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Old 10-07-2007, 09:26 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default RV670, RD790 and Phenom

Working RV670, Phenom system pixellated - The INQUIRER

AMD IS GEARING UP to launch three series of products for Q4'07. AMD Phenom, RD790 and RV670 are all supposed to arrive in at the same time.
And we managed to get the chance to play around with the demo machine AMD set up in cooperation with Sapphire.

Components placed in a huge case from Thermaltake...

AMD is calling its CPU+GPU+Chipset package "Spider", and the system we had in hand consisted of an AMD Engineering Sample CPU, clocked at AMD's standard engineering sample frequency, two RV670 cards and 2GB of Super Talent DDR2-1066 memory. The motherboard was Sapphire's own RD790 creation, albeit in first-generation form. Sapphire's second generation motherboard will ship at teh same time as the AMD parts, sporting features Sapphire is well known for.

AMD's quad-core Phenom was marked as Engineering Sample, causing some utilities not to recognise the processor

The processor for this system is no other than long-awaited Agena. TheCPU runs with no issues in Socket AM2 and AM2+ motherboards, HyperTransport 3 is up and running, but sadly, we could not run any benchmarks as far as CPU is concerned.

We wonder why AMD test systems are not running 64-bit Vista, but the 32-bit version with 2GB of memory is working just fine.

For an engineering sample, we did not experience any instabilities - this silicon worked just fine. The system is very responsive to any command given, but we could not check the speed of loading Windows Explorer when network drives are attached.

Sapphire's RD790 Motherboard

Tuning up the HyperTransport 3 all the way up to 2.6GHz each lane, or 5.3 GTransfers/s.

You can start cheering right away, since AMD decided to push the digital distribution of power (aka DVRM, Digital PWM) across the whole product range. In our talk with folk from Markham, we learned that such decision was made in order to have complete control over every aspect of the system, so that users could change every possible aspect from the motherboard, GPU or components tied to the motherboard.

Of course, this all depends on motherboard makers or AIBs implementing all of the features that Daamit has in store, but what we have seen - RD790 will be a tweaker's dream.

This board had small passive coolers on critical components, three PCIe 2.0 slots for graphics and a couple of PCI ones.

When it comes to PCI Express and the whole configurability, AMD's call to go digital with the reference design and now with Sapphire and DFI designs was absolutely the right one.

Manual control over how much watt with every PCIe 2.0 port get. If you max out the PCIe slot + PEG connector, this can give more juice.

If, for instance, motherboard vendors decide to implement PCIe control, the user will be able to completely control the way the PCIe slot works, from the electrical side to data. In a reference BIOS shown to us, we could change the amount of current available per slot. So, with three or four slots per motherboard, you can regulate how much power can go to a slot.

If your PSU can handle it, you can give up to 255 Watts just through the slot, 105W more than defined by the PCIe 2.0 standard. You can go as low as 25W (or even cut the power entirely, if you don't want to use the slot), so there will be no issues with compatibility with PCIe 1.0, 1.0a, 1.1 and 2.0 boards.

ATI RV670 graphics cards

Cards shown here had 2S cooler, and board remind us of X1950 with digital PWM

Now we come to the star of the show. We cannot believe that company had the balls to show off an unreleased product on WCG finals, but it seems that AMD is changing its ways. This was not the only thing they showed, but for that we'll do another article or two.

The RV670 shown here did not come marked "RV670XT" or "RV670XTX", just one of RV670 reference designs. The two boards worked in Crossfire, hidden in huge Thermaltake chassis. These boards had a dual-slot cooler, and power consumption is such that it can run just from the PCIe 2.0 slot alone. However, in order to keep the compatibility with PCIe 1.1 motherboards on the market, six-pin PEG connector was used.

We learned that no final clocks are set yet, but the boards that are here in Seattle worked at quite interesting clocks. Needless to say, this product is going to offer high-end performance for excellent price. We will have quite an interesting battle on our hands.

But to get back to the boards themselves, the design is something we would put between Radeon X1950 and 2600XT. 512MB of GDDR4 memory were used on the card, but the cards had no DisplayPort connectors. We had no means to measure the temperature, but you can keep the finger touching the back of the PCB in GPU area with no problem, even when 3D apps are running.

All in all, we have seen quite interesting display of engineering from ATI and AMD, now the only thing that remains is finalising the products, selling chips to partners and getting this complete package out the door.

We're reasonably sure that AMD will launch all three parts at the same time, but nothing is set in stone.

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Old 10-07-2007, 09:26 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: RV670, RD790 and Phenom

RV670 clocks are not yet defined - The INQUIRER
AS WE PREVIOUSLY disclosed in this article, RV670 is a vastly improved R600 chip. And if you are wondering how a chip with 256-bit memory controller can outdo a 512-bit one, the answer can be found by looking at the clocks.
As it stands right now, neither the clocks not the TDP have been

finalised, and this will not happen for the next couple of weeks, until the final round of speed binning completes and ATI issues a final production BIOS for the card.
However, partners now have physical prototype cards that work on different clocks, and we can now say that from one side, we have RV670XT, followed by cheaper RV670Pro.
Prototype board with RV670XT markings, that was leaked by several vendors sported a TDP of 132 Watts, and had GPU clocked all the way to 825 MHz, with GDDR4 memory working at 1.2 GHz (2.4 GT/s), while RV670 Pro prototype came with GPU clocked at 750 MHz, and GDDR3 memory was working at 900 MHz (1.8 GT/s). This board has TDP of around 104W.
As you know, original Radeon HD 2900XT had GPU clocked at 743MHz, with GDDR3 memory clocked at 826MHz. Now, even the RV670Pro has higher GPU and memory clock, so you can imagine the performance difference. We have to remind you that specs are not final, and the clocks of Gemini board (two RV670 GPUs on single PCB) and final clocks of XT/Pro are not set in stone. Same applies for overclocked version of RV670 with 2-slot cooling. GPU clock of 900MHz or 940MHz should not be unreachable, and when put under water, you should expect quite stellar results.
Both boards are PCI Express 2.0, but in order to keep the compatibility with 1.0 and 1.1 boards, both boards carry 6-pin PEG connector. There have been some issues with PCIe 2.0 boards when plugged in 1.1 motherboards (read: did not work), so Daamit is playing it safe and RV670 does not surpass the 75W draw from the PCIe slot - as required by 1st gen PCIe x16 electrical spec.
Several readers came back to us after the original article and asked about video capabilities. Unlike R600 and the whole soggy affair about R600 has UVD on several marketing slides (in fact, it did not), RV670 had enough room on a wafer to put full video encoding/decoding engine known to the world as UVD or Universal Video Decode.
We hope we managed to shed some light in this situation. Nevertheless, our standard disclosure applies: RV670 is a living and breathing project, with nothing being set in stone. Yet. µ
AMD demoes PCIe 2.0 in action - The INQUIRER

AMD WILL STAY in DDR2 land with upcoming generation of chipsets, but this does not mean their everlasting competitor will have a performance advantage. Even though AMD will use dual-channel DDR2-1066, the company still expects to beat DDR3 in performance numbers at least until DDR3-1600 becomes a reality. This is much to the fact that memory controller inside the AMD processors always worked at very high efficiency, such as 90+ percentage, while Intel is currently stuck with a frontside bus that cannot eat up more than a single DDR2-1066 channel, yet alone two (Intel and Nvidia chipsets with dual-channel memory controllers make up in write arena, since write speed is almost the same as the read speed - something that single-channel memory cannot do). AMD will support members of 10h family (Barcelona/Agena/Griffin) with two chipsets: RD790 and RS790. RD790 is a high-peforming chipset, while RS790 features next step in integrated graphics for AMD.
On a recently held CTO Technology Summit in Monterey, AMD's execs were happy to show Agena FX (rebranded Barcelona) and Agena happily running in motherboards based on RD790 chipset. As it goes, motherboards that were shown carried names of fishes. These are engineering motherboards, so do not expect that this layout will come to life, unless some AMD's partner such as Sapphire comes on board.

AMD Hammerhead
AMD Hammerhead is a motherboard that features one Socket AM2+ for Agena/Kuma cores. It features two PCIe 2.0 slots and two regular full-sized PCIe 1.1 slots. If you take into account that PCIe 2.0 is backwards compatible with 1.1, you can see making the ground for a Quad Crossfire concept, that is probably going to debut with arrival of HD2400/2600 (RV610/630) and upcoming RV670 chips. RD790 Northbridge chip will work with either SB600 or upcoming SB700 Southbridge chip. Board requires 24-pin + 8-pin ATX connectors plus single 4-pin molex connector, nothing special when it comes to the high-end motherboards of today. Board features four SATA and a single PATA port. Two Gigabit network connectors are supported via Marvell's PCIe based controllers, while 7.1 audio is provided by RealTek.

Wahoo or "Will the real 4x4 please stand up"
AMD Wahoo is a motherboard that features two Socket 1207+ (F+) for Phenom FX (Agena FX) series of processors. We like the fact that power for the processor is supplied via digital PWM, resulting in high efficiency. Wahoo features three full-sized PCIe slots out of which two are PCIe 2.0, and one is your regular PCIe 1.1. One slot is your regular PCI slot, and one small green coloured slot is PCIe x1.
We are surprised to see such amount of power connectors, since the board requires two 4-pin molex connectors, two 8-pin 12V+ ones and a regular 24-pin ATX connector. All in all, expect that this beast in its current engineering form requires no less that four 8-pin connectors (two for the motherboard, two for graphics cards) - but then again, this is for those users that want absolute maximum. Luckily for sane people, AMD plans to bring Phenom FX into the world of regular single-socket motherboards, so you can take a deep breath and relax.

DirectX 10 coming to a cheap computer later in the year
Third shown board features RS790 chipset, successor of 690G. Given the AMD brand name policy, it is not hard to imagine that this chipset could see the light of the day as 790G. We could not find the name of the reference motherboard (oddly enough, it wasn't printed on the PCB) chipset comes with regular PCIe 1.1. x16 slot, and we are not certain about PCIe 2.0 support. This chipset is also a base for Puma mobile platform - so yes, it really does feature DirectX 10 graphics subsystem.
And for the end, we leave you with the picture of very first R600 board that works in PCIe 2.0 slot: this power hog needs only single 6-pin PEG connector on the board itself, because the slot can provide 150W of juice, thus making one 6-pin connector redundant.

R600 requires 200+ Watts... but if the board can deliver 150W, do you need all those extra connectors then? Of course, not.
Of course, unless a certain product codenamed R670 (65nm R600) does not require equal amount of juice. Judging by our sources, design plan is to cut the power by a milestone, so it should not be the case. µ

All the pictures were provided courtesy of dottore Corsini from HWupgrade.it. Thanks buddy.
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