AMD HD 6970 and HD 6950 Reviewccokeman - December 14, 2010
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With the beginning of a new product generation comes new technologies that the generation supports. Many of the new features are based on older technologies supported from the prior generations with a fresh take aimed at improving the end user experience.
With the new 6000 series graphics cards, each can support up to six monitors for an Eyefinity setup. Gamers are no longer stuck with using only a single monitor for game play as the games can now be spanned across multiple monitors and can also make use of the new 3D technologies explained further towards the bottom. Multiple displays can be powered by a single connector with Eyefinity and the ultra-high bandwidth DisplayPort 1.2 Multi Stream output capabilities with high quality audio also being transmissible. Below is a demonstration of a triple-monitor Eyefinity setup with several different game examples to view either a classic single monitor setup or the new Eyefinity triple-monitor experience.
Morphological anti-aliasing is a post-process filter that is accelerated with DirectCompute 11 and is able to filter the entire scene. MLAA is faster than super-sampling with similar performance to the older CFAA while being applicable to all edges of the scene. MLAA is compatible with applications using Microsoft DirectX versions 9, 10 and 11. Anisotropic Filtering has also been updated with a new algorithm for smoother transitions between filter levels and to address visible discontinuities in textures. MLAA processing takes highly contrasting edges and blends them for a more seamless render.
Enhanced Quality Anti-Aliasing:
This new Anti-Aliasing option is available with the introduction of the HD 6900 series GPU's from AMD and is an enhancement over standard Multi Sample AA by doubling the number of coverage samples per pixel. By not using additional video memory, there should be a negligble performance hit for this additional tool for smoothing rough edges.
Accelerated Parallel Processing
AMD is making a shift by changing the naming scheme away from ATI to unify the company with its CPUs and GPUs. The name Accelerated Parallel Processing (APP) technology will replace the ATI Stream nomenclature in an effort to convey what it means more clearly. The core has been re-designed to improve efficiency and add new features and more power. OpenCL and DirectCompute 11 are both supported and help boost performance as well in certain applications that make use of these frameworks and allows the GPU to do parallel processing and non-GPU related tasks such as physics calculations. Tessellation performance was focused on with the new design using an updated tessellation unit that can perform up to two times the 5000-series generation performance with adaptive capabilities to balance image quality and performance. Media playback and processing were also updated with a dedicated UVD 3.0 accelerator which provides decoding for Blu-ray 3D and DivX. AMD calls the combination of APP, UVD, OpenCL, and DirectCompute 11 "AMD EyeSpeed" technology.
PowerTune technology is a another new introduction on the HD 6900 series GPUs that allows a way to manage the performance delivered by adjusting the power profile by a factor of +/- 20%. What this does is allow you to adjust the TDP limits of the core to increase performance by increasing the power limit/threshold that the core will operate at. What this can do is allow you to increase the clock speeds with low overhead operations to not give away graphics performance in these situations. Under heavy loads the clock speeds are dynamically adjusted to increase performance. This enhancement can be found in the Catalyst Control Center under the Overdrive section. A more detailed explanation is below.
The 3D arena has been further expanded upon by AMD to support 3D Blu-ray playback with Stereoscopic 3D display/glasses and 3D Stereoscopic gaming and middleware support. Their goal is to increase flexibility and choices for 3D media, games, conversion and display technologies. Now users have several options available for a riveting 3D experience in games, movies and images.
With some of the new technologies debriefed, here it is time to take a look at the specifications and features of the graphics cards themselves. Thanks to AMD for the images.