846648) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560104)

Seems to be the case but the 5970 was ATIs previous flagship dual GPU card, and now the 6970 is ATIs flagship single GPU card. It's incredibly confusing.

Re:Confusing naming (1)

WaroDaBeast (1211048) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560972)

I would say it is confusing, since they kind of went back to HD 3000 series for their current generation's naming scheme, save for dual GPU cards, which bear a 9 as their second digit instead of getting the X2 suffix.

They really didn't need to do that. :-/

Re:Confusing naming (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34560018)

My mum asked me if the Nintendo 64 was the same power as the Commodore 64 :-)

Re:Confusing naming (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | more than 3 years ago | (#34561566)

Well, I do know that the Xbox 360 is more powerful than both. (Disclaimer: The Nintendo 64 still has the best games).

Re:Confusing naming (1)

Steve Max (1235710) | more than 3 years ago | (#34562380)

And the Amiga 4000 is over 10 times more powerful than the Xbox 360.

Re:Confusing naming (1)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560022)

due to OEM's manufacturers use higher model numbers but sometimes the chip is last generation or gimped. reason is that you make GPU's you're going to get a lot of chips that don't pass all tests. the best ones get the higher model numbers and highest prices. the rest have circuits disabled and go to lower performance and price tiers. this is why sometimes previous generation cards beat newer generation cards in performance

Re:Confusing naming (2)

Sonny Yatsen (603655) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560072)

I understand that, but that isn't what I meant. I was wondering why they couldn't make a naming scheme that makes sense.

Re:Confusing naming (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560242)

It really can't make much more sense than this.

Each generation (first number) has different features.

A good example.

Lets say you have a few cards:

Card 1: OpenGL 2.0 compatible, has a performance of [2] on OpenGL 2.0 applications
Card 2: OpenGL 2.0 compatible, has a performance of [4] on OpenGL 2.0 applications

Card 3: OpenGL 2.1 compatible, has a performance of [1] on OpenGL 2.0 applications and a performance of [3] on OpenGL 2.1 applications
Card 4: OpenGL 2.1 compatible, has a performance of [3] on OpenGL 2.0 applications and a performace of [4] on OpenGL 2.1 applications

Card 5: OpenGL 3.0 compatible, has a performance of [1.5] on OpenGL 2.0, [2.5] on OpenGL 2.1 and [2] on openGL 3.0.
Card 6: OpenGL 3.0 compatible, has a performance of [3.5] on OpenGL 2.0, [3.5] on OpenGL 2.1 and 5 on OpenGL 3.0

Figure the the performance ratings have some arbitrary unit, and higher means better. How do you name this cards logically, and informatively in a manner simpler than what is already done? It's about as simple as it gets. The first number says which cards you can do a straight comparison with, the remaining numbers give comparisons. The larger the difference in the first number, the less accurate comparisons of the remaining numbers will be.

Or they could make a nice 10 digit number - each digit giving a rough performance rating covering the most recent 1-2 minor revisions in OpenGL or DirectX and one each for the major revision aggregate performance. That wouldn't be easier to read for most people, and it'd still miss a lot of data.

Re:Confusing naming (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560784)

Or they could use Alpha-numeric. A = Direct X 10 B= Direct X 11 ect, Then a 4 digit number in increments of 5 instead of their stupid 5750/5770/5850/5870 ect. They are leaving out a bunch of numbers they could use.

Re:Confusing naming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34563216)

Look how long your fucking post is. Just name it like the old GeForce cards with 1, 2, 3, whatever indicating a better card.

Re:Confusing naming (2)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560300)

It does make sense.

Anything starting with a 6 uses the same basic technology. They may have features disabled and/or use a different number of pipelines but the various parts are extremely similar. The second digit is a sub-version number and indicates which of these variants apply, and the third digit is a per-sub-version speed classification.

It may not relate directly to speed, but it does give a better indication of whether a given chip will have certain features. Speed is somewhat application dependent, and so it's possible that a slightly faster chip from a different family will be slower in some cases.

Re:Confusing naming (1)

nabsltd (1313397) | more than 3 years ago | (#34563606)

Anything starting with a 6 uses the same basic technology.

Only if you mean "generally (but not always) uses the same mask size", because that's about the only thing that stays similar on a AMD "series", especially if you compare everything from the Nx3x to the N99x models.

The 69xx series is radically differ from the 68xx series. A small snippet from the Tom's Hardware review [] :

Whereas the Barts GPUs used to build Radeon HD 6870 and 6850 centered on the same VLIW5 architecture that earned Radeon HD 5870 a place in infamy, the Cayman GPU consolidates functionality into a VLIW4 design, incorporating fewer ALUs per thread processor, but improving performance per square millimeter of die space.

There's more detail in the rest of the review.

Re:Confusing naming (1)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560038)

What about the 4000 series?

Is my 4850 x2 faster or slower then the 6970?

Unless you have some sort of performance chart you can't tell shit.

This is what you get when the marketing department decide how to call a card. A fucked up world, where you never know what you get.

Re:Confusing naming (1)

Dracos (107777) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560224)

This is what you get when the marketing department decides what to call anything.

FTFY. I think.

Re:Confusing naming (1)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560240)

there is no silver bullet here.

name them by clockspeed, no, doesnt work either, see pentium 4 vs athlon XP, and dont get me started on shadernumbers etc..

name them by shadercount/buswidth, once again, doesnt work, an ATI shaders != nvidia shader

name them by the number of 3dmarks they score, doesnt work, 3dmark isnt representative of most games and might be biased towards some type of hardware

So the same applies here as it does when buying anything, do some research before you buy, car analogy time, would you buy a mazda 323 (ok, the current model is called the 3, but meh) over a BMW 320 because it is 3 better?

Re:Comparing video cards fairly (1)

DocSavage64109 (799754) | more than 3 years ago | (#34562660)

Parent post is quite correct in pointing out the flaws in simple comparisons with modern video cards. Definitely do lots of research, but you also have to make sure you aren't looking at biased sites. I happen to trust to be fairly neutral and accurate in their methodologies.

Re:Comparing video cards fairly (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34563482)

Their "apples to apples" comparisons alone make their reviews worth reading...not to mention their amazing forums [] . In case anyone else is on there, I can be found posting under the name "Pojut". I usually post in the Computer Audio, Video Card, Case Mod, and General Gaming sections, but I lurk everywhere else.

Re:Confusing naming (4, Informative)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560584)

Unless you have some sort of performance chart you can't tell shit. [] gives a pretty comprehensive overview of just about every video card out there... this new AMD/ti video card will probably be added within the next few days. It's a great starting point before heading over to [] or [] to read about all the details, caveats, and more comprehensive benchmark results.

Also, it tends to be the only good resource out there when trying to make comparisons between different market segments (what notebook GPU could keep up with my desktop GPU?) or completely different generations (would this cheap embedded GPU actually be a decent upgrade from my ancient media player box?)

Re:Confusing naming (1)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560850)

According to my 4850 x2 if about 1-2% faster then the 4850.

I beg to differ.

Re:Confusing naming (1)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 3 years ago | (#34562756)

Yeah, the benchmark doesn't seem to use SLI.

And since there are many ways to split the workload over multiple GPUs with different impacts on performance depending on your content, it's probably best to just leave it off for their general benchmark.

So you could use their number to quantify the performance of a single core, and then try to figure out what the multiGPU scaling factor is with your particular settings.

Re:Confusing naming (1)

Beezlebub33 (1220368) | more than 3 years ago | (#34563432)

I second There really is no way that a non-expert can spend the time really understanding all the different models, their differences, strengths, weaknesses, etc, so listen to (hopefully independent) people who make it their business to understand. Periodically, Toms Hardware runs a graphic card comparison called, naturally, 'Best Graphics Cards for the Money'. The latest was in November. The last page of the article has a chart of different cards and ranks them. Go with that.

Re:Confusing naming (1)

tibman (623933) | more than 3 years ago | (#34561994)

They aren't labeled by performance but by iteration and then performance. You could have a later iteration with less performance in some situations. If the marketing department was in charge, each card would be called Xtreme Surpra 9000 with no relation to previous cards in the title.. it would be worse.

Re:Confusing naming (1)

InEnacWeTrust (1638615) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560042)

6000' are an design evolution from the 5000', (not a radical change). in each series there are products for different market segments. So you'll have some higher end 5000 series products outpacing lower end 6000' products.

Re:Confusing naming (1)

Buggz (1187173) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560050)

Cheggit []

The first digit is the generation, higher is newer is better. The second digit is the series: 8 and 9 are for the enthusiasts, 5-7 are mainstream while 1-4 are budget cards. The last two digits is the relative quality within the same range of cards, i.e. 5970 (series 5 high-end card) is a tad stronger than 5950.

Re:Confusing naming (1)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560802)

For the second digit: 8 and 9 for enthusiasts applied to the 5000 series. For the 6000 series, only the 9s are for enthusiasts, and the 8s are mainstream now.

Re:Confusing naming (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560054)

In general:

Look at the first digit: That tells you the feature set.
Look at the remaining digits, that tells you the performance.

Within the same feature set - higher set usually (always?) means higher performance.

When comparing between feature sets, similar "performance" numbers are usually only slightly slower the next set down.

Re:Confusing naming (1)

macdude22 (846648) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560098)

I'm also confused, it's a full time job to follow these naming schemes. I have a Radeon 5970 and it is some sort of Dual GPU on a single PCB card like the 4870 X2 was. But now the 6970 is a single GPU card? Pick a scheme and stick with it ATI, I don't have time to play whack a mole with video cards.

Re:Confusing naming (2)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560152)

Honestly the naming/numbering conventions have never really bothered me, because I'm going to look up a lot of reviews before I buy a video card.

And to answer your question yes they are more powerful, but as long as you are comparing apples to apples. 6000 --> ABCD. The A is the series the 6's being the latest and greatest; B is the "class" the launch of the series (A) there will be an 8 and a 5(IIRC) 8 being more powerful than the 5 and then later they will add a 9, 7, the 9's being two of the 8's glued together and the 7 being have about 90% of the power of the 8 but cost about 66% as much and a 3(which isn't really for gaming, just video); C is usually a 5 or a 7 and that is low and high. D is always a zero.

That's the basics of the naming/numbering conventions of ATI/AMD video cards, I make NO claims of accuracy of that but it does reinforce my previous statement of don't worry about it and look up the damn reviews.

Re:Confusing naming (2)

hokiealumnus (1905472) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560254)

For comparison purposes, AMD has increased the 'hundreds' number by one. In their product tiers for the new generation (roughly speaking), 69xx = 58xx and 68xx = 57xx This is definitely a change from the last three generations, where the top-of-the-line were 38xx, 48xx and 58xx. Those were ATI though and now it's AMD, so they did make a numbering change when they took over. Another change will be the new dual-GPU card, which will is rumored to also be a 69xx number, where previously, the 59xx was dual-GPU only. It's a bit confusing, but not too bad once you know what to look for. The 5970 is still the fastest GPU on the market, but it's a dual GPU card and is rumored to be replaced with another dual GPU card in the 1st quarter of 2010. The GTX 580 is currently the fastest single-GPU card on the market.

Re:Confusing naming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34560534)

In general for both AMD & Nvidia (and also other electronics such as GPS):

First digit is generation.
Second digit is market segment.
Third digit is performance within market segment.

For example, a 6870 is exactly like a 6850 except rated at a slightly higher clock speed.
A 65xx (not out yet) would have less processing elements but the same features.
A 59xx will out perform a 68xx unless the new generation is inherently enough faster to offset the processing elements/clocking difference, or the new features of the 6xxx series are utilized.

Re:Confusing naming (1)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560650)

Ya like they have been crystal clear for years now... sarcasm. These things stopped making sense a long time ago. CPU's gave up on meaningful names long ago also. I remember when AMD was still doing the +2200 thing trying to make literal comparisons to Intel.

Today I don't think it is so much companies trying to advertise to customers is it is companies trying to fool customers into buying into their next product line whatever that might be. You have to do a ton of research to simply figure out what you are looking at.

And to answer your question, no the 6000 series is NOT better than the 5000 series, depending what you are looking for. In every segment the 5000 (last years) cards are FASTER than the 6000 series (this years) card using the same naming conventions. In many cases even if you convert up, say comparing a 50 to a 70, the older are still faster. The 6000 have slightly newer technology and a few more bells and whistles than the 5000 series if that is what you are looking for. I have also heard that the 6000 series doesn't overclock as well either. Anyway this isn't the first time they have done this, nor will it be the last. It really is BS.

Re:Confusing naming (1)

ravenshrike (808508) | more than 3 years ago | (#34562994)

But the 6000 series consumes so much less power than the 5000 series it's not funny. Same for heat.

Re:Confusing naming (1)

bored (40072) | more than 3 years ago | (#34563418)

The 6xxx are in theory more power friendly, which they are, except for the 5850 which has roughly the same performance/power ratio as the newer 6xxx cards.

I picked up one of the 5850's earlier this year for a small PC I was building because its performance/power ratio was far better than any of the other ATI/NVIDIA cards at the time. Nothing currently offered beats it by any significant margin in that regard.

BTW: ATI is just taking a page out of the Nvidia playbook in this regard. For years they just renamed the 8800, first to the 9800 then to the 250. Every time it seemed to get a little slower, but it was basically the same hardware with basically the same performance although it seemed to get a percent or two slower on a regular basis.

Re:Confusing naming (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560696)

It used to be that every time they add a 1000 to the numbers, it means that its a card that has been upgraded to work with the most recent version of Direct X. Now it seems both the 5000 and 6000 series work with Direct X 11. A quick google shows us the difference (its not worth the number upgrade IMHO. It seems to me its an attempt at selling a new series that has minimal upgrades, i.e. more of a marketing decision rather than a consumer friendly one.

This is the first series to be marketed solely under the AMD brand. It features a 3rd generation 40nm design, rebalancing the existing R800 architecture with redesigned shaders to give it better performance. It was released first on the 22nd October 2010, in the form of the 6850 and 6870. 3D output is enabled with HDMI 1.4a and DisplayPort 1.2 outputs.

Ummm, kinda (5, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34561026)

They went more confusing than normal this time around. So let me try and break it down for you:

The 6000 series are the replacements to the 5000 series. As time goes on, the 5000 series will be faded away. They use the same fabrication technology (TSMC 40nm) but are a redesign that is capable of accomplishing more on the same amount of silicon, mostly thanks to redesigned shaders.

Ok clear enough? However the problem is they fucked with the in-generation naming. Previously the 5870 was the highest end single GPU card, now the 6970 is. As such the situation you have is:


In each case the 6000 series part is faster by a reasonable bit, say 20ish%, than the 5000 series part it replaces. All features are supported by both generations of cards they are both DirectX11/Shader Model 5.0 cards.

So the 6000 series is just a minor refresh, getting more out of the same amount of material basically, which is really nice. The confusing part is the change in making. If you buy a 6870 to replace a 5870, you'll be disappointed to find you have a small performance decrease because the 6870 is actually analogous to the 5770 part.

As a practical matter if you already own a 5000 series card and are happy with it, keep it. The new cards are a bit faster but not so much as to be worth buying. If you are looking at a new card, then look at the 6000 series as they give you more performance at a given die size. If you are looking at a used or cheaper card, then maybe look at a 5000 series since people are in fact getting 6000 series cards and dumping their 5000 series.

Either way you have a fully current part, one that supports all the latest graphics tech.

Re:Ummm, kinda (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34563462)

Pretty simple really. Without the desired die shrink, they GPUs arent quite as powerful as they could have been. Admittedly I wish they had fixed the least significant digits (i.e a 6850 is really closer to a 5830, and 6870 is a 5850)

That being said, the naming scheme is not confusing - its the same as its always been. An x800 part runs on a 256bit bus. The x700 parts and below are on a 128bit bus (only the original 9700Pro deviates from this).
Thus the 5000 series isnt going away, only the 5800 series has been replaced at this point. Its now: 57xx, 68xx, 69xx.

Also the upcoming 6990 (Antilles 2011) is named poorly. It should be a 6950 X2 or something (dual gpu design).

Drivers! (2, Insightful)

Bigbutt (65939) | more than 3 years ago | (#34559994)

As long as AMD's driver writers can't come up with stable drivers, picking up an AMD is still a crapshoot.


Actual AMD user here (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34560016)

Haven't had a driver related problem in a while.

Re:Drivers! (1)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560112)

Too true, although this sometimes leads to some rather entertaining bugs.

On Windows 7 systems with some Radeon versions and multiple displays the OS will sometimes switch to a garbled mouse pointer.
In some cases wiggling the mouse pointer between screens will temporarily fix it, while in other cases it's necessary to enable a cursor trail to get a working cursor again. Only a reboot will lead to a more stable cursor behavior (until the bug occurs again).
I've already had to deal with this on several unrelated workstations and while there's a permanent fix for some situations other cases are not so lucky.

Re:Drivers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34563594)

I have a Radeon 4850 and Windows 7 64bit with this problem and I don't even have multiple displays. The graphics also freak out when I am playing a video (Not a game) periodically which has given me a BSOD. I want to like ATi but their drivers still suck.

Re:Drivers! (3, Insightful)

armanox (826486) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560142)

Haven't had issues with ATi drivers since 2007.

Re:Drivers! (2)

ndege (12658) | more than 3 years ago | (#34561180)

Man, I haven't had any issues with ATI either, since about 2004 when I decided to go with nVidia. [ducks!]

Re:Drivers! (2)

ThatMegathronDude (1189203) | more than 3 years ago | (#34563434)

As a counterpoint to your anecdote, every time I buy an Nvidia card (best bang/buck gets my buck usually), I have to deal with awful driver issues.

Re:Drivers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34563538)

So you are still using a 9700 pro in windows XP then? That doesn't do those of us with modern systems a whole lot of good. ;)

Re:Drivers! (1)

Bigbutt (65939) | more than 3 years ago | (#34563620)

Windows 7.

I don't have the specific driver name in front of me, but I'm still getting ati driver blue screens on boot pretty much every time I bring the system up. Sometimes three or four in a row before the system comes up.

Recently getting degraded graphics. Very very slow response. Powering down will clear it but rebooting won't.

Occasionally get black screens. Everything seem to respond ok and I can see the mouse cursor on the other two screens but not the center, login screen. I can power the system down and when I bring it back up, it's working again.

And Diamond MM doesn't support it any more (pair of Radeon 4750's) so I got the drivers from ATI this last time. At least with the updated ATI drivers, I was able to use two cards again. Prior to that, I wasn't able to have the second card installed. Windows 7 wouldn't even come up.

One reason I upgrade from XP Pro to Win7 was the continuing issues with the drivers. I've sent one of the cards back for them to check out back when I first started having problems but they returned it as ok.


Re:Drivers! (2)

hokiealumnus (1905472) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560146)

I've used AMD drivers since early catalyst 8.xx and haven't had problems with any of them that I can recall, FWIW.

Re:Drivers! (1)

arndawg (1468629) | more than 3 years ago | (#34561208)

I've been using AMD drivers for my geforce for 4 years without serious troubles.

Re:Drivers! (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560238)

Unless you are talking about Linux drivers your argument is well outdated.

Re:Drivers! (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560264)

I still get No FrameBuffer errors and flickering in my AMD based video card, which I don't get on my nVidia. I can only expect driver errors.

That, and with notebooks, unless things have changed, you don't need driver hacks to use nVidia drivers on nVidia cards in notebooks, but you do for AMD.

Re:Drivers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34561382)

Things have changed [] . As of like, 6 months ago. Try to keep up.

KMS (1)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560694)

On the other hand, with Radeons I can have KMS and DRI, so nVidia is still definitely out.

Re:Drivers! (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560730)

They are perfectly stable. Either I have gotten lucky for the past few years or you have been incredibly unlucky.

Re:Drivers! (1)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560760)

Yes, but even their closed source Linux drivers have passable quality these days. Robust and with great performance. Video is still a bit shit, though, with some tearing. The Windows drivers are great.

Re:Drivers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34562746)

Not in my experience. If it weren't for the need to run OpenCL, I would drop the proprietary drivers post-haste.

List of problems on Linux Catalyst 10.6 (and before):

1) Randomly locks up. Unfortunately, it has never happened while I have been around. It has always happened while I have been out of the office for several days. Always requires a hard reboot as I cannot get console back (even by switching to a text-only virtual console). Since it is random, I haven't been able to put in a bug report. But this one makes me super mad. I have a lot of state on my system and should not have to reboot for a stupid proprietary graphics driver. (X11, you also get jeers. You should never crash. Or if you do, I should not have to reboot to regain control.)

2) Wierd interaction with xscreensaver. Some part of my screen is almost always uncovered. This morning, the only thing occuluded was the xscreensaver unlock dialog. Rather not have my work and desktop displayed for all to see it. That is one of the reasons I use a screensaver.

3) I have a beef with the driver even for OpenCL, which I need for my work. It requires having X11 installed. ATI, why can't I install the Catalyst driver on a headless compute server without X11? After all, compute is what we use OpenCL for and compute nodes should not have X11 installed.


It's not so bad today (2)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34561124)

Now I'm speaking as a Windows user here, can't help you on Linux. However ATi's Windows drivers are acceptable. They are not as good an nVidia's, but it is mostly minor things or ease of use things, not any sort of major problems. I have a 5870, and have had it for a year now, and it is a stable card. I don't get BSODs or lockups from it. Initially it did have gray screen crashes, but they fixed that about a month in and it has never returned.

I still like nVidia better, and if nVidia's offerings are good when I'm next looking to buy I'm switching back, however ATi is acceptable these days, I don't have reservations about using or recommending them.

Currently they are the way to go if you want lower end cards, or if you want mid-high cards. In the low end, nVidia has nothing current. The 5400 series and so on are the best way to get current graphics technology, just cheap and low power. In the midrange, nVidia becomes competitive, their GTX460 is a great card and competes real well against ATi's offerings. Higher up, they aren't so good. The 470 and 480 are competitive, but run WAY too hot for what they do. Mid-high end 5000 or 6000 series are a better choice. At the high end, nVidia is again competitive the 570 and 580 are good cards, and nothing ATi has can touch the 580.

So depending on where you want to buy depends on which to get. I have a personal preference for nVidia for sure and were I to buy a new card personally today it'd be a 570 or 580. However ATi works fine. Their Windows drivers are good enough that you should be happy.

Re:Drivers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34561334)

What does this diagram tell to you:

Re:Drivers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34561748)

It's not 2002 anymore.

Re:Drivers! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34561898)

-1, troll
Do your jobs, mods.

God FUCK this is an old troll. Almost as old as netcraft confirms it bsd is dying, the mac slow file copy troll, etc.

AMD (Formally ATI) has taken their drivers quite seriously for quite some time now and stablity/performance issues are a long long long artifact of the pass.
In fact, AMD's video drivers have the only crash recovery feature I've ever used that works. In the event a game or other program misbehaves and takes down (Flash 10.1.x I'm looking at you) your video subsystem your screens flicker, and you're right back to your desktop.

Here's an article featuring a preview of their new 'Control Center' interface, more or less the control panel for the drivers, presumably anticipation of the new cpu+gpu products that will be rolled out soon.

In other words 2002 called an they want their troll back. Stop modding this shit up you goons.

MS doesn't seem to agree with you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34562136)

"The labs claimed that the drivers were the most reliable"

Re:Drivers! (1)

dookiesan (600840) | more than 3 years ago | (#34562166)

As a counterpoint to the other replies that say they have no driver issues : I have a Lenovo laptop with some ATI card and it BSODs when an external monitor is connected. It's the ATI drive that is crashing, and I have updated it.

The laptop is close to two years old though, so maybe they are better now. I'll never find out...

Re:Drivers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34563186)

I bought a 5870 earlier this year, it was my first and last ATI card. I have had unending number of issues ranging from mouse trails on the desktop, crashing flash videos, grey-screen-of-death, colored-bars-of-death, etc and so forth. Any one of this issues you can google and discover hundred+ page threads of discussion on going back years. These are not hardware faults. Some (the GSOD crash) even promise to be resolved by a hotfix or the next driver release, but the problem never seems to go away.

Additional coverage (2)

MojoKid (1002251) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560094)

HH has a ton of datapoints and additional coverage on the new AMD GPUs: [] - Fill rate and memory bandwidth goes to AMD, while Tesselation (for DX11) advantages are strong in NVIDIAs architecture.

Excellent... (5, Funny)

tygerstripes (832644) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560118)

Just what I need to get my PC through a cold winter.

Linux Support? (3, Interesting)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560144)

After a terrible Linux driver experience a few years ago with AMD, I switched to NVidia and have been fairly happy ever since. But these latest cards have me thinking of switching back on my next upgrade. How is the AMD Linux driver?

I currently have two NVidia cards driving three monitors; does anyone have experience doing the same thing with the AMD driver?

Re:Linux Support? (3, Informative) (771982) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560348)

I have a 5770 driving three monitors on Kubuntu and everything works as you would expect. Of course, I did have to pay an extra $100 for the active DisplayPort-to-DVI adapter...

Re:Linux Support? (2, Informative)

Per Wigren (5315) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560524)

Does "everything" include hardware accelerated video playback, multichannel LPCM-audio over HDMI and 64-bit support?

I haven't looked at the state of AMD video card support in Linux for a while but as recently as a couple of years ago, NVidia was the pretty much the only usable option for media centers.

Re:Linux Support? (4, Insightful)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34561014)

Hardware acceleration is available for both AMD and NVIDIA but is largely limited by whatever software you're running. So for example, flash is only accelerated on 32-bit NVIDIA for now.

Generally speaking, NVIDIA still provides a superior driver experience and NVIDIA still have the far, far superior OpenGL implementation. AMD has come a long, long ways but it will likely be a year or two, or perhaps even more, before AMD can really challenge NVIDIA in both performance and quality on OpenGL/Linux.

For the foreseeable future, NVIDIA is still the only sane option for 3D+Linux. Unless, of course, you're the gambling type.

Re:Linux Support? (1) (771982) | more than 3 years ago | (#34561160)

3D acceleration works, video playback works, I do not use audio over HDMI, and it is 64-bit Kubuntu that I am running.

I used to be an Nvidia bigot where Linux was concerned. My last couple builds have used ATI/AMD cards and I would say they work about as well as Nvidia these days, at least in my experience. I haven't done benchmarks to compare performance under Windows versus Linux. But, subjectively, 3D acceleration (the main reason I buy the cards) works fine under Linux, and my 5770 drives three monitors beautifully. YMMV...

Re:Linux Support? (0)

ecuador_gr (944749) | more than 3 years ago | (#34562026)

multichannel LPCM-audio over HDMI ? .. I haven't looked at the state of AMD video card support in Linux for a while but as recently as a couple of years ago, NVidia was the pretty much the only usable option for media centers.

I found your post pretty amusing for a couple of reasons. First, it was quite a while after AMD/ATI had LPCM-audio over HDMI support on their graphics cards that nVidia matched that feature (though they had some integrated solutions). No, two years ago you couldn't have had an nVidia card with LPCM-audio over HDMI on Linux because no nVidia card with that feature existed, but I assume the Radeon HD 4xxx series at the time would work since it supported ALSA. I have not tried it myself though, the reason taking us to the second reason of finding your post amusing. I love my Linux workstation. I can't find anything more efficient than a multi-monitor KDE setup to work on and really hate it that nowadays I have to do much work on a (dual-monitor) Mac due to my job requirements. But I still have a Windows machine driving my home theater. It is already a lot of work keeping it up with all developments so that it can play properly my entire collection of various format media files, DVD, HD-DVD, Bluray etc. Sadly, I know from experience, it would be an almost impossible task for my Linux machines, regardless of hardware. So when you say "the only usable option for media centers" and refer to a Linux machine it sounds at least strange. As much as I love using Linux, it is not just an nVidia card what is missing from it to be the base of a good HTPC. (I assume by "media center" you did NOT mean music center, which is not something hard for a Linux server, otherwise you wouldn't be asking for LPCM over HDMI.)

Re:Linux Support? (1)

Per Wigren (5315) | more than 3 years ago | (#34562828)

I'm pretty sure it was impossible to get audio over HDMI and accelerated video playback in Linux (about) 2 years ago with ATI/AMD, but with NVidia I could at least get accelerated video and "spdif over hdmi" although not LPCM until about a year ago. But yeah, hardware wise ATI/AMD was way ahead.

Why is a Linux media center amusing? I don't care about plastic discs. I rip them, add them to XBMC and put the discs away. My media center doesn't need to play them directly but if the need should arise for some reason I can always just play it in my PS3.

Re:Linux Support? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34560970)

Easy :

Right now, 6xxx cards are NOT supported under linux. AT ALL. Except maybe on ubuntu which gets special treatment and may have beta drivers.
Your best shot will be the vesa driver in X (which obviously sucks), until AMD gets their act together and whips the part-time intern that manages the linux driver, or until the open source driver gets updated... someday

On comparison, AFAIK nvidia drivers tend to be kept up to date, and the nouveau open source driver is getting better at a quick pace (last I checked, it had perfect 2D acceleration for my card (7600GT), including KMS with nicer framebuffer resolutions, etc...)

I bought a new computer with a HD6850 less than a month ago, it works great on Windows but it's useless under linux. THANKS A LOT AMD/ATI

Re:Linux Support? (2)

oranGoo (961287) | more than 3 years ago | (#34561554)

AMD went a long way in supporting linux and it seems that they will stick to it for newer cards (Mobility HD 5650 running stable as a rock on Ubuntu 10.10; with Catalyst Control Center).

Re:Linux Support? (2)

daid303 (843777) | more than 3 years ago | (#34561720)

Really depends on the card, don't buy something random from AMD and expect it to work in Linux.

I have a laptop with a 1720 mobility something card, not a powerful thing. Windows works, but linux the closed source drivers refuse to do anything. And the open source drivers work, until you do anything 3D more complex then glxgears, then they just crash and burn X.

If you want linux support you just better stick to NVidia right now, my desktop uses an NVidia card and stability and performance are the same for windows and linux.

Re:Linux Support? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34561818)

I have experience with both the open and closed source/binary ATI drivers on CentOS 5, Ubuntu 10.10, and 10.04. Both seem stable after hundreds of hours of use, but I tend to stick with the open-source version because of better support for multiple monitors and auto-detection of my monitor's resolution.

I do a decent amount of computational work and visualization of results, but no gaming. All the machines I work on or have built are Opteron or Phenom-based, so the on-board GPU is ATI by default.

Re:Linux Support? (2)

dstyle5 (702493) | more than 3 years ago | (#34562752)

I had issues with my ATI 1650 (yes, a true powerhouse) in Fedora 9 and 10 attempting to use my 24" display or two smaller displays at once. I recently updated to Fedora 14 and decided to try again and much to my surprise I can now use my 24" and 22" display with the old 1650. I'm not using ATI drivers though since they stopped supporting my card a few years ago.

Re:Linux Support? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34563270)

Can't comment about multiple displays, but I can comment about the proprietary Catalyst driver on Linux. It still stinks. Random lock ups requiring system reboot to regain control of the console, weird interaction with xscreensaver, dependence on X11 for OpenCL. (See my comment above in the Drivers! thread for more detail.)

My next card will be an Nvidia. (And I may not wait for this card to reach end of life either. These problems are really frustrating.)


Wondering if jury rigging... (1)

joe2tiger (1883232) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560218)

is a possibility on my laptop. I know it would void my warranty with HP. I have a Pavilion DV6 with a discrete AMD Mobility 5650 1GB in my laptop. If I put in a more powerful mobility card or jury rig a desktop card, would I be at risk of cooking components?

Re:Wondering if jury rigging... (1)

Ironhandx (1762146) | more than 3 years ago | (#34560414)

Jury rigging a good desktop card in there, if you try to get everything to keep up to the pace of the card, yes you will guaranteed fry things.

mod 0p (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34560482)

NNed ybour help! the channel to sign

What's the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34560528)

There are no good games.

AMD...I am disappoint. (1)

DurendalMac (736637) | more than 3 years ago | (#34561442)

Honestly, this is kind of disappointing. The 5870 spanked Nvidia's ass for months while the Fermi hit more and more delays, and even when the GTX 480 came out, the 5870 still had the major advantage of not burning your house to the ground and eating far less power than the competition, and it was only a bit slower for a lot less money. Now, all AMD really has is...nothing, really. It's priced about the same as a GTX 570 with about the same performance and the power consumption/heat gap is pretty well gone. It feels like AMD blew their advantages and now their new line isn't nearly as compelling as the old.

Oh well, I guess it means the 5870s will keep getting cheaper and I can snag one soon...

Re:AMD...I am disappoint. (1)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 3 years ago | (#34561962)

They were stuck out of position on this one. Originally these cards were planned for a 32nm process, but TSMC cancelled it because it was having a lot of issues, so they had to make changes and shoehorn their design into a 40nm process again. To keep the die size down, things had to be cut.

A lot of AMD's lead came form Nvidia making mistakes. The 5000 series was a great step forward, but it looked even better because Nvidia looked so bad. You can't count on your competition to keep shooting themselves in the foot.

If anything the 6900 series is a good indication of the types of things that will be coming in the 7000 series. There are some big architectural changes that were made and others that still have yet to be made. Couple that with a 28nm process and they can provide a similar level of performance at half the die size.

Re:AMD...I am disappoint. (1)

DurendalMac (736637) | more than 3 years ago | (#34562060)

Yeah, I figured it was because of TSMC sucking on the 32/28nm process, but that's a hurdle that Nvidia has also had to jump, although I'm not sure how dependent their plans have been on the die shrink. The GTX 500 line is what the 400 line should've been and it's handing AMD's ass to them on a platter.
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