AMD unveils new family of GPUs

AMD has officially unveiled its new family of GPUs, along with details of aggressive pricing that represents a bold challenge to Nvidia.

AMD unveils new family of GPUs

The ATI Radeon HD 3800 series was formally announced yesterday, the first day of the company’s “Benchmarkfest” in Warsaw, and chips are due to be made immediately available to graphics card manufacturers in two flavours: the mainstream HD 3850 and the beefier HD 3870.

The new GPUs are built to the DirectX 10.1 standard, natively supporting a greater range of routines and effects than existing cards – but they don’t represent any great advance in rendering rates. AMD estimates that a 256MB 3850 is some 10% slower than the company’s existing top-end card, the Radeon HD 2900XT, and even in the manufacturer’s own benchmarks a 512MB 3870 only just pulls ahead.

The company is instead focusing on value for money: AMD estimates cards based on the HD 3850 and HD 3870 chips will retail for around £125 and £160 respectively, compared to £230+ for the older card.

Richard Huddy, AMD’s Worldwide Developer Relations Manager, explained: “We chose not to spend the last eight months developing a new high end chip: instead, we’ve focused on bringing the high end to the masses.”

AMD claims a dramatic improvement in bang-per-buck has been achieved principally by shrinking the physical size of the chip, a refinement which involved moving from the 80nm process used in the HD 2900XT to a 55nm process. The memory bus has also been halved in width, to 256 bits, an economy which has been offset by the use of faster internal RAM.

Though AMD wouldn’t discuss the future of the HD 3800 range, the new process draws less power and runs cooler than the HD 2000 range, suggesting the range could easily be extended to include both top-end and mobile parts. Look for full reviews in PC Pro soon.

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