AMD Radeon HD 7850 and 7870 review -
PCIe Gen 3 and Eyefinity 2.0
PCIe Gen 3
In Q3 and Q4 of 2011 we have seen a lot of PCIe gen 3 motherboard announcements. What's that all about you ask? In a nutshell, PCI Express Gen 3 provides a 2x faster transfer rate than the previous generation, this delivers capabilities for next generation extreme gaming solutions.
So opposed to the current PCI Express slots which are Gen 2, the PCI Express Gen 3 will have twice the available bandwidth at 32GB/s, improved efficiency and compatibility and as such it will offer better performance for current and next gen PCI Express cards.
To make it even more understandable, going from PCIe Gen 2 to Gen 3 doubles the bandwidth available to the add-on cards installed, from 500MB/s per lane to 1GB/s per lane.
So a Gen 3 PCI Express x16 slot is capable of offering 16GB/s (or 128Gbit/s) of bandwidth in each direction. That results in 32GB/sec bi-directional bandwidth.
The big problem is that you need a symbiosis of proper compatible hardware, like a Gen 3 supporting motherboard, Gen 3 capable processor and thus a graphics card supporting the new standard. A lot of Z68 and all X79 are PCIe Gen 3 certified. However, processor wise the upcoming Ivy Bridge CPUs from Intel will support Gen 3. It is still pending whether or not Sandy Bridge-E will get Gen 3 support.
One of the biggest success stories of the Radeon series was the introduction of Eyefinity. Eyefinity allows you to use multiple monitors in desktop and gaming mode. Typically you needed the very same monitors and resolutions, Eyefinity 2.0 changes that. You are now actually able to create a custom resolution. So if you have three differently sized monitors, you can actually get that working (not that I'd recommend it).
More monitor signal bandwidth is created with the 7000 series cards as well, you may now create resolutions of 16k x 16k. This for a fact allows you to set up say five screens in 5x1 landscape mode in 1920x1200 and even 2560x1600 monitors.
You guys slowly start to understand now why the R7000 has SO MUCH graphics memory right, huge resolutions require huge framebuffers. And for the above mentioned setup with 2560x1600 monitors that would boil down to 12800 x 1600 pixels, that's a 20 Megapixel resolution.
In AMD Catalyst drivers from feb/march 2012 and onwards drivers you will see support for the afore mentioned custom resolutions as well. So 3072x768 can be made manually as well as 5040x1050 or 5670x1200. You are in control of the resolution you like to apply to your monitors.
In the Catalyst 12.2 and newer will also see a new feature called Taskbar Positioning. Say you set up 3 or even 5 screens in landscape mode, it's always a total bitch that the start menu and icons are located all the way to the far left screen. The new feature will allow you to configure the position of the taskbar, so if you want it positioned on the middle monitor, that will become an option. That's progress folks...
We review the new AMD Radeon R9 270, not to be confused with the 270X model ! The non X models are bound to offer value for money as really it these puppies are Pitcairn in disguise (Radeon HD 7870)....
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