AMD has generated significant buzz about ATI’s Eyefinity features. The idea is simple – to enable easy multiple monitor usage on any configuration, moving from high-definition to “eye-definition”. HD 5800 cards come equipped with upto 6 outputs (for a special version called HD 5870 SIX) – to 6 display panels, with a maximum of 24 panels in CrossfireX mode. Games like HAWX, the upcoming DX11 Dirt 2 have been demonstrated as running smoothly maxed out on resolutions in excess of 7680×3200! That gives you an idea on how powerful the HD 5800 products really are. Most members of the 5000 series will come with 3-4 display outputs.
AMD has tied up with Samsung to release panels specifically supporting Eyefinity – featuring ultra thin borders and flexible stands. While it is undoubtedly a whole lot of fun to be surrounded by displays, Eyefinity comes off as more crazy than practical. But there is no doubt this is the future, and with dropping prices of LCD monitors, who knows, arrangements such as 3×1 can be a practical solution for the average household. Furthermore – Eyefinity is beneficial for more than just gaming. Multitaskers will appreciate the option to use more than two displays, as will artists. As photography and cinematography have provided footage/images well past the 2 MP full HD resolution, we never really get to see the entire picture. Eyefinity makes that possible. The upcoming RED Epic cameras will record footage at up to a 28K resolution (i.e. >250MP). It doesn’t make as much sense editing 28K footage on a 2K monitor, right?
Complete details on ATI Eyefinity available at AMD’s Press Release.
Rest of the Evergreen family
AMD is expected to release the entire family, from top to bottom, on 22nd/23rd September (except Hemlock). Information is still sparse on the other products apart from Cypress. Juniper is expected to be next in line with virtually identical specifications to the HD 4800 series, with a smaller die and a 128-bit memory interface ( though mated to faster GDDR5 memory). Hemlock, the flagship dual-Cypress product, will be launched sometime in October. There have been several rumours regarding the nature Hemlock (rumoured to be HD 5870 X2). The most voiced rumour is SFR (Scissor or split frame rendering). In the past, Crossfire/SLI have used AFR (alternate frame rendering) solutions – which means frame 1 is rendered on GPU 1, frame 2 on GPU 2, frame 3 on GPU 1, and so on… This led to problems such as micro-stuttering and obvious inefficiencies because the entire frames with all assets were rendered twice over. With SFR, the desired output is split into two or more sections, so each GPU takes care of certain areas of the output. As a result, with SFR, greater than 100% efficiency is a possibility. The folks at Chiphell have also been insisting Hemlock is a single-package / dual-die MCM product.
Nvidia plans to demonstrate its competitor – the GT300 – by the end of the month. However, this is all that Nvidia can respond with for the time being. GT300 is expected to hit stores in “December, at the earliest”, by when ATI will be well on their way to Evergreen/Cypress die shrinks. We can expect severe price cuts for Geforce GTX 200 products (as well as rebrands), till then. One might suggest ATI don’t even need to release Hemlock till GT300 hits stores.
The HD 5000 series is looking like a formidable product family at this point. Complete details and retail availability are less than 2 weeks away.