AMD Radeon HD 7870 and 7850 GPU Previews

Introduction and Specifications

Here we are, less than three weeks removed from the launch of the Radeon HD 7700 series, and AMD is already at it again. Today we’ll be showing you the first two members of the Radeon HD 7800 series of graphics cards, the Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition and Radeon HD 7850. These two graphics cards are based on yet another new GPU design, which features AMD’s Graphics Core Next architecture, or GCN. Whereas the high-end Radeon HD 7900 series cards feature AMD’s Tahiti GPU and the more mainstream Radeon HD 7700 series is based on the company’s Cape Verde GPU, the new Radeon HD 7800 series is built around a GPU codenamed Pitcairn.

Although all of the members of the Radeon HD 7000 series are based on GPUs in AMD’s “Southern Islands” family of graphics processors, the three GPUs in the family target very different market segments. Cape Verde targets mainstream users, while Tahiti caters to ultra-enthusiasts who like to remain on the bleeding edge. Pitcairn, however, is targeted at the traditional sweet spot of the market, somewhere in the mid-range, between high-end and entry-level type products.

AMD Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition and Radeon HD 7850 DirectX 11 Graphics Cards

AMD Radeon HD 7870 and 7850
Specifications & Features

The main features and specifications of the Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition and Radeon HD 7850 are outlined in the chart above. We’ll go more in-depth on the coming pages, but for now, the information above should give you all an idea as to where the Radeon HD 7800 series fits in AMD’s current graphics card line-up.

The "Southern Islands" Family of AMD GPUs

Before we dig into the specifics, however, we’d like to direct you attention to a few recent articles that will help lay the foundation for what we’ll be showing you on the pages ahead. Since the Pitcairn GPU is based on the same graphics architecture as AMD’s previously-released high-end products, we’ve covered many of its key features at length already. As such, we won’t be diving in to some of them again here.

In our coverage of the Radeon HD 7970 launch, we detail all of the key features of AMD’s Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture and discuss features like PowerTune and AMD ZeroCore Power technology, GCN Tessellation, Partially Resident Textures (PRT), and Discrete Digital Multi-Point audio, among others. In our Radeon HD 7950 coverage, we’ve got CrossFireX scores with the 7900-series and in the Radeon HD 7770 and 7750 launch piece, we detail AMD’s latest mainstream DX11 offerings and discuss how GCN was scaled down to cater to different market segments.

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