Two of the first SB850 enabled motherboards from MSI (left) and Gigabyte (right).
Currently I am re-doing some of the SB850 tests with the new Western Digital 1TB SATA 6G drive, and the performance is a pretty big step up from the last couple generations of hard drives (admittedly, the Seagate 7200.11 that I previously used is a bit long in the tooth). From speaking with AMD, they are getting much better performance on their reference board than we are seeing with the current retail examples. If this is true, then we can expect further BIOS updates in the future to get SB850 performance where it needs to be. Considering the sorry state of AMD’s southbridges in the past with regards to I/O performance, this could be a bigger deal for AMD than just the fact that it supports SATA 6G.
The second part of this deals with AMD’s beta drivers for OpenGL 4.0 functionality. This is actually a bit of a surprise, as NVIDIA has typically blazed the trail of next generation OpenGL/OpenCL support in their drivers. This is of course more interesting to software developers than end users, due primarily to the lack of OpenGL applications for end user use. What is perhaps most interesting about OpenGL 4.0 is that it is fully supported under Windows XP, and encompasses most of the functionality that we see in DX10/DX11. While we are not seeing OpenGL support in gaming as much as we used to, perhaps that will change due to Steam opening up on the Mac and Valve porting their games over to that platform using OpenGL. Throw in the PS3 and its OpenGL support, perhaps we will see a bit of an OpenGL on the PC Renaissance? I certainly wouldn’t mind that idea, especially the whole OpenGL 4.0 on Windows XP! OpenGL 3.3 is support on the Radeon HD 2000 through 5000 series of cards, while OpenGL 4.0 is only supported on the latest HD 5000 series. The drivers can be found here: http://support.amd.com/us/kbarticles/Pages/Catalyst-OpenGL-preview-driver.aspx
In our final topic for today’s AMD news brief, it seems as if Gigabyte might be attempting to pull a bit of a fast one. Not dishonest mind, but just sorta funny. AMD is going to release the rest of the 800 series of chipsets this month, but before that is happening Gigabyte sorta jumped the gun. They are offering a AMD 790X based motherboard using the SB850 southbridge. The board’s features match what we would expect the upcoming AMD 890X to have, but Gigabyte has a nice head start on the competition by classifying this board as a AMD 790X product. Except the name of the motherboard is GA-890XA-UD3. One difference between this board and the 890GX is the lack of the integrated video portion, giving the board perhaps a smaller power draw overall. The other is the use of a 8+2 power phase array, which could enable slightly better overclocking than the 4+1 enabled 890GX board from Gigabyte.