So Why DID This Happen?

We asked, and AMD answered. They did not test the review samples before they sent them out to reviewers. We can usually expect to recieve boards that have not been fully QA'd, as that can take a while, but when ever we get new boards or software companies tend to make sure that what we are getting works right. Apparently AMD was in such a rush to get reviewers parts for launch that they didn't have time to run even a basic check after the cards came back from the factory (which ever company they use to build their reference boards).

So the answer is that they were in a hurry and assumed that the correct BIOS would be installed. It wasn't and they didn't catch it.

Now, apparently there were some review samples that had the correct BIOS on them. We aren't sure who received those samples, but AMD indicated that it was based on how early the sample was sent out. Those who got later batches were more likely to have boards with the correct BIOS.

So why won't this happen in the wild? Because AMD's board partners all QA the boards they sell and because they all had a different version of the BIOS (one that functioned correctly) from the beginning.

We've been doing this for a long time, and there are times where an engineering sample or some pre-alpha something or other will have major problems. The closer it is to ready the less disastrous the testing experience tends to be. Sometimes review hardware has big issues too, perhaps with power saving optimizations or fan control. We've have stability issues on plenty of review samples.

These type of problems tend to be easily noticable, and can usually be fixed or worked around. But we tend to know what's wrong (or even that there is something wrong). In most cases these issues are taken care of before hardware makes it into the hands of end users. In this case, there shouldn't be anything for end users to worry about either.

But this is still sort of a big deal. Not because it impacts the hardware people will buy, but because it invalidates the evaluations of many of the reviews that went live on launch day. You only get one chance to make a first impression, and the diminished performance from these errant review samples could leave a false impression on those who are most likely to keep up, read, and recommend graphics hardware.

We were softer on the Radeon 4830 than on the other RV7xx hardware we've reviewed. Yes, we still saw it as a part that offers a lot of value, but the price competition from NVIDIA has been heavy and there are more powerful cards that can be had for maybe $30 more with all the mail in rebates going around.

So what do we think now that we've seen the newly flashed Radeon HD 4830 in action? Well let's take a look at the numbers first.

Index Performance Improvement with 8 SIMDs
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  • CEO Ballmer - Sunday, October 26, 2008 - link

    You people need to give Vista a second chance too!


    http://fakesteveballmer.blogspot.com">http://fakesteveballmer.blogspot.com
    Reply
  • JonnyDough - Sunday, October 26, 2008 - link

    a button. My guess is that AMD did this intentionally to get more people talking about their card. Reply
  • Griswold - Sunday, October 26, 2008 - link

    Oh yea, I'm sure the somewhat unfavorable comparisons to the 9800GT in a number of reviews because of this mishap will magically turn into an advantage too.

    Glad you're not responsible for any marketing at AMD - you'd proof that it *can* get worse. :P
    Reply
  • MrSpadge - Sunday, October 26, 2008 - link

    from what you're writing it's clear that the x-axis indicates "performance improvement in %", but it's not written there. Professional graphs need proper axis. Reply
  • RagingDragon - Saturday, October 25, 2008 - link

    So will be seeing a 4810 with 480 or 560 SP's? That'd fit nicely in between the 4670 and 4830...

    Also, are there any idications whether all 4830 will be made from partially disabled/defective dies? Or will AMD be fabbing smaller 4830 specific RV770's?
    Reply
  • Goty - Saturday, October 25, 2008 - link

    I highly doubt AMD would try to produce an entirely new chip for the 4830. The more SKUs you have, the more waste you get. The 4830 is a cost recuperating measure for the dice that don't make the bin for the 4850 or 4870. Reply
  • DerekWilson - Saturday, October 25, 2008 - link

    if the 4830 overtakes the 4850 and 4870 combined in volume and amd runs out of parts binned for the lower performance part, they may need to make 4830s out of some GPUs that could handle higher performance.

    but there's a lot of ifs and such in that one. it's not impossible that some GPUs could be capable of running with all SIMDs enabled. but it might also be impossible to make the card tell the GPU to turn them all on (depending on how AMD has built the thing).

    Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Saturday, October 25, 2008 - link

    Hehehe, "dice". The last time I used them was in a tabletop D&D session. The last time I used real physical ones you could hold, anyway.

    The plural of "die" is "dies" for a manufactured physical component like a processor, or anything else for that matter. Pretty much any reliable online (and especially paper) dictionary will agree.

    Talking about CPU dice is good for a light-hearted comment, but not for anything else.
    Reply
  • Griswold - Sunday, October 26, 2008 - link

    No, smartpants. Both works just fine. Open your eyes to the real world and you'll see. Reply
  • Goty - Saturday, October 25, 2008 - link

    Most industry documents would disagree. Reply

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