ATI, the graphics division of AMD, has done a pretty good job so far of bringing its new DirectX 11 capable graphics cards down to prices regular people can afford. True, the Radeon HD 5870 and 5850 launched at truly “enthusiast” pice levels, but the 5770 and 5750 quickly followed and filled in the $150-200 gap. Today, the company introduces the Radeon HD 5670, a new card powered by a new chip and aimed at the sub-$100 market.
The Radeon HD 5670 starts at an estimated price of $99 for the 512MB version (and I found a $99 card on sale today at Newegg), with 1GB versions costing perhaps $15-20 more. The cards are based on a chip code-named “Redwood”. It’s the same fundamental architecture as the “Juniper” chips in the 5700 series and “Cypress” chips in the 5800 series, only scaled back. There are 400 shader units, 20 texture units, and 8 render back-ends. This is exactly one quarter what you find in Cypress, and half what you find in Juniper. Built on a 40nm manufacturing process, the chip should be 100 mm2 or less. Tiny.
In addition to bringing the full DirectX 11, OpenCL, and DirectX Compute features found in all the other 5000 series ATI cards, the 5670 still includes support for “Eyefinity”, ATI’s multiple monitor solution. Clock speeds are 775 MHz for the graphics core, with 1 GHz GDDR5 memory on a 128-bit bus. That gives it a peak of 620 gigaflops of compute power and 64 GB/sec of memory bandwidth. Perhaps its best feature is power consumption (or lack thereof). ATI says the card shouldn’t use more than 61 watts under full load. There are a lot of systems out there with weak power supplies meant for integrated graphics – they don’t supply more than the required 75W to the PCIe bus and they don’t have dedicated plugs for PCIe graphics cards. The low power draw of this card means it can easily go in these systems.
Performance should be pretty good for a card debuting at the $100 mark. A Radeon HD 4770 would cost roughly the same, and for that matter you can even find some Radeon HD 4850 cards just barely above the $100 mark. Either of these would be faster (the 4850 would be much faster), but both require far more power than the 5670 and neither one provides DirectX 11 support.
The Radeon HD 5670 looks like a pretty good product on paper. The best part of it is that the chip is very small and uses very little power. In a few months the price is likely to drop to $79 or less, making this extremely attractive to consumers with off-the-shelf PCs that don’t have the power supply or budget necessary to plug in a serious graphics card.