AMD Radeon HD 7790 Review Feat. Sapphire: The First Desktop Sea Islandsby Ryan Smith on March 22, 2013 12:01 AM EST
- Posted in
- Radeon HD 7000
In an industry that has long grown accustomed to annual product updates, the video card industry is one where the flip of a calendar to a new year brings a lot of excitement, anticipation, speculation, and maybe even a bit of dread for consumers and manufacturers alike. It’s no secret then that with AMD launching most of their Radeon HD 7000 series parts in Q1 of 2012 that the company would be looking to refresh their product lineup this year. Indeed, they removed doubt before 2012 even came to a close when they laid out their 8000M plans for the first half of 2013, revealing their first 2013 GPU and giving us a mobile roadmap with clear spots for further GPUs. So we have known for months that new GPUs would be on their way; the questions being what would they be and when would they arrive?
The answer to that, as it turns out, is a lot more complex than anyone was expecting. It’s been something of an epic journey getting to AMD’s 2013 GPU launches, and not all for good reasons. A PR attempt to explain that the existing Radeon HD 7000 series parts would not be going away backfired in a big way, with AMD’s calling their existing product stack “stable through 2013” being incorrectly interpreted as their intention to not release any new products in 2013. This in turn lead to AMD going one step further to rectify the problem by publically laying out their 2013 plans in greater (but not complete) detail, which thankfully cleared a lot of confusion. Though not all confusion and doubt has been erased – after all, AMD has to save something for the GPU introductions – we learned that AMD would be launching new retail desktop 7000 series cards in the first half of this year, and that brings us to today.
Launching today is AMD’s second new GPU for 2013 and the first GPU to make it to the retail desktop market: Bonaire. Bonaire in turn will be powering AMD’s first new retail desktop card for 2013, the Radeon HD 7790. With the 7790 AMD intends to fill the sometimes wide chasm in price and performance between their existing 7770 (Cape Verde) and 7850 (Pitcairn) products, and as a result today we’ll see just how Bonaire and the 7790 fit into the big picture for AMD’s 2013 plans.
|AMD GPU Specification Comparison|
|AMD Radeon HD 7790||AMD Radeon HD 7850||AMD Radeon HD 7770||AMD Radeon HD 6870|
|Memory Clock||6GHz GDDR5||4.8GHz GDDR5||4.5GHz GDDR5||4.2GHz GDDR5|
|Memory Bus Width||128-bit||256-bit||128-bit||256-bit|
|Target Board Power||~85W||150W (TDP)||~80W||151W (TDP)|
|Manufacturing Process||TSMC 28nm||TSMC 28nm||TSMC 28nm||TSMC 40nm|
|Architecture||GCN 1.1*||GCN 1.0||GCN 1.0||VLIW5|
Diving right into things like always, Bonaire is designed to be an in-between GPU; something to go between the 10 Compute Unit Cape Verde GPU, and the 20 CU Pitcairn GPU. Pitcairn, as we might recall, is almost entirely twice the GPU that Cape Verde is. It has twice as many shaders, twice as many ROPs, twice as many geometry processors, and twice as wide a memory bus. Not surprisingly then, the performance gap between the two GPUs at similar clockspeeds approaches that two-fold difference, and even with binning and releasing products like the 7850 this leaves a fairly large gap in performance.
As AMD intends to carry the existing Southern Islands family forward into 2013, their strategy for the mid-to-low end of the desktop market has become one of filling in that gap. This is a move made particularly important for AMD due to the fact that NVIDIA’s GK106-powered GeForce GTX 650 Ti sits rather comfortably between AMD’s 7770 and 7850 in price and performance, robbing AMD of that market segment. Bonaire in turn will fill that gap, and the 7790 will be the flagship desktop Bonaire video card.
So what are we looking at for Bonaire and the 7790? As the 7790 will be a fully enabled Bonaire part, what we’ll be seeing with the 7790 today will be everything that Bonaire can offer. On the specification front we’re looking at 14 CUs, which breaks down to 896 stream processors paired with 56 texture units, giving Bonaire 40% more shading and texturing performance than Cape Verde. As a further change to the frontend, the number of geometry engines and command processors (ACEs) has been doubled compared to Cape Verde from 1 to 2 each, giving Bonaire the ability to process up to 2 primitives per clock instead of 1, bringing it up to parity with Pitcairn and Tahiti. Finally, the backend remains unchanged; like Cape Verde, Bonaire has 16 ROPs attached to a 128bit memory bus, giving it equal memory bandwidth and equal ROP throughput at equivalent clockspeeds.
Moving on to the 7790 in particular, the 7790 will be shipping at a familiar 1GHz, the same core clockspeed as the 7770. So all of those performance improvements due to increases in functional units translate straight through – compared to the 7770, the 7790 has 40% more theoretical compute/shading performance, 40% more texturing performance, 100% more geometry throughput, and no change in ROP throughput. Meanwhile in a move mirroring what AMD did with the 7970 GHz Edition last year, AMD has bumped up their memory clocks. 7790 will ship with a 6GHz memory clock thanks to a higher performing (i.e. not from Cape Verde) memory interface, which compared to the 7770’s very conservative 4.5GHz memory clock means that the 7790 will have 33% more memory bandwidth compared to 7770, despite the fact that the memory bus itself is no wider.
Putting it altogether, so as long as the 7790 is not ROP bottlenecked, it stands to be 33%-100% faster than the 7770. Or relative to 7850, the 7790 offers virtually all of the 7850’s texturing and shading performance (it’s actually 2% faster), while offering only around 60% of the memory bandwidth and ROP throughput.
On the power front, unsurprisingly power consumption has gone up a bit. As a reminder, AMD does not quote TDPs, but rather “typical board power”, which is AMD’s estimate for what power consumption will be like under an average workload. 7770’s official TBP is 80W, while 7790’s is 85W. We’ll have our own breakdown on this in our look at power, temperature, and noise, but it’s fair to say that 7790 draws only a small amount of additional power over the 7770. Ultimately this can be attributed to the fact that while Bonaire is a larger chip, it’s not extremely so, with only the addition of the CUs and additional geometry/ACE pipeline separating the two. Mixed with gradual improvements over the last year on TSMC’s 28nm process, and better power management from AMD, and it’s possible to make these kinds of small improvements while not pushing load power too much higher.
On the note of Bonaire versus Cape Verde, let’s also talk a bit about transistor count and die sizes. Unsurprisingly, Bonaire sits between Cape Verde and Pitcairn in transistor count and die size. Altogether Bonaire comes in at 2.08B transistors, occupying a 160mm2 die. This is as compared to Cape Verde’s 1.5B transistors and 123mm2 die size, or Pitcairn’s 2.8B transistors and 212mm2 die size. For AMD their closest chip in terms of die size in recent history would be Juniper, the workhorse of the Evergreen family and the Radeon HD 5770, which came in at 166mm2.
Moving on, as is consistent with AMD’s previous announcements, the 7790 is being launched as just that: the 7790. AMD has told us that they intend to keep the HD 7000 brand in retail this year due to the success of the brand, and to that end our first Bonaire card is a 7700 series card. The namespace collision is unfortunate – sticking with the 7000 series means AMD is facing the pigeonhole principle and has to put new GPUs in existing sub-series – but ultimately this is something AMD shouldn’t have any real problems executing on. We’ll get into the microarchitecture of Bonaire on our next page, but for gamers and other consumers Bonaire may as well be another member of the Southern Islands GPU family, so it fits in nicely in the 7000 series despite being from a new wave of GPUs.
With that in mind, let’s talk about product positioning and pricing. The 7790 will launch at $149, roughly in between the 7770 and the 7850. AMD will be positioning it as an entry-level 1080p graphics card, and though it’s a 7700 series part its closest competition in AMD’s product stack is more likely to be the 7850, which it’s closer to on the basis of both price and performance.
Against the competition, the 7790’s closest competition will be the GeForce GTX 650 Ti. However with the price of that card regularly falling to $130 and lower, the 7790 is effectively carving out a small niche for itself where it will be a bit ahead of the GTX 650 Ti in both performance and in price. NVIDIA’s next card up is the GTX 660, at more than $200.
For anyone looking to pick up a 7790 today, this is being launched ahead of actual product availability (likely to coincide with GDC 2013 next week). Cards will start showing up in the market on April 2nd, which is about a week and a half from now. Notably, AMD and their partners will be launching stock clocked and factory overclocked parts right away, and from what we’re being told factory overclocked cards will be prolific from day one. Overall we’re expecting this launch to be a lot like the launch of the GTX 560, where NVIDIA did something very similar. In which case we should see both stock and factory overclocked parts right away with more factory overclocked parts than stock parts, and if it does play out like the 560 then stock clocked cards would become a larger piece of the 7790 inventory later in the lifetime of the 7790.
Finally, AMD is wasting no time in extending their Never Settle Reloaded bundle to the 7790. As the 7790 is a cheaper card it won’t come with as many games as the more expensive Radeon cards, but for 7790 buyers they will be receiving a voucher for Bioshock Infinite with their cards. MSRPs/values are usually a poor way to look at the significance of game bundles, but it goes without saying that it’s not too often that $150 cards come with brand-new AAA games.
|Spring 2013 GPU Pricing Comparison|
|$219||GeForce GTX 660|
|Radeon HD 7850||$179|
|Radeon HD 7790||$149|
|$134||GeForce GTX 650 Ti|
|Radeon HD 7770||$109||GeForce GTX 650|
|Radeon HD 7750||$99||GeForce GT 640|
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Death666Angel - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link"pulling 7W more than the 7770, a hair more than the 5W difference in AMD’s TBP"
That 5W is not at the wall though. Factoring in rounding PSU efficiencies, it's very possible that the cards are only drawing 5W more. :)
"The Sapphire card, despite being overclocked, draws 6W less than our reference 7790."
Seeing how the Sapphire runs cooler in Furmark, that might explain a Watt or two in reduced power draw, coupled with the efficiency of the PSU, it might explain three or four even. :)
pandemonium - Saturday, March 23, 2013 - link"NVIDIA has for a long time set the bar on efficiency, but with the 7790 it looks like AMD will finally edge out NVIDIA."
What is your definition of a long time? As far as efficiency standards, I consider AMD to be better for the end result when looking at the full definition and application of the word. See the spreadsheet I created here about 16 months ago to understand what I mean: http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=21507...
silverblue - Saturday, March 23, 2013 - linkYou just called Ryan a "dummy", did you, without even checking the statement further down which reads:
"For anyone looking to pick up a 7790 today, this is being launched ahead of actual product availability (likely to coincide with GDC 2013 next week). Cards will start showing up in the market on April 2nd, which is about a week and a half from now."
If YOU had read the article, blah blah dumb idiot blah blah. As you've not replied to anybody in particular, your mistargeted rants could be construed as being directed toward the staff themselves, so keep it up and you won't HAVE to worry about what AT is reviewing in future.
Bottom line - it's faster than the 650 Ti, it's looking to be more efficient than the 650 Ti, and oh look, both have 1GB of GDDR5 on a 128-bit memory interface, which you seem to have forgotten when you leapt down AMD's throat about the 7790, and when you went on your childish tirade about the 5770's 128-bit memory interface earlier.
As far as I recall, Ryan didn't mention anything about when Titan was available to buy, only that it had launched. Pretty much blows your theory of Ryan hating NVIDIA out of the water, doesn't it?
I'm not sure if I've said this before, and apologies to everybody else if I have, but I'm done with you, full stop. I can only hope everybody else here decides that not feeding the ignorance you perpetuate on every single AMD article would save them time they could be devoting to something far less boring instead.
To the staff - is there anything you can do to introduce an Ignore List? Thanks in advance for your response.
silverblue - Saturday, March 23, 2013 - linkA note about threading - doesn't look to be stepping in consistently, so sometimes it's a little difficult to see whom replied to whom.
CeriseCogburn - Sunday, March 24, 2013 - linkYou got eveything wrong again, and you failed to read the article not I, and you failed to read my reply addressing half your idiotic non points, so you're the non reader, fool.
Now I have to correct you multiple times. And you're a waste.
650TI overclocks and it's only faster in a few amd favor games which are here, of course.
Strike one for tardboy.
650Ti runs fine OC'd too, which it does well: " We pushed Gigabyte's GeForce GTX 650 as far as it'd go and achieved a maximum core overclock of 1125 MHz, with the GDDR5 memory operating at 1600. All it took was a 1.15 V GPU voltage. "
The 128 bit bus - REPAYMENT for you FOOLS SQUEALING prior, what's so hard to understand ?
Did you forget all your WHINING ?
Did you forget your backing up the FAILED theorists with the nVidia dual speed memory ?
You're up to strike 4 already.
" Ryan didn't mention anything about when Titan was available to buy, only that it had launched. Pretty much blows your theory of Ryan hating NVIDIA out of the water, doesn't it?"
NO, so why would it be mentioned if he didn't want anyone to buy it ? Why mention it, that would key in to save for release date, right ?
Instead we get this gem first off in BOLD to start the article: " Who’s Titan For, Anyhow? "
Guess that just crushed your idiot backwards bullhockey forever.
For all you know Ryan mentioned release date anyway.
You're not "done with me", you get everything WRONG, so you'll be opening your big fat piehole forever, that's how people like you do it. Idiot amd fanboys, all the same.
Also a beggar child for extra "control", since you "can't be an adult and control yourself" - please give me an ignore button ! I'm a crybaby who can't handle it !
philipma1957 - Sunday, March 24, 2013 - linkOne question does your 650Ti pays for itself? this amd will pay for itself via bitcoin. even with the asics. especially if you heat your home with electrical heat.
Rajan7667 - Sunday, March 24, 2013 - link@form @LinusTech This is new New app for intel lovers. http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/gamers/vip-... …
colonelclaw - Sunday, March 24, 2013 - linkTo Ryan and staff
As a long-time admirer of AnandTech, I always enjoy reading pretty much every article you post, and have immense respect for all your writers.
However, I am now utterly fed up with the direction the comment discussions have taken. The general pattern is they start out as debates and end up as pretty nasty personal attacks that have nothing to do with the articles. You may say 'don't read the comments', to which I reply that they used to be an extension of the articles themselves, and were always a source of valuable information.
It pains me to say this, but if you don't start removing the trolls I will no longer come to this site at all, and I would guess I am not alone in having this opinion.
haze4peace - Sunday, March 24, 2013 - linkI agree 100% and actually sent off a few emails to the staff earlier in the day. I urge others to do so as well so we can put this problem behind us.
KnightRAF - Monday, March 25, 2013 - linkI agree the trolls are out of control and need some pruning back. They have massively lessened my enjoyment of the site the last couple of times I've visited.