Earlier today one of our news editors, Andrew Cunningham, came to me with an interesting problem. HP was launching their gaming-oriented Phoenix desktop, and the spec sheet listed a video card he had never seen before: the Radeon HD 7670. Initially thinking it was a typo on HP’s part we did some digging, and after finding a well-hidden product page we had our answer. It’s Turks.

  AMD Radeon HD 7670 AMD Radeon HD 6670
Stream Processors 480 480
Texture Units 24 24
ROPs 8 8
Core Clock 800MHz 800MHz
Memory Clock 1GHz (4GHz data rate) GDDR5 1GHz (4GHz data rate) GDDR5
Memory Bus Width 128-bit 128-bit
VRAM 512MB/1GB 1GB
FP64 N/A N/A
Transistor Count N/A 716M
TDP N/A 66W
Architecture VLIW5 VLIW5
Manufacturing Process N/A TSMC 40nm

There are days I’d like to think that it’s the OEM market that’s the oddball, but the truth of the matter is that it’s the retail discrete market that’s the oddball. The OEM market – mobile and discrete – is in fact the norm, as OEM video card sales absolutely dwarf retail discrete video card sales. So much of what we take for granted with retail cards – well defined specifications and formal product announcements through press releases – simply don’t happen in the OEM market. Instead the OEM market is ambiguous on its best days and secretive at its worst, and as a result OEM-only products rarely get a formal announcement, and you would never know about some products if not for the fact that OEMs list them in their system specifications like HP did in this case. Ultimately because of the ambiguity in the OEM market and the need to push specifications, some of the most ridiculous video cards are launched here.

Technically speaking AMD already diluted the 7000 series last month with the launch of the 7000M series, which saw Turks’ and Caicos’ mobile counterparts reborn as various 7000M products. However as the OEM desktop is usually at least slightly saner than the mobile market we had some hope that the 7000M rebrand wouldn’t catch up to the desktop market, but this was not to be. It typically takes AMD around 6 months to launch a complete product stack so a Turks-like GCN product would be a spring/summer affair, but OEMs don’t want to wait that long, especially with CES right around the corner.

The problem of course with a Turks-based 7000 series product is that there just aren’t a lot of similarities to the other 7000 series products to speak of. Turks and Tahiti (and Cape Verde and Pitcairn) are distinctly different products from a feature set perspective. Southern Islands was the biggest GPU architectural overhaul for AMD in the last 5 years, creating a massive divide between Turks and Southern Islands.

The following is a list of some the important attributes and major features being introduced with Southern Islands. None of which will be available with the Turks based 7670.

  • TSMC’s 28nm HKMG process
  • Graphics Core Next architecture
  • PCI-Express 3.0
  • Direct3D 11.1
  • Partially Resident Texturing
  • Fast HDMI
  • Video Codec Engine (fixed function H.264 encoder)
  • DDM Audio
  • ZeroCore Power
  • Anisotropic Filtering Quality Improvements

As it stands Turks is still a fine GPU, but when badged as the 7670 this insane namespace collision makes it very hard to meaningfully differentiate between products. Do you want fast H.264 encoding and Direct3D 11.1 support? Then you want a Radeon HD 7000 series card, but now you have to make sure it’s not a 7670. Turks simply doesn't have enough in common with Southern Islands to justify this kind of a model number. Ultimately the launch of the 7670 brings with it the same problem that most other rebrands do, albeit on a larger scale: it's being sold on the well-earned strength of the 7000 series name but lacks the 7000 series' features.

Long term there will also be the question of whether we'll see the 7670 Turks in the retail market. OEM products sometimes cross over - the 6770 being the most recent example - so the 7670 may not stay OEM-only forever.

Update 01/06/2012: The crew over at Tom’s Hardware found AMD’s complete OEM video card page; the 7670 wasn't alone.

The Turks based 6570 is back as the 7570. The Caicos based 6450 is back as the 7470 and the 7450 (depending on the type of RAM used). And absurdly enough, the 2 year old Cedar based 5450 is back as the 7350. The last one is particularly notable as Cedar is from the Evergreen family, not Northern Islands. So it lacks all the features Northern Islands brought, including DisplayPort 1.2 support, improved anisotropic filtering, UVD3, MLAA, and the improved tessellation unit; all of this being on top of all of the differences between Northern Islands and Southern Islands.

  AMD Radeon HD 7570 AMD Radeon HD 7470 AMD Radeon HD 7450 AMD Radeon HD 7350
Stream Processors 480 160 160 80
Texture Units 24 8 8 8
ROPs 8 4 4 4
Core Clock 650MHz 750MHz 625MHz 400-650MHz
Memory Clock 1GHz (4GHz data rate) GDDR5 900MHz (3.6GHz data rate) GDDR5 800MHz (1.6GHz data rate) DDR3 800MHz DDR3/ 400MHz DDR2
Memory Bus Width 128-bit 64-bit 64-bit 64-bit
VRAM 512MB/1GB 512MB/1GB 512MB/1GB N/A
Transistor Count 716M 370M 370M 292M
Manufacturing Process TSMC 40nm TSMC 40nm TSMC 40nm TSMC 40nm
Architecture VLIW5 (Turks) VLIW5 (Caicos) VLIW5 (Caicos) VLIW5 (Cedar)

Meanwhile AMD’s web team appears to have made some mistakes listing specifications, which makes the 7000 series ambiguity even worse. The 7470 and 7570 are listed as having “Video Compression Engine (VCE)” support as a feature. As you may recall, SI introduced the Video Codec Engine (VCE), which is AMD’s fixed function encoder. Turks and Caicos of course have the same shader-based video encoding functionality as the rest of the 6000 and 5000 series, but they do not have a fixed function encoder, so we’re not sure how that ended up there. It’s worth noting that AMD had a similar problem with the 7970, which when initially published touted support for DX10 Super Sample Anti-Aliasing.

POST A COMMENT

33 Comments

View All Comments

  • coldpower27 - Friday, January 06, 2012 - link

    It's tolerable consider the jump is DirectX 11-> 11.1 which isn't that significant of a difference.

    As always Caveat Emptor I guess.
    Reply
  • MrSpadge - Thursday, January 05, 2012 - link

    Agreed.

    Although AMD probably does it, because the OEMs want to put higher numbers on their products.. which is what regular customers buy.

    MrS
    Reply
  • marraco - Friday, January 06, 2012 - link

    In other words, OEMs want to lie, cheat, and mislead customers to take his money.

    And AMD is fine with that.
    Reply
  • chiddy - Friday, January 06, 2012 - link

    Well, AMD do need to sell their GPUs! Reply
  • Wreckage - Friday, January 06, 2012 - link

    At least the NVIDIA products were worth buying. Not like these. Reply
  • haukionkannel - Thursday, January 05, 2012 - link

    I think that in old releases the low end cards were suposed to be usin oler vliw architecture. The reason is to allow crossfire between AMD APU chips and these new GPUs. The APUs use older vliv tecnology. GCN is coming to AMD APUs maybe in the next year (2013) if everything goes well, so AMD has to keep those old vliw cards in production at least as lon time... (actually longer, because they have to hava a crossfire option of those older APU's that are made today.
    We can only hope that these are 28nm... There seems not to be any information of that at this moment. If not, we have to stick 7700 series to 7900 series cards if we want to have upgrade of anykind. The only reason why they would use 40nm production is that TSMC don't have enough 28nm production capacity (it is possible) or that 40 nm are so much cheaper to produce (allso possible, but not in long run)
    One thing is sure. Even AMD 80xx series have some GPUs that are vliw based, because of the need for APU crossfire!
    Reply
  • chizow - Thursday, January 05, 2012 - link

    I can understand in this case the point of emphasis:

    "The following is a list of some the important attributes and major features being introduced with Southern Islands. None of which will be available with the Turks based 7670."

    That's a pretty big bullet list of missing features. In the past these kind of rebrands were understandable because the features and relative price and performance fell in line with newer generational offerings. Turks just really looks out of place in that 7-series stack mainly because AMD made so many changes with SI.

    Another concern is they usually bump the rebrand parts or equivalent shader count parts down one hundred spots in their naming convention, but not this time. Are the % gains of SI already spread so thin at the top that there's nothing left to shave? Probably less complaints if this was a 7570 instead of a 7670, but as it is it'll be the same performance as last year's model with none of the new features while filling the same market position.
    Reply
  • Natfly - Thursday, January 05, 2012 - link

    Rebrands are fine and all, but I want a 28nm mobile midrange. Something that seems unlikely to happen in the near future. I don't care if they simply shrink their VLIW5 or VLIW4 designs or update them with GCN. I just want better power consumption for light-mid range gaming.... Reply
  • Mr Perfect - Thursday, January 05, 2012 - link

    This reminds me of the rash of rebrandings in the mid 2000s. The tech support forums for the latest games would fill up with people who couldn't get the game to run correctly on their "new" video card. The game listed support for their series of cards, but since the card they had was really from the previous(or older) series, the game didn't work. What's even more mind blowing though, is the people would get mad at the game developers for not supporting their gimpy, half-assed rebranded card and not at the manufacturer/OEM who actually screwed them over. Threats of game returns, developer boycots and lawsuits followed... Reply
  • foxyshadis - Thursday, January 05, 2012 - link

    That debacle mostly taught devs to stop requiring a "series" of cards and start explicitly certifying DX or OGL version whatever, or very specific card numbers. Much harder on clueless consumers, but the devs have their asses covered from this kind of BS. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now