ATI launched the first DirectX 11 parts less than a month ago. The Radeon HD 5870 and 5850 have been very popular due to their outstanding performance and future-proofed features. However, at MSRPs of $379 and $259 respectively, these cards occupy price points that many consumers are unwilling or unable to afford.
With the Windows 7 launch a little over a week away, ATI is preparing to serve the mainstream performance market by introducing two new cards. The Radeon HD 5770 and the Radeon HD 5750 with 1GB of GDDR5 will be introduced at $159 and $129 respectively. A 512MB Radeon HD 5750 version will also be introduced at $109. All cards in the Radeon 5700 series will have two DVI outputs, a HDMI output, and a DisplayPort output. Up to three monitors can be driven at the same time using a single card.
The Radeon 5700 series cards use a brand new 40nm chip previously codenamed Juniper. It consists of 1.04 billion transistors on a 166mm2 die, much smaller than the 334mm2 of the RV870 Evergreen chip used in the Radeon 5800 series. This enables ATI to hit the major pricing sweet spots in the $100-$200 range.
Currently the Radeon HD 4890, 4870, 4850, and 4770 video cards are major sellers in that range. Based on nomenclature alone, a consumer might believe that the Radeon 5770 directly replaces the Radeon 4770. However, the Radeon 5770 is similar enough in performance to the Radeon 4850 that it will start to replace it as production ramps up. Our sources have indicated that there are tens of thousands of 5700 series video cards hitting retailers today, with many more already enroute across the Pacific Ocean.
The Radeon 4770 was the first card sold by ATI that used chips produced on the 40nm process. It will move into a lower price point, while the Radeon 4850 which uses GDDR3 memory will slowly disappear. The Radeon 4890 and 4870 will stick around for a while, but don’t expect them to last beyond the first quarter of 2010 as ATI will continue transitioning production away from the 55nm node. All 5800 and 5700 series video cards use chips built using a 40nm process in Taiwan at TSMC.
ATI also plans to release another high end enthusiast graphics card within the next month. Codenamed Hemlock, it is expected to be released as the Radeon HD 5870 X2. New chips targeted for the early part of 2010 will bring DirectX 11 to the value and integrated markets. The Redwood chip is expected to debut as the Radeon HD 5600 series, while Cedar will be targeted mostly at OEMs.
With many consumers looking for a video card upgrade or building a new system thanks to the launch of Windows 7, ATI is in a very strong position with next generation hardware. NVIDIA is preparing their response, but we will have to wait for now.