AMD Ramps Up Graphics Capabilities with New Radeon Cards

AMD is rolling out its ATI Radeon HD 5800 graphics cards, which officials say are the most powerful processors ever at 2.72 teraflops and will support Microsoft's DirectX 11, which will ship with Windows 7. The new cards are the latest push by AMD to establish itself as the top graphics vendor, and come as rival Intel is demonstrating its graphics chip code-named Larrabee at IDF.

SAN FRANCISCO-Advanced Micro Devices is continuing to press its case in the graphics space, rolling out its latest generation of ATI graphics cards.

AMD officials on Sept. 23 unveiled the ATI Radeon HD 5800 series graphics cards, which they called the most powerful processors in the world, with up to 2.72 Tflops (trillion floating-point operations per second) of performance.

The new cards also support Microsoft DirectX 11, the gaming and computing standard that will ship in October with Windows 7. The ATI Radeon HD 5800 cards deliver twice the performance-per-dollar of previous offerings, AMD said, and can take advantage of such AMD technologies as the newly announced Eyefinity multiple-display product and ATI Stream technology.

Click here to see how GPUs can benefit general-purpose computing.

The new graphics cards represent a significant jump ahead in performance and user experience, according to Rick Bergman, senior vice president and general manager of AMD's Products Group.

"As the first to market with full DirectX 11 support, an unmatched experience made possible with ATI Eyefinity technology and ATI Stream technology harnessing open standards designed to help make Windows 7 that much better, I can say with confidence that AMD is the undisputed leader in graphics once more," Bergman said in a statement.

Game machine maker CyberPower on Sept. 23 rolled out three systems that use the new AMD ATI Radeon cards. Two, the Gamer Xtreme 4200 and 5200, use Intel Core 15 and i7 CPUs, respectively, while the third system, the Gamer Dragon 9500, will run on AMD's Phenom II X4 925 CPU.

AMD ramped up its graphics capabilities when it bought ATI for $5.4 billion in 2006. The chip maker initially struggled to integrate the ATI technology into its portfolio, but has been making a push to more tightly integrate CPUs and GPUs (graphics processing units). CEO Dirk Meyer in May announced that the company was merging its CPU and GPU businesses.

AMD also has been a major mover in bringing the power of GPUs to general-purpose computing. In an interview here near the Intel Developer Forum, which is being held Sept. 22 to 24 at the Moscone Center, Patricia Harrell, director of stream computing at AMD, spoke of the need for standards such as OpenCl, OpenGL and DirectX in driving the convergence of CPU and GPU computing.

Such standards will enable users to run their servers with both CPUs and GPUs, and decide which will work best for the workloads being run, she said.

"So it works for the consumer client all the way on up to supercomputing systems," Harrell said.

Intel executives also showed off their company's graphics technologies. In his keynote Sept. 22, Sean Maloney, executive vice president and general manager in the Intel Architecture Group, showed off "Larrabee," which brings Intel greater graphics capabilities. Maloney demonstrated Larrabee through an animated image of a ship in a bay pulled from a video game.

Intel officials said the first Larrabee chip will offer a discrete graphics chip, though that will be followed by tighter integration of the CPU and graphics.

Larrabee will appear in the first quarter of 2010 with Intel's six-core "Gulftown" chip. That will be followed by "Clarkdale," which will include a tighter bond between the CPU and graphics chip on the same module.