WHEN WE HEARD the specs of Evergreen, the scene was one of jaws hanging down and people almost falling backwards into the snowy ground. The only question at that point was, could TSMC make them on the 40nm process?
The real question that everyone is speculating about is the shader count. It is 1600 for Cypress, 800 for Juniper, going down from there. If clocks stay at their targets, more or less where the current R770 is, that should put the DX11 Cypress right on top of the GTX295 for a rumored $100 or so lower price, plus all the added features.
The GTX285 will almost assuredly get creamed by the cheaper low end Cypress/5850, and the pain waterfalls down the stack from there. The 180mm^2 or so Juniper will basically equal the 4870’s performance for far lower cost to AMD, putting pressure on the low end GT200b parts and really hurting whatever Nvidia renames the G92 to this week.
Memory is also interesting, with Evergreen parts using up to 1.25/2.5/5GHz GDDR5. Contrary to many rumors, the upcoming GDDR5+ won’t debut until the next generation cards. That means the 1/2/4ish GHz RAM chips used on the 4870/4890 are no longer top bin, nor do they command top bin pricing. AMD will be able to launch ‘cheap’ Evergreens with GDDR5, halving pin count over GDDR3, lessening PCB layer count and the attendant cost and defect rate. Compare and contrast this to the Nvidia roadmap.
If AMD follows it’s usual form, we will see the main two cards, 5870 and 5850, coming out together, or one shortly after the other. AMD will comfortably have the lead until the GT300 appears, if it can be made.
Should Nvidia be able to top Cypress, Hemlock is in the wings to stuff Nvidia back into a hole. Nvidia is unlikely to be able to yield enough parts to make anything more than press samples for a dual GT300 board.
So in the end, depending on TSMC bins and the alignment of Saturn and Pluto in late September, we should see the best Nvidia has relegated to the mid-tier, $125 and under parts bin. Considering it sells GTX285 kits for that much, it’s going to be very hard for Nvidia to make money in Q4 and Q1/2010. Like we have been saying, Q3 is ugly, but Q4 looks like it’ll be far worse if you are wearing green in Santa Clara.S|A