Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mixed news from AMD

One of the big questions asked that was asked in the City of Heroes forums, and a repeated question at that, is when a price break will be coming for RadeonHD 5x00 series cards.

Well, there may be good news in store for those looking for a graphics card that does DirectX 11 and OpenGL 4.0 without costing an arm and leg, and replacing the need for a heater in the winter. Well, Scratch that last part.

According to Digitimes, AMD has authorized TMSC to use it's 55 nano-meter tech to produce more 55nm GPU's, easing the burden on the 40nm process used so far.

While this could mean more RadeonHD 5x00 chips hitting the market, the larger die-size will mean that heat and power costs will go up. My guess is that only the simpler graphics cards, such as the RadeonHD 5400, 5500, and 5600 cards will be manufactured at the larger die size, while the 5700 and 5800 series will continue to be manufactured at 40nm, as those are the cards where heat output and power draw really matter.

What the article isn't clear on is whether or not the new 55nm gpu's WILL be 5x00 series, or if they will be 4x00 series chips. The presumption is that if it's a 4x00 series reboot, we'll see RadeonHD 4890 prices drop to $150 or lower. Such a move would spell additional trouble for Nvidia as the RadeonHD 4890 already runs around with the EOL'd GTX 275, 280, and 285. A newer, even faster clocked version of the 4890, say a 4970, would probably be slotting into the $200 mark, with a 4950 slotting in around $150.

The bad news for these scenarios is this: AMD scored several design wins due to Intel's mis-steps in the mobile market. Which means AMD now also needs chipsets.

The additional 55nm RadeonHD gpu's... are being manufactured by the machines that were previously allocated to manufacturing... chipsets.

So. If you were eying a shiny new Socket AM3 Phenom II... and you would be given the "woof woof" sounds coming from Intel's I5.... be forewarned that AMD motherboard prices could go up over the next few months as supplies of the chipsets decrease.

Now, I don't think prices will rise to the point where you'll be paying Intel I5 prices for an equivalent performance AMD processor and motherboard. I do think prices are going to rise up enough to be noticeable.

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