Both cards tested today will be based on what is now known as the 'Barts' codenamed GPU. The cards deriving from it will in fact be assigned to the mid-range, not the high-end as many people expected. So yeah, the best has still to come. The reason? AMD needed to clean up some numbering as next year a lot of new products in the Fusion line will eat away the lower segment of the numbering schema.
The Radeon HD 6800 will assign itself to the mid-range market, whereas the Radeon HD 5800 series will be updated with the Radeon HD 6900 (Cayman) series, with a dual-GPU part named Radeon HD 6900 (Antilles), I can't say it often enough to make this clear I guess.
So that is certainly something to think about, as the naming scheme has changed. Also, why did AMD start with the Radeon HD 6850 and 6870 and not the 6900 you might ask. Well, obviously it's easier for AMD to release a slightly lower spec GPU but more importantly, currently the only product that really bothers AMD is NVIDIA's lovely GeForce GTX 460 (GF104). This is a very successful product for which AMD does not have a good answer, as such there's a gap in their product line-up; that gap needs to be filled up first.
Within its own lineup the Radeon HD 6850 will be faster than the Radeon HD 5830, and the Radeon HD 6870 will be faster than the Radeon HD 5850, but not faster than the 5870. The Radeon HD 6870 will be a pure reference product, while the Radeon HD 6850 will see many custom designs and boards. In the end it will be all about pricing of course.
Let's have a quick comparative overview of some of the specifications representing a certain scope of mid-range performance products.
Radeon HD 5770
Radeon HD 5850
Radeon HD 6850
Radeon HD 6870
1 GB GDDR5
1 GB GDDR5
1 GB GDDR5
1 GB GDDR5
~ 127 watts
Faster than 5830
Faster than 5850
So the two R6800 SKUs each have a separate codename, the R6850 being Barts Pro and the 6870 being Barts XT. We'll leave the entire codename thing for what it is now and move onward a little into the architecture.
Both cards are of course updated DX11 class product with a couple of new features. Armed with 1.7 billion transistors the Radeon HD 6850 is pitted against the competition's GeForce GTX 460 768MB model, the 6850 is clocked at 775 MHz on its core and shader processor domain and comes with a full GB of graphics memory. This memory is 256-bit and running at an effective data-rate of 4000 MHz.
The product has 12 SIMD clusters, 48 texture units, 960 shader processors, 32 ROPs and a TDP of 127W, 19W in idle. Despite the memory bus you can recognize similarities close to the R5770 here. This product however will bring you 1.5 TFLOPS of performance, and combined with that 256-bit gDDR5 memory it will leave the R5770 far behind it.
Pitted against the GeForce GTX 460 1GB version is the Radeon HD 6870, and this is going to be the more interesting product for most of Guru3D's readers we suspect. As you've noticed, the overall shader count and clock frequencies are higher then earlier leaked rumors.
The 6870 is clocked a good chunk faster at a nice 900 MHz, it also comes with a full GB of graphics memory. This memory is 256-bit and running at an effective data-rate of 4200 MHz with a peak bandwidth at 134 GB/sec. The product has 14 SIMD clusters, 56 texture units, 1120 shader processors, 32 ROPs and a TDP slightly above 150W with a 19W idle TDP. This product will bring you 2.0 TFLOPS of performance. This means that performance wise the R6870 will sit in-between a R5850 and 5870.
Features wise both graphics cards will be very similar to the last generation products and are merely an advanced updated, however some new features like DisplayPort now follows 1.2 interface specification, HD3D, UVD3 and HDMI 1.4a are introduced. We also spot a new Anti-aliasing mode (Morphological AA), better Anisotropic filtering and improved Tessellation performance up-to twice the performance of that of the 5000 series.
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