AMD Radeon HD 7950. Fighting above its weight against NVIDIA’s best competitor the GTX 580, the 7950 has leapt into the ring, and it’s come out swinging. AMD looks to be pinning NVIDIA against the ropes with the vicious one two punch that is the 7970 and 7950 video cards. While the HD 7970 is still the King of Über Video cards it’s little brother the 7950 is in there punching way above its weight.
The new video card has all of the same features and functions as the 7970 but with a slightly slimmed down number of processor units – 1792 stream processors instead of 2048 and 112 Texture units instead of 128 – the 7950 loses 10 to 20% performance while saving $100 when compared to its big brother. Compared to its NVIDIA competition it runs cooler, quieter and faster. Available immediately AMD has priced the 7950 to compete directly with the GTX 580. The HD 7950 can be found online for $450 USD while the GTX 580 was priced at $470 USD before the 7950’s release. Expect NVIDIA to start feeling pressure on these prices.
The HD 7950 is based on the 28nm Tahiti Pro GPU which is part of the Southern Islands family of processor. Collectively this family of processors drive the new AMD HD 7000 family of video cards, so far made up of the 7970 and now the 7950 video cards. More releases are scheduled for March to expand the 7000’s into the mid-range video card market.
There is no shame in running second. The world loves B-Movies. While some may consider the 7950 a B-Movie amongst Über video cards it fulfills an important part of the market. Giving buyers a cheaper option and driving the price of the NVIDIA 580 down. The 7950 puts a nice squeeze on NVIDIA’s current fastest single GPU, the GTX 580. In tests the 7950 is beating most standard – non-overclocked – speed GTX 580’s. Which in theory will force NVIDIA to keep its 580 priced in parity with the HD 7950. Leaving AMD’s HD 7970 to stay priced up in the stratosphere by itself.
Internally the HD 7950 features; 1792 stream processors, 112 TMUs and 32 ROPs. The card packs 3GB of GDDR5 memory paired with 384-bit wide memory interface. Clockspeed for the GPU is set at 800MHz while memory runs at 1250MHz. As this is simply a slimmed-down HD 7970 all of AMD’s marketing speak technology is present in the HD 7950; AMD’s ZeroCore Power Technology, Discrete Digital Multi-Point Audio, PowerTune, GCN, Eyefinity, Partially Resident Textures (PRT),
As per usual with all Über video cards be sure you have the space and power required to house one of these mini space heaters. – See the AMD 7970 article for details -.
The Remaining HD 7000 Family
Throughout the second half of February AMD will release more members of the HD 7000 family. Expect the next batch of cards to populate the low end video card market with a pair of cards; the HD 7750 and HD 7770 that will range in price from $149 to $299 USD. Both with 1GB of GDDR5 memory, a 900MHz core frequency, and 832/896 stream processors these cards will still offer excellent performance at low low prices.
March will see the release of a pair of mid-range performance cards, the HD 7850 and HD 7870. Featuring 2GB of RAM, between 1280 and 1408 stream processors and priced between $200-$300 USD these are the hot hatches of the video card world. Not quite super-cars but still zippy at an affordable price.
Waiting in the wings till the end of March is AMD’s King of Über Video Cards the 7990 Dual GPU video card. This will contain two complete 7970’s on the one card and will take the top spot with ease unless NVIDIA has a reply.
Getting the balance right for the value Über video card can be tricky for companies like AMD and NVIDIA. Disable too many processors and we the purchasing public end up with an expensive lame duck! Don’t disable enough and the manufacturer loses sales of the top end video card above the value card. AMD in the case of the HD 7950 has the balance just right. If you can’t quite afford the top end HD 7970 AMD have supplied a more value oriented version of the Tahiti chip, wrapped it in 3GB of Ram and called it the HD 7950
Available immediately the HD 7950 is cheaper, cooler and lower power than its NVIDIA competition. It blows doors off previous generation cards such as the HD 6970 or GTX 580. The Tahiti Pro based HD 7950 has all of the latest features of its next generation brother, along with lower price tag. Can AMD continue its grip on the Über graphics card market? Does NVIDIA have a response on the way? Stay tuned, things are just getting warmed up.