Sapphire’s Toxic HD7970 is a Monster: Record Clocks, 6GB GDDR5 Memory
Even though AMD launched Radeon HD 7970 back in December 22, 2011, it took Sapphire months to perfect their completely custom design in order to create the ultimate HD 7970: Meet the new Sapphire Toxic HD 7970.
If you're a graphics maker, your goal is to ship as much units as possible, as soon as the GPU which powers your card is hot. In case of Tahiti XT, AMD released the Radeon HD 7970 powered with 3GB GDDR5 memory on December 22th, 2011 and made a retail debut on January 9th, 2012. Second product powered by the Tahiti Pro chip was Radeon HD 7950, also equipped with 3GB GDDR5 memory.
These reference parts were joined by multiple graphics makers taking their own spin, offering 3rd party cooling, custom BIOSes, bundles and all of that is nice and dandy, but it pales in comparison to an upcoming monster: Sapphire's top product, Toxic.
We originally took pictures of this card during CeBIT 2012. For Radeon HD 7970, Sapphire took the graphics chip, baseline BIOS and – threw everything else. Custom PCB (Printed Circuit Board) was designed from ground up, putting 24 memory chips rated at 7.0 Gbps, i.e. 1.75 GHz QDR clock speed. This results with 6GB of GDDR5 memory, meaning this is the first consumer and only third graphics card with that amount of memory – Tesla C2070 was the first, Quadro 6000 was second (realistically, these are the same cards, based on same ASIC and memory – but intended for different workloads).
Now the interesting bit about the 6GB of memory and the potential of this card goes beyond gaming. Sans the regular single-card Eyefinity or high-resolution gaming (2560×1440, 2560×1600, 5760×1080, 7680×1600), this card will be cherished by professionals who will finally have enough frame buffer for decent framerates in 4K resolution (3840×2160, 4096×2160). Don't be surprised if this board becomes a favorite not in the world of gamers and overclockers, but rather professionals who don't want to buy professional graphics cards because they need sheer performance.
For example, the memory bandwidth is astounding – Tesla C2070 could only deliver 148 GB/s, Toxic delivers 328 GB/s at default clock, and up to 356 GB/s when overclocked (1.9 GHz QDR clock). This is the highest (stock) memory bandwidth we've seen, regardless of you using a single or a dual-GPU card (GTX 590 peaked at 320 GB/s – 768-bit x 3414/1024).
If you thought memory is special, Tahiti GPU ticks at highest levels we've seen so far. Sapphire took a stock clock of 925MHz and clock it to 1.15 GHz, higher than its competitors from ASUS and MSI. Overclocking capabilities reach the original goal of 1.2 GHz, with the (controlled?) leaked sample reaching 1.3 GHz, massive 40.6% higher than original clock. On AIR!
To see how Sapphire reached amazing clocks, a closer inspection of power regulators. Engineers went with 11-phase (8+3) VRM consisting out of two 8-pin Astron PEG connectors (375W max. draw, 150+150+75W) connecting to sixteen DirectFETs (by International Rectifier from California) and sixteen solid-state chokes. The power regulation is better than what we have on most of motherboards on the market, and it goes beyond saying that this should by far be the fastest HD 7970 board to date.
Naturally, all that power is nothing if you cannot cool down the components, and here is where Sapphire excels. The heatsink combines two 80mm fans, four thick heatpipes connecting to a vapor chamber. Thus, Sapphire went for the jugular and combined the most efficient cooling methods.
The back of the board features the conventional two DVI's (leaked picture shows a Dual-Link DVI switch, so you can probably chose between one and two DVIs), full-sized HDMI 1.4a 3GHz and two DisplayPort 1.2 ports.
Price is not known, but we would expect to see anywhere between $150-200 premium over the current HD 7970. After all, this board is a completely custom product and comes with 100% more memory than the original cards.