AMD 79xx GPUs Detailed

AMD Radeon

Manufacturers are expected to release the new AMD 7000 Series GPUs in January 2012. As we already know AMD will first make available the high end cards: 7950, 7970 and later in 2012 (Q4?) we should expect the mainstream and low end cards like: 78xx, 77xx, 76xx etc. These GPUs are expected to perform much better with lower power consumption and at lower temperatures than their counterparts from 6000 series.

Previous speculations told that the new GPUs were supposed to be released on 5th December, but later that date was discovered to be a press conference in London at which AMD detailed the new GPUs. The new GPUs are codenamed Southern Islands.

Another rumor was that AMD would implement XDR2 Memory, XDR2 is twice as fast as GDDR5 but it doesn’t come cheap. At this point it is confirmed that AMD will use GDDR5 Memory.


The first two cards that will be available are 7950 and 7970, the flagship dual GPU 7990 is expected in March 2012.

AMD 7900 Series GPUs

HD7950 – Pro Tahiti

The HD7950 is based on Pro Tahiti Core that has the following specs: 384bit – 900MHz – 56ROUs – 1920ALUs – 120TMUs – 32ROPs – GDDR5 260 GB/s – 3GB Memory – 150 TDU and will be priced at about $350-400

HD7970 – XT Tahiti

The HD 7970 is based on XT Tahiti Core that has the following specs: 384bit – 1000MHz – 64ROUs – 32CUs – 2048ALUs – 128TMUs – 32ROPs – GDDR5 264 GB/s – 3GB Memory – 190 TDP and will be priced at about $450-500 and should need 1 x 6-pin + 1 x 8-pin power connectors.

So what are the new capabilities of the Tahiti Cores? (7950 & 7970)

  • Graphics Core Next Architecture 28nm
  • Up to 32 Compute Units
  • Dual Geometry Engines
  • 8 render backends:
    • 32 color ROPs per clock
    • 128 Z/stencil ROPs per clock
  • Up to 768KB read/write L2 cache
  • Fast 384-bit GDDR5 Memory Interface
    • Over 264 GB/sec memory bandwidth
  • PCI Express 3.0 x16 bus interface (with Intel Ivy Bridge)
  • 4.3 billion 28nm transistors
  • AMD 7900 Series GPUs Tesselation Performance
    The graph shows a huge performance increase in tessellated areas. All 5 game tested are presented with at least a 50% performance gain between 6970 and 7970

    HD7990 – New Zealand

    The HD7990 is rumored to be a 2×7950/2×7970 with 6GB(2×3) Memory and is expected to be released in March 2012 and to cost about 700$.

    DirectX 11.1

    The new AMD GPUs are the first to have support for DirectX 11.1, the new improved API will be released with Microsoft’s latest operating system: Windows 8.

    The following functionality has been added in Direct3D 11.1.

    • Shader tracing
    • Direct3D device sharing
    • Check support of new Direct3D 11.1 features and formats
    • Create larger constant buffers than a shader can access
    • Use logical operations in a render target
    • Force the sample count to create a rasterizer state
    • Process video resources with shaders
    • Change subresources with new copy options
    • Discard resources and resource views
    • Support a larger number of UAVs
    • Bind a subrange of a constant buffer to a shader
    • Retrieve the subrange of a constant buffer that is bound to a shader
    • Clear all or part of a resource view
    • Map SRVs of dynamic buffers with NO_OVERWRITE
    • Use UAVs at every pipeline stage


    Recently a online shop from Holland posted a Asus 7970 for sale at about 573 EURO or $750. At that price it may be a joke. Yesterday the HD7970 price was 624 EURO or $810…

    AMD 7970 Price

    The product was later removed….

    If you want to find out how a HD7970 performs against a HD6970 and a GTX580 or how Crossfire will scale take a look here: AMD HD7970 Leaked Performance Charts.

    • Johnny 3D

      Did some rookie mistakes when I posted the article and some data was messed up. Everything should be fixed now.

    • GGuts

      Hm interesting stuff.

      Maybe im gonna save some money to get one of those 7950’s. Problem is: About a year ago i planned to go crossfire with a second Sapphire 6950 1GB someday, but with recent developments, as bf3 using about 1.5 GB vram. While there are always lots of problems on games’ releases, I always read about xfire setups not being able to play without, e.g. stuttering or flickering etc., for another month at least.
      What would Mister Benchmark3d do? ;)

      • Johnny 3D

        If you asked me this two weeks ago I would have said to stay away from CF or dual GPUs if you don’t use eyefinity or a resolution above 1080p. Recently AMD released real custom CAPs in their Catalyst driver and this will ameliorate some CF issues. Although there are a lot of 3rd party software that do just that, almost all CF users report bad performance and negative scaling.

        For a 1080p monitor a 7950/7970 will be more than enough.

        Reference 7950 and 7970 have 2 and 3 GB of Ram, so that should be more than enough.

        Personally, I’d try to avoid CF for now.

      • Johnny 3D

        Just a few hours agp I was telling you to skip CF and now that picture “leaks” ….

    • SolidEther

      I have a Sapphire HD6970 2GB and it has finally hit a level of driver performance and stability that prove it a powerful and mostly reliable card.It can run DX 9, DX 10, 10.1, and 11 games very well or at worst playable. IT is a shame that when developers just begin to learn or rather implement the new feature set of the newest DX version another is released, usually with a new OS and another $600- $700 GPU.

      When released DX 9 was revolutionary and still carries a bulk of all PC titles to date. 9.0c is still as standard as DX11 is still somewhat novel as it has amazing features including Tesselation but are rarely seen in use effectively ie. Batman: AA & AC.

      Before developers could even harness the power capable in direct X 11, now MS builds an 11.1 to help spit out an uneeded update to seven. My opinion anyway.

      Whatever happened to DX 10.1. LOL where are the titles that had that on the list of features “amazing DX 10.1 graphics” I do remeber a few greats Crysis or was that just DX10- I think Resident Evil 5 had 10.1. You see my point DX 10 was a skipped generation of technology. Direct X 11 was preparing to show its greatness now devs will be pressured to show off 11.1 features and usually that sacrifices in other vital areas making games promotional items for windows technology instead of the entertainment media they are sold as., but will those 11.1 features even be used before DX 12?

      I mean as DX is updated all the features are used eventually and game development benefits, obviously but using these incremental DX updates as purchasing points is not important because when the games that finally use all the features of that DX update provides become commonplace they will be selling 8900s running DX 12 On windows X.

      My thought is now another amazing piece of technology in the 7900 series that will be marred for at least a year with constant driver issues that will have to have work done in Windows 7 and now Windows 8. It will take quite some time for overall good drivers (like the 11.12 Beta, and 12.1 Preview Catalyst) I mean look how long it took for the 6900s to have drivers that didn’t make you cross your fingers each time you run a title.

      This time I will wait until the 7900s are stabilized and drivers are usable for mass programs. I will see if Win 8 is another Vista and DX 11.1 is another DX 10,1, and then go form there. Because ever since I had My HD4870x2 I learned that you need to wait for a while to allow manufacturers time to allow thier software teams to catch up with the hardware teams, after all software will always be behind because that they provide free, new hardware sells for top dollar even if it all those new features won’t work properly until the price lowers anyway. Those with the money and the wish to have the newest tech and want to pay brand new prices to be beta testers great for them. Unlike the last two purchase I made I will keep my trust 6970- the best card I have used, and wait until games become so developed it can no longer run them at the level I desire then I will pick up a new 7900. Although, it would be nice if they researched the software fully and the 7900s released with a fully functional or mostly usable without too many issues driver out of the box.

    • Johnny 3D

      DirectX 10.1 was a waste in my opinion, the only DX10.1 game I remember playing is HAWX. But you only had to buy a DX10.1 graphics card and install a service pack. Now, with DX11.1 you don’t only need to buy the card, you have to buy a new Windows…which sucks.

      That “touch interface” in Windows 8 hates me and always pops-up…it’s very irritating.

      1xxx – DirectX 9
      2xxx – DirectX 10
      3xxx – DirectX 10.1
      4xxx – DirectX 10.1
      5xxx – DirectX 11
      6xxx – DirectX 11
      7xxx – DirectX 11.1
      Kind of a pattern emerges…

      With a little bit of luck we’ll have Windows 7 Service Pack 2 with DirectX 11.1 support. Of course we’ll have to see if DX11.1 is really worth the new Windows because I’m sure 7xxx cards are worth upgrading. There are some speculation on the Internet that the 7970 comes really close to 6990 in terms of performance…and that with the initial drivers which can only get better. But we’ll have to see about that.

      • SolidEther

        I definately see that you noticed the trends and pointed them out in a much simpler way.

        Your WIndows 7 SP2 with 11.1 update Idea is a absolutely bang up idea I hope the execs,devs & coders at microsoft agree with that bit of genious.

        I am running win 8 beta on a Dell Inspiron 530s Duo Core Celeron @ 1.98 GHz, 2GB DDR2 and it was running onboard video and it performed OK except for what you stated that annoying pop up what they call METRO interface or some other thing. I read in a report that MS is trying to make win 8 more intuitive like its windows phone OS design (oh nausea). I pulled back the metal on the case to fit my 4870×2 (the machine is a low profile setup with a mATX size case and mainboard) Using the Windows 8 Preview Driver and of course the drivers need aot of work.

        So again Windows 7 for me for a while hoping for that 11.1 Service pack 2 :)

        Just like all new radeons, They are awe inspiring. I do like the preliminary performance projections for the 7900s I am looking foward to see how quickly the driver situation uses all that potential, then I will consider purchasing even though I would like to get my hands on one release day. Plus my 6970 isn’t smoking or making any noises so it will do for a while.

        I will of course stay tuned for future info on the new series.

    • jack

      I`ll wait for some reviews to pop up then i will judge. I don`t really like AMD cards lately, they still struggle with nvidia which has better suport and features. After the bulldozer disaster…i will have to see if the upgrade is worth it. AMD should really invest in offering what nvidia does…and amd doesn`t have Physx. They managed to make an equivalent to CUDA with Stream, but I did not seen an equivalent to physx yet.

    • SolidEther

      Jack I agree with your wait for reviews approach. As for liking AMD cards it is a preferred taste.

      I always hear about nVidia being a better this or that, but I have been installing and using various GPUS for about 17 years now since I was 17. I am a graphic designer as well as gamer and I always noticed nVidia was higher priced for performance that was not imediately needed and ever since the days when ATI Rage Fury and my first Rage Fury Maxx (first dual GPU card, although they didn’t work in tandem it was an alternating frame rendering deal) I have been ATI-AMD.

      Since then I have notice better picture quality, more innovative features, I mean most of the new techs have been ATI sided. Multi Card systems were first built by ATI since the 9800 Series building advanced graphics machines and simulators. nVidia later introduced the multi card tech to retail consumers as SLI.

      When you say AMD doesn’t have physics that is complex statement. While it is true AMD did not obtain the physX technology from the AGEIA franchise, because nVidia bought the company and its technology to implement it. Rather AMD developed its own ATI Stream technology APP that allows it to handle phyics more adequetely than using the CPU alone through the use of OpenCL it provides the CPU with some GPU backup when rendering physics instructions.

      Also I believe there is still a hacked nvidia physX driver (nVidia disabled its PhysX driver use in AMD Systems) that allows you to use a nVidia card as physX while using the AMD card for graphics. I’ve heard and read that the combination worked well if it hasn’t encountered disolution.IT is interesting because you can use a lower end nVidia GPU ( as long as it supports Phsx.of course) that is inexpensive and a high end AMD card since the nVidia GPU is only handling physX it works the physics extremely fast and the graphics are solely on the AMD card so the CPU has no physics work at all improving its speed for loading other data. This is ecspecially helpful when using a Single or dual core CPU that doesn’t have alot of threads available to reserve exclusively for physics

      Really though both comapnies have advantages and disadvantages. IT is really all up to you and what you like and need.

    • SolidEther

      Also, about the 7900s it seems they have removed the second DVI interface. A feature I really like as all alot of monitors still use DVI as thier main connection, ecspecially inexpensive ones. Plus it makes things easier if you want to set up a dual monitor situation without the need for dongles. AMD will probably include a HDMI to DVI dongle or mini dp to DVI as a solution for the missing second DVI port as the adapter is less expensive than a built in 2nd DVI port.

      • Johnny 3D

        Call me old school or noob but I still have two D-SUB monitors and one of them is a dust collector. I can’t connect two D-SUB monitors (with DVI-VGA adaptor) because AMD decided that just the first DVI port should actively convert digital to analog…

        One thing AMD should have done a long time ago is to support DirectX 11 Multithreading, Nvidia did this one year ago…
        “Many graphics applications are CPU-bound because of costly activities such as scene graph traversal, object sorting, and physics simulations. Because multicore systems are becoming increasingly available, Direct3D 11 has improved its multithreading support to enable efficient interaction between multiple CPU threads and the D3D11 graphics APIs.”

        except AMD drivers don’t have support for it…they only use 1 thread in DirectX 11…

    • jack

      @Solid Ether. Most of the innovations you speak of were made by 3dfx which were later aquired by nvidia and yes I agree that Nvidia cards are overpriced.

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