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ATI Radeon HD 4770 40nm GPU, $99 Graphics Return
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Date: Apr 28, 2009
Section:Graphics/Sound
Author: Marco Chiappetta
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Introduction and Specifications

AMD is launching yet another new ATI Radeon graphics card today. And in light of the current worldwide economic conditions, along with the performance and power consumption data we'll be presenting you on the proceeding pages, we suspect it's going to be a welcomed addition to the company's already potent graphics card line-up.

You see, the brand new Radeon HD 4770 is AMD's first mainstream desktop GPU manufactured using a 40nm process, and as such, it is more economical for the company to produce (with a smaller die size) and it consumes little power relative to the current crop of products manufactured at 55nm. The Radeon HD 4770's main features don't stray far from the other members of the Radeon HD 4000 family, but its specifications are somewhat different due to the use of a new GPU, which was formerly codenamed RV740.

Now then, what if we told you this new lower power GPU also drops in at a miserly $99 price point?  Are the days of the reasonably powerful $99 graphics card back, you ask?  We'll answer that question for you in the pages ahead but in the mean time, the Radeon HD 4770's main features and benefits are listed below for those of you who like to see all of the gritty details. We'll discuss the card itself and its overall performance a little later. Take a look...


ATI Radeon HD 4770

AMD ATI Radeon HD 4770
Specifications and Features

  • 826 million transistors on 40nm fabrication process
  • PCI Express 2.0 x16 bus interface
  • GDDR5 memory
  • MicrosoftDirectX 10.1 support
    • Shader Model 4.1
    • 32-bit floating point texture filtering
    • Indexed cube map arrays
    • Independent blend modes per render target
    • Pixel coverage sample masking
    • Read/write multi-sample surfaces with shaders
    • Gather4 texture fetching
  • Unified Superscalar Shader Architecture
    • 640 stream processing units
      • Dynamic load balancing and resource allocation for vertex, geometry, and pixel shaders
      • Common instruction set and texture unit access supported for all types of shaders
      • Dedicated branch execution units and texture address processors
    • 128-bit floating point precision for all operations
    • Command processor for reduced CPU overhead
    • Shader instructionUp to 128 texture fetches per clock cycle
    • Up to 128 textures per pixel
    • Fully associative multi-level texture cache design
    • DXTC and 3Dc+ texture compression
    • High resolution texture support (up to 8192 x 8192)
    • Fully associative texture Z/stencil cache designs
    • Double-sided hierarchical Z/stencil buffer
    • Early Z test and Fast Z Clear
    • Lossless Z & stencil compression (up to 128:1)
    • Lossless color compression (up to 8:1)
    • Up to 8 render targets (MRTs) with anti-aliasing
    • Accelerated physics processing
    • Dynamic Geometry Acceleration
    • High performance vertex cache
    • Programmable tessellation unit
    • Accelerated geometry shader path for geometry amplification
    • Memory read/write cache for improved stream output performance
  • Anti-aliasing features
    • Multi-sample anti-aliasing (2, 4, or 8 samples per pixel) and constant caches
    • Up to 24x Custom Filter Anti-Aliasing (CFAA)
    • Adaptive super-sampling and multi-sampling
    • Gamma correct
    • Super AA (ATI CrossFireX configurations only7)
    • All anti-aliasing features compatible with HDR rendering
  • Texture filtering features
    • 2x/4x/8x/16x high quality adaptive anisotropic filtering modes (up to 128 taps per pixel)
    • 128-bit floating point HDR texture filtering
    • sRGB filtering (gamma/degamma)
    • Percentage Closer Filtering (PCF)
    • Depth & stencil texture (DST) format support
    • Shared exponent HDR (RGBE 9:9:9:5) texture format support
  • OpenGL 3.0 support

 

  • ATI Avivo HD Video and Display Platform
    • Unified Video Decoder (UVD) for H.264/AVC, VC-1, and MPEG-2 video formats
    • High definition (HD) playback of Blu-ray and HD DVD video
    • Dual stream (HD+SD) playback support
    • DirectX Video Acceleration 1.0 & 2.0 support
    • Support for BD-Live certified applications
    • Hardware DivX and MPEG-1 video decode acceleration
    • ATI Avivo HD Video Post Processor1
    • Color space conversion
    • Chroma subsampling format conversion
    • Horizontal and vertical scaling
    • Gamma correction
    • Advanced vector adaptive per-pixel de-interlacing
    • De-blocking and noise reduction filtering
    • Detail enhancement
    • Color vibrance and flesh tone correction
    • Inverse telecine (2:2 and 3:2 pull-down correction)
    • Bad edit correction
    • Enhanced DVD upscaling (SD to HD)
    • Automatic dynamic contrast adjustment
  • Two independent display controllers
    • Drive two displays simultaneously with independent resolutions, refresh rates, color controls and video overlays for each display
    • Full 30-bit display processing
    • Programmable piecewise linear gamma correction, color correction, and color space conversion
    • Spatial/temporal dithering provides 30-bit color quality on 24-bit and 18-bit displays
    • High quality pre- and post-scaling engines, with underscan support for all display outputs
    • Content-adaptive de-flicker filtering for interlaced displays
    • Fast, glitch-free mode switching
    • Hardware cursor
    • Two integrated dual-link DVI display outputs
    • Each supports 18, 24, and 30-bit digital displays at all resolutions up to 1920x1200 (single-link DVI) or 2560x1600 (dual-link DVI)3
    • Each includes a dual-link HDCP encoder with on-chip key storage for high resolution playback of protected content4
    • Two integrated 400 MHz 30-bit RAMDACs
    • Each supports analog displays connected by VGA at all resolutions up to 2048x15363
    • DisplayPort output support
    • 24- and 30-bit displays at all resolutions up to 2560x16003
    • HDMI output support
    • All display resolutions up to 1920x1080
    • Integrated HD audio controller with support for stereo and multi-channel (up to 7.1) audio formats, including AC-3, AAC, DTS5, enabling a plug-and-play audio solution over HDMI
    • Integrated AMD Xilleon HDTV encoder
    • Provides high quality analog TV output (component/S-video/composite)
    • Supports SDTV and HDTV resolutions
    • Underscan and overscan compensation
    • Seamless integration of pixel shaders with video in real time
    • VGA mode support on all display outputs
  • ATI PowerPlay technology
    • Advanced power management technology for optimal performance and power savings
    • Performance-on-Demand
    • Constantly monitors GPU activity, dynamically adjusting clocks and voltage based on user scenario
    • Clock and memory speed throttling
    • Voltage switching
    • Dynamic clock gating
    • Central thermal management – on-chip sensor monitors GPU temperature and triggers thermal actions as required
  • ATI CrossFireX Multi-GPU Technology
    • Scale up rendering performance and image quality with up to two GPUs
    • Integrated compositing engine
    • High performance dual channel bridge interconnect

     



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    ATI Radeon HD 4770 Technical Details and Product Matrix

    As the slides above show, the new $99 Radeon HD 4770 falls somewhere in between the Radeon HD 4670 and Radeon HD 4850 in AMD's current product line-up. The 40nm RV740 GPU at the heart of the card consists of 826M transistors and its reference specifications call for a 750MHz GPU clock. The GPU is outfitted with 640 stream processors, 32 texture units, and 16 ROPs and it is linked to its 512MB GDDR5 frame buffer through a 128-bit interface running at 800MHz. At its reference clock speeds, the Radeon HD 4770 offers peak texture and pixel fillrates of 24GTexel/s and 12GPixel/s, respectively, with 51.2GB/s of memory bandwidth. Maximum board power is rated at 80W, which puts it just over the limit of a PCI Express x16 graphics slot, hence the card requires a single 6-pin PCI Express supplemental power connector.  Let's drop down to have a closer look next.

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    The Radeon HD 4770

    The Radeon HD 4770 looks much like the current crop of Radeon HD 4000 series cards, thanks to its red PCB and ATI-branded cooling the solution.

        

        
    Reference ATI Radeon HD 4770

    Like the other members of the Radeon HD 4000 family, the new 4770 features a pair of dual-link DVI outputs with an HDTV output nestled in between. Digitla audio can also be passed through to an HDTV through the use of a compatible DVI-to-HDMI adapter dongle.

    The Radeon HD 4770's PCB is markedly shorter than Radeon HD 4800 series cards, so it should have no trouble fitting into any standard case. And like other Radeons it is equipped with a pair of CrossFire edge connectors for multi-GPU operation. The cooling solution used on the card is two-slots wide and exhausts hot-air from the system through vents in its case bracket. It consists of a heatsink with copper heat-pipes that rests atop the GPU and a barrel-type fan which sucks air in at the rear of the card and expels it from the front. There is also a reinforcement bar on our reference Radeon HD 4770 that run along the top edge of the PCB. It's not a necessity, however, as the card and cooler is relatively light in comparison to most other dual-slot graphics cards.

        

       
    Asus EAH4770 With Custom Cooler

    Custom Radeon HD 4770 cards are also planned by a few of AMD's board partners, as is evident by the Asus EAH4770 you see pictured here. The Asus EAH4770 uses a similar PCB design at the reference card, but with a custom cooling solution. The GPU cooler used on the Asus EAH4770 sits right on top of the GPU with a large cooling fan dead-center. While not completely silent, we found the EAH4770's custom cooler to be very quiet and it did its job quite well, with idle and load GPU temps hovering between 40'C and 75'C. It doesn't, however, exhaust hot air from the case.

    Asus will be shipping the EAH4770 with a basic array of accessories. Included with the card, we found an HD component output dongle, a DVI-to-HDMI adapter, a DVI-to-VGA adapter, a dual-Molex to PCI Express 6-pin power adapter, a quick setup guide, and of course driver and utility discs.

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    Our Test System and 3DMark Vantage

    HOW WE CONFIGURED THE TEST SYSTEM: We tested the graphics cards in this article on an Gigabyte GA-EX58 Extreme motherboard powered by a Core i7 920 quad-core processor and 6GB of OCZ DDR3 RAM. The first thing we did when configuring these test system was enter the system BIOS and set all values to their "optimized" or "high performance" default settings. Then we manually configured the memory timings and disabled any integrated peripherals that wouldn't be put to use. The hard drive was then formatted, and Windows Vista Ultimate SP1 was installed. When the installation was complete we fully updated the OS, and installed the latest DX10 redist and various hotfixes, along with the necessary drivers and applications.

    HotHardware's Test Systems
    Core i7 Powered

    Hardware Used:
    Core i7 920 (2.66GHz)

    Gigabyte EX58-Extreme
    (X58 Express Chipset)

    Radeon HD 4890 OC (EAH4890 TOP)
    Radeon HD 4890 (EAH4890)
    Radeon HD 4870 1GB
    GeForce GTX 285
    GeForce GTX 275
    GeForce GTX 260 Core 216

    6GB OCZ DDR3-1066 C7
    (3 X 2GB)

    Integrated Audio
    Integrated Network

    Western Digital "Raptor" 150GB
    (10,000RPM - SATA)

    Relevant Software:
    Windows Vista Ultimate SP1
    DirectX March 2009 Redist

    ATI Catalyst v9.3b
    NVIDIA GeForce Drive v185.63

    Benchmarks Used:

    3DMark Vantage v1.0.1
    FarCry 2
    Crysis*
    Left 4 Dead*
    Enemy Territory: Quake Wars v1.5*

    * - Custom benchmark

    Futuremark 3DMark Vantage
    Synthetic DirectX Gaming


    3DMark Vantage

    The latest version of Futuremark's synthetic 3D gaming benchmark, 3DMark Vantage, is specifically bound to Windows Vista-based systems because it uses some advanced visual technologies that are only available with DirectX 10, which y isn't available on previous versions of Windows.  3DMark Vantage isn't simply a port of 3DMark06 to DirectX 10 though.  With this latest version of the benchmark, Futuremark has incorporated two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, in addition to support for the latest PC hardware.  We tested the graphics cards here with 3DMark Vantage's Performance preset option, which uses a resolution of 1280x1024 no anti-aliasing and trilinear filtering.



    The Radeon HD 4770 perform quite well in 3DMark Vantage. The card hung right alongside the Radeon HD 4850 and GeForce 9800 GTX+ and pulled slightly ahead of the GeForce 9800 GT.

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    Enemy Territory Quake Wars

    Enemy Territory: Quake Wars
    OpenGL Gaming Performance


    Enemy Territory:
    Quake Wars

    Enemy Territory: Quake Wars is Based on a radically enhanced version of id's Doom 3 engine and viewed by many as Battlefield 2 meets the Strogg, and then some.  In fact, we'd venture to say that id took EA's team-based warfare genre up a notch or two.  ET: Quake Wars also marks the introduction of John Carmack's "Megatexture" technology that employs large environment and terrain textures that cover vast areas of maps without the need to repeat and tile many smaller textures.  The beauty of megatexture technology is that each unit only takes up a maximum of 8MB of frame buffer memory.  Add to that HDR-like bloom lighting and leading edge shadowing effects and Enemy Territory: Quake Wars looks great, plays well and works high end graphics cards vigorously.  The game was tested with all of its in-game options set to their maximum values with soft particles enabled in addition to 4x anti-aliasing and 16x anisotropic filtering.

    Although the numbers in the graph are quite different, the benchmark results from our custom Enemy Territory: Quake wars tests look much like those from 3DMark on the previous page. Here, the Radeon HD 4770 once again hangs with the more expensive Radeon HD 4850 and GeForce 9800 GTX+ and outpaced the GeForce 9800 GT.

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    Crysis v1.21

    Crysis v1.21
    DirectX 10 Gaming Performance


    Crysis

    If you're at all into enthusiast computing, the highly anticipated single player, FPS smash-hit Crysis, should require no introduction. Crytek's game engine produces some stunning visuals that are easily the most impressive real-time 3D renderings we've seen on the PC to date.  The engine employs some of the latest techniques in 3D rendering like Parallax Occlusion Mapping, Subsurface Scattering, Motion Blur and Depth-of-Field effects, as well as some of the most impressive use of Shader technology we've seen yet.  In short, for those of you that want to skip the technical jib-jab, Crysis is a beast of a game.  We ran the full game patched to v1.21 with all of its visual options set to 'Very High' to put a significant load on the graphics cards being tested  A custom demo recorded on the Ice level was used throughout testing.

    Crysis absolutely crushes all of the cards at the high-quality settings we used for testing, but the overall performance trend remains the same. The Radeon HD 4770 slides in just behind the 4850 and 9800 GTX+, but just ahead of the GeForce 9800 GT.

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    FarCry 2

    FarCry 2
    DirectX Gaming Performance


    FarCry 2

    Like the original, FarCry 2 is one of the more visually impressive games to be released on the PC to date.  Courtesy of the Dunia game engine developed by Ubisoft, FarCry 2's game-play is enhanced by advanced environment physics, destructible terrain, high resolution textures, complex shaders, realistic dynamic lighting, and motion-captured animations.  We benchmarked the graphics cards in this article with a fully patched version of FarCry 2, using one of the built-in demo runs recorded in the "Ranch" map.  The test results shown here were run at various resolutions with 4X AA and No anisotropic enabled concurrently.

    The smaller 512MB frame buffers on the Radeon HD 4770, HD 4850, and GeForce 9800 GT really come into play with the high-quality settings we used for testing in FarCry 2. In this test, the Radeon HD 4770 trails all of the other cards, including the GeForce 9800 GT.

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    Left 4 Dead

    Left 4 Dead
    DirectX Gaming Performance


    Left 4 Dead

    Left 4 Dead is a co-operative, survival horror, first-person shooter that was developed by Turtle Rock Studios, which was purchased by Valve part-way into development. Like Half Life 2, the game uses the Source engine, however, the visual in L4D are far superior to anything seen in the Half Life universe to date. The game pits four Survivors of an apocalyptic pandemic against hordes of aggressive zombies. We tested the game at resolutions of 1,920 x 1,200 and 2,560 x 1,600 with 4x anti-aliasing and 16x anisotropic filtering enabled and all in game graphical options set to their maximum values.

    The Radeon HD 4770 performed well in our custom Left 4 Dead benchmark, but couldn't quite keep pace with competing offerings from NVIDIA. Here, the Radeon HD 4770 finished a few frames per second behind the GeForce 9800 GT--the other higher-end cards obviously pulled away by larger margins.

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    Power Consumption

    We'd like to cover a few final data points before bringing this article to a close. Throughout all of our benchmarking and testing, we monitored how much power our test systems were consuming using a power meter. Our goal was to give you an idea as to how much power each configuration used while idling and under a heavy workload. Please keep in mind that we were testing total system power consumption at the outlet here, not just the power being drawn by the motherboards alone.

    Total System Power Consumption
    Tested at the Outlet

    Using a 40nm process to manufacture the Radeon HD 4770 seems to have really paid off in regard to its power consumption characteristics, at least when the card is running at its reference specifications. In our power consumptions tests, the new Radeon HD 4770 consumed the least amount of power at both idle and under load. What's most impressive is the comparison between the 4850 and 4770--although both cards offer somewhat similar performance depending on the game / settings being used, the Radeon HD 4770 consumes significantly less power under load.

    With power consumption this low, it should come as no surprise that the Radeon HD 4770 is a fairly quiet card to operate. Under idle conditions, the Radeon HD 4770 is inaudible over the noise produced by the average CPU cooler and PSU. And under load, the card's fan barely spins up at all. We did have one strange occurrence during our 3DMark Vantage testing where the Radeon HD 4770's fan spun up to full speed and was quite loud, but it happened only once, lasted for only a moment and never happened again.

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    Our Summary and Conclusion

    Performance Summary: The Radeon HD 4770 performed very well throughout out entire battery of tests. Generally speaking, the Radeon HD 4770 offers performance a step above NVIDIA's similarly priced GeForce 9800 GT in most games and a notch behind the more expensive Radeon HD 4850 and GeForce 9800 GTX+.

     

    There is a lot to like about the new Radeon HD 4770. With its expected street price of about $109, which will be brought down further to $99 through mail in rebates, the Radeon HD 4770 offers excellent bang for the buck. In fact, the Radeon HD 4770 offers performance in the same range as cards that were launched at the $299 - $349 price point only a year ago. That's progress. We also found the Radeon HD 4770 to be relatively quiet and found its power consumption to be quite low in comparison to other cards in its class. That means not only is the Radeon HD 4770 competitively priced right from the get go, but it's also a lower cost alternative over the long haul, thanks to its low power consumption. The 40nm RV740 GPU employed on the card should be economical for AMD to produce as well, which should make the Radeon HD 4770 a win-win for consumers and AMD alike.

    In the end, the Radeon HD 4770 is one of the best buys at its expected price point currently. Performance is strong in light of competing offerings, the price is right, and the card is cheaper to operate over time than anything else in its class. Anyone in the market for a new graphics card priced around a hundred bucks should definitely consider the new AMD ATI Radeon HD 4770.

    Update: It appears Radeon HD 4770 cards have already been listed at NewEgg. Unfortunately, there don't seem to be any $10 mail in rebates available with the cards, as AMD had suggested.

    Update #2: Three of the four cards in stock at NewEgg are now listed with the $10 mail in rebates.

         
    • Low power
    • Competitive price
    • DirectX 10.1 support
    • Smallish PCB
    • Quiet cooler
    • We'd prefer lower street prices, over rebates

     



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