An interesting rumor floating around the internet concerns a new AMD 7950 graphics card. Specifically, a forum post over at EXPReview hinted at a new GHz Edition 7950 card. They reference a source and a photo of a graphics card with GHz Edition markings and two six-pin PCI-E power connectors. They further quoted a source that said AMD would be releasing a fourth card to its 7000-series lineup. In other words, there was not a whole lot to go on.
The alleged AMD Radeon HD 7950 GHz Edition graphics card.
I saw the rumor a couple of days ago, but decided to let it sink in for a bit before writing about it. After some thought and internal conversations, I think a 7950 GHz edition is plausible, and certainly a possibility. With the addition of the HD 7970 GHz Edition (which we recently reviewed), AMD now has a 7900 series part with its new GPU Boost (aka Powertune Boost) technology. Unfortunately, that tech can not simply be rolled out to the other existing 7900 series cards meaning that the original 7950 and 7970 are stuck without boost, leaving a gap in its lineup. Because of that, it seems logical that AMD would want to fill in that gap with a refreshed 7950 part that has higher clocks and GPU boost.
The 7970 GHz Edition helped AMD stay competitive with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 and enabled AMD to (re)claim it had the fastest single GPU card. That card was enabled by AMD finding extra headroom and higher bins in its 28nm GPUs. The current Radeon HD 7950 runs at an 800 MHz GPU clock speed and a 5GHz GDDR5 effective clock speed. It is unclear if the company’s chips have enough headroom that they are able to overclock 7950 oriented silicon or if they are simply reworking the bins such that the 7950 GHz Edition is either using silicon that just barely can’t make the cut as a 7970 GHz Edition or AMD is artificially locking down 7970 GHz chips to make these proposed 7950 GHz GPUs. Apart from the increased clock speeds and GPU Boost, the rumored card is said to maintain the same hardware specifications as the existing 7950. Mainly, that means 1,792 stream processors, 112 texture units, and the same number of transistors – 4.31 billion – on a 28nm process. In comparison, the 7970 has 2,048 stream processors and 128 texture units.
As mentioned above, such a chip sounds like a logical step for AMD. By refreshing the 7950 with higher clock speeds and adding GPU Boost functionality it will be fight with the GeForce 670 for the performance crown, and may even come close to 680/7970 performance when overclocked further. I do have a couple of questions about this rumored card, however. Specifically, I am wondering if AMD will simply refresh the 7900 series cards and let the original releases fade out as the stock dwindles or if they will keep them around. I’m leaning towards the later but it will still be interesting to see, and it also makes me wonder how much a 7950 GHz Edition will cost me.
I’m curious what you think about the rumor though, do you think it has any merit? And assuming this is legit, where do you think it will stand performance-wise versus NVIDIA’s products?
If you are curious about how AMD’s new GPU Boost technology works, be sure to check out our Live Review of the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition with AMD’s Evan Groenke where we are given a live demonstration showing how it works and some background on the technology.