AMD Radeon HD 7970 Launch Review

Product: AMD Radeon HD 7970 Video Card
Company: AMD
Author: James Prior
Editor: Charles Oliver
Date: December 24th, 2011


At the inaugural AMD Fusion Developer Summit in June, 2011, Eric Demers and Rick Bergman looked Rage3D in the eye and promised the next generation of Radeon GPUs would launch at the end of 2011. Two of those three are with us as we move deep into the Yuletide season, with Rick Bergman now CEO of Synaptics, Inc. Before his watch ended, AMD's graphics group put the final touches to their third generation DirectX 11 architecture, which is also one of many firsts - first to DirectX 11.1; first to 28nm process technology; first to over 4Bn transistors; first to feature some genuinely good power saving technology; and the first AMD single GPU product to return to the huge, monolithic expensive die price point of over $500USD - well over, in fact, at $549USD, but still at a die size smaller than the HD 6970 Cayman or HD 5870 Cypress chips.

Under the Southern Islands codename, the GPU core is known as Tahiti XT. The board sold by AMD's Add-in Board (AIB) partners like ASUS, Sapphire, MSI et al, is known as the AMD Radeon HD 7970.

AMD Radeon HD 7970 Specifications:

  • 28nm Graphics Core Next architecture using 4.31Bn transistors
  • 2048 Stream Processors
  • 925Mhz Engine Clock
  • 1375MHz (5.5Gbps) 3GB GDDR5
  • 384-bit Memory Bus
  • 264GB/s memory bandwidth
  • 128 Texture Units
  • 32 ROPS
  • 3.79 TFLOPS (Single Precision)
  • DVI-DL + HDMI 1.4 & 2 mini-DisplayPort outputs (active mDP-DVI adapter included)
  • Supports Fast HDMI and Positional Audio
  • DirectX 11.1 / OpenCL 1.2 / OpenGL 4.2 / C++ AMP
  • 250W Board Power limited by PowerTune
  • <3W Idle power under ZeroCore Power
  • $549USD SEP

Tahiti features a brand new graphics architecture imaginatively called Graphics Core Next, and it is unlike anything from the VLIW Terascale generations of chips that had their roots in the (ill-fated) R400 that led to the Xenos and R600 GPUs, and all the stellar GPUs that followed.

All is not completely rose tinted and peachy, as while December 22nd marks the review date of the AMD Radeon HD 7970, there will be very limited stock in the (r)etail channel over the Yuletide season, even if you possess the deep, deep pockets required for this surprisingly expensive card. More availability will come after January 9th, 2012, when the little brother Tahiti Pro, a.k.a. the AMD Radeon HD 7950, is due. For the rest of Q1 2012, AMD plans to execute their sweet spot strategy with the new Pitcairn and Cape Verde designs filling the HD 7800 and HD 7700 spots as well.