Dual-GPU Radeon HD 7990 teased at GDC

AMD tackled the mid-range market last week with its new Radeon HD 7790, but the company now has its sights on the high end. At the Game Developers Conference, AMD teased its long-awaited dual-GPU, 7000-series graphics card, which finally has a name: the Radeon HD 7990.

AMD’s Devon Nekechuk holding up the 7990.

Source: AMD.

Our own Scott Wasson was on the scene at the unveiling, but it doesn’t sound like AMD had much to say. The company would only reveal that the 7990 will be the "world’s fastest graphics card" and that, thanks to its triple-fan cooler, it will be "whisper quiet." The card on display has four mini DisplayPort outputs alongside a single DVI port. Also, a few closeups I grabbed out of the slide deck reveal what appear to be two eight-pin PCI Express power connectors.

Source: AMD.

I thought the card looked familiar, and that’s because we’ve actually seen it in public before. At the AMD Fusion Developer Summit last June, AMD CTO Mark Papermaster held it up to the crowd instead of a FirePro W9000, seemingly by mistake. At the time, AMD’s graphics PR chief Dave Erskine told me the mystery card was a "dual-GPU product that will be released later this year"—meaning later in 2012. I guess AMD’s schedule wound up slipping a little.

You’ll find a higher-res picture of the card in the image gallery below.

Comments closed
    • jessterman21
    • 7 years ago

    Probably should avoid this thing like the plague until AMD gets Crossfire fixed.

    Which makes me wonder if the Battlefield 4 demo that AMD won’t stop tooting their HD 7990-shaped horn about would run at the same framerate with a single HD 7970…

    Or maybe just slightly better, because they definitely have Vsync on in the video.

      • jonjonjon
      • 7 years ago

      yea i was just thinking that. who in their right mind would buy this when they could get a titan or 690 instead? seems like amd is 6+ months too late with this.

        • chΒ΅ck
        • 7 years ago

        Maybe it’s cause I’m young, but while speculation is ok, shouldn’t we still wait until we see performance numbers?

    • ultima_trev
    • 7 years ago

    I wonder if it’s possible that Malta uses two Hainan cores rather than two Tahiti cores. I sure hope Hainan based products are released soon, this looks like it would be the price/performance sweetspot.

    • Krogoth
    • 7 years ago

    These cards are just FireGL rejects just like Titans are just K20 rejects.

    It is AMD’s knee-jerk response to Titan and trying to capture the throne. The “7990” is still inferior to the Titan since it suffers from all of the drawbacks of a multi-GPU setup just like GTX 690.

      • Airmantharp
      • 7 years ago

      I recall the GTX690 providing better frame-time consistency than GTX680 SLi, and there’s no reason AMD couldn’t make use of the same design and signaling advantages that putting both GPU’s on the same pre-determined PCB with the same controllers that Nvidia did. But I agree that it appears to be a response to Titan, though you’d think they would have wanted this to respond to the GTX690 too.

        • Krogoth
        • 7 years ago

        690 has the advantage of having all of the hardware sharing the same local bus, rather being separated by PCIe lanes and controller on the motherboard/CPU found in a normal SLI/CF setup. It makes it easier to optimize the software to mitigate the latency and shuttering issues.

          • Airmantharp
          • 7 years ago

          Which is my point- why can’t AMD do the same thing, especially knowing that it’s such an issue for their current products?

          And I do agree that these chips are all ‘rejects,’ though I’m not sure that is a bad thing. If there’s a top tier of the most ‘pristine’ copies, I’d expect those to go into the highest-end product. Intel does this with Xeons, and I don’t consider the GPU’s that aren’t Quadros/Teslas/FireGLs to be any lower quality than I would a Sandy or Ivy quad that isn’t a Xeon.

            • Krogoth
            • 7 years ago

            They are lower quality if accuracy is the primary concern. Accuracy is #1 in the HPC and enterprise sector. Games are much more forgiving in this regard. Who cares if few of the polygons on a complex model are using a triangle instead of a square? πŸ˜‰

            As for the reason for the 7990’s late “official” depute? Power consumption. Tahiti silicon when loaded eats more juice then GK104 silicon. The third-party “7990s” are marginally faster than 690, but are Xbox-huge and sound like a jet-engine when loaded.

            • Airmantharp
            • 7 years ago

            Krogoth, I think you’re posting under the influence. Your points stick, but don’t appear to match up to the post they’re attached to! But that’s okay. πŸ™‚

            First point is a given; the quality is put where it’s needed most, be it Xeons or Quadros or whatever, and this is a good thing for everyone involved, as long as we don’t get repeats of the 465GTX or HD5830. They can throw those away.

            Second point is assumed, and actually a real question here: putting two Tahiti’s on a stick is a whole lot harder than putting two GK104’s on a stick. If it had been two GK110’s, the scales could be balanced in the other direction, but that leads to the third point: AMD has been sucking wind and knocking the dB scales out of the park with their own coolers, while Nvidia has made a very concerted effort to make their first-party coolers a selling point instead of a drawback.

            And that’s what has me curious about this part- if AMD puts the effort into it to make it competitive with the GTX690 on all fronts, instead of just performance (assuming they fix the drivers), they will have performed a miracle, AND they’d be putting real pressure on Nvidia on the top end. And the more pressure the better!

            • Fighterpilot
            • 7 years ago

            The power and performance of HD7970 XFire without the latency of dual cards surely makes it a decent alternative to Crossfire?
            If they price it about the same as 2 of those it will still be cheaper than GTX680SLI and will probably demolish single GPU Titan.
            @krogoth:Wait for the release reviews….

    • Waco
    • 7 years ago

    I don’t get it.

    Last year (or whenever) AMD said they wouldn’t be doing a dual 7970 card…so third-party companies made the 7990.

    Now, AMD is making a reference card…why?

      • GeForce6200
      • 7 years ago

      I too am confused? Unless vendors had imperfections in their attempts I don’t see why they would announce. I guess their drivers will take advantage and recognize it as a ref. card? That would be my guess if the third party ones were not supported and had driver issues or you had too use the man drivers, which may not be that great overall. Either way the want the fastest single card GPU title taken away from Nvidia with their GTX690/Titan.

        • Airmantharp
        • 7 years ago

        And as nice as it would be to see AMD put some price pressure on Nvidia, that’s not likely to happen- the GTX690 is the smoothest and quietest way to get that much performance in anything smaller than an ATX triple-GPU setup.

          • Waco
          • 7 years ago

          There’s no price pressure to be had.

          Even if they priced the 7990 below what two 7970s would cost…I can’t see many buying it over a pair of 670s or a 690.

          I loved my 4870X2…but only because I got it for far less than the cost of a pair of 4870s and I didn’t have a CrossFire capable board. I haven’t seen a dual-GPU card with that kind of value ever since.

            • Airmantharp
            • 7 years ago

            Yup- you’d expect the convenience to come at a price, and it damn near always does. But with unlimited funds (and a taste for LAN gaming I’ve long lost) it would be interesting to put a GTX690 into a Silverstone ITX system!

    • smilingcrow
    • 7 years ago

    The employee holding the card is called Nekchuk and he looks as if he’s about to use it as a throwing weapon judging by his arm positions.
    Looking forward to the HD 7990 Chuck Norris Edition which comes with an internal battery so when the card is unplugged it powers the fans at 5k RPM after pressing the red Ninja button. Take that Jen-Hsun Huang, in the face.

    • Pantsu
    • 7 years ago

    This is practically the worst timing to release a dual gpu flagship for AMD, given that CF is practically broken and won’t be fixed until July earliest. I don’t see this as anything but a weak knee-jerk reaction to Titan. We’ve had 7990 cards for a good while and a reference card brings absolutely nothing new to the table, other than a bunch of (bad) PR for AMD in the form of reviews.

      • Prestige Worldwide
      • 7 years ago

      Agree. This card would have been relevant if it was released a year ago. Too late to the party IMO.

      • beck2448
      • 7 years ago

      100% AGREE!. This card is a joke, and its amazing how the AMD marketing guys lie their asses off about fastest card in the world. Yeah if you include unrendered runt frames in your fps number and ignore latency that is 5x slower than Titan. Right now its no faster in reality than a single 7970.
      [url<]http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/hardware-canucks-reviews/60166-nvidia-gtx-titan-vs-sli-crossfire-15.html[/url<] AMD needs to fix this stuff pronto.

        • ThorAxe
        • 7 years ago

        Agreed. AMD has serious problems when even their sponsored games Crossfires real-world performance is no better than a single 7970.
        [url<]http://www.pcper.com/reviews/Graphics-Cards/Frame-Rating-Dissected-Full-Details-Capture-based-Graphics-Performance-Test-5[/url<]

    • Chrispy_
    • 7 years ago

    These things are about the most boring products to be released. They offer nothing other than the ability to plug two equivalent GPUs into a single PCI-E socket.

    They have similar power requirements to a pair of equivalent GPUs and they’re so big that it’s basically impossible to squeeze one into anything smaller than an mATX case, which already has at least two double-width PCI-E slots.

    The downsides are obviously cost, price, noise, cooling issues, throttling, bridge-chip overhead, bandwidth reduction etc.

    WHAT
    IS
    THE
    POINT?

      • brucethemoose
      • 7 years ago

      e-peen

      You also drastically overestimate other’s intelligence.

      • Silus
      • 7 years ago

      These are halo products and they exist to create mind-share of who has the fastest graphics card.
      I’m fine with that. What I don’t get is how long they took to even show this. The only explanation that makes sense to me is that they simply could not control the power draw of two Tahiti chips in the same package and since just reducing clock speeds or cutting functional units would hinder their performance target, they re-spined the chip, which would explain this timing…

      • My Johnson
      • 7 years ago

      The point is learning the frustration of having your mammoth video card interfering with the lower HDD cages.

        • Airmantharp
        • 7 years ago

        One would assume that grabbing what’s going to be a ~$1000 card would cause you to plan around the physical aspects…

      • derTorbs
      • 7 years ago

      What is the point? I believe you answered that yourself…

      [quote=”Chrispy_”<] They offer nothing other than the ability to plug two equivalent GPUs into a single PCI-E socket.[/quote<]

        • GeForce6200
        • 7 years ago

        They also offer great temps………

          • Chrispy_
          • 7 years ago

          For your room on a cold winter’s day, yes πŸ˜›

    • brute
    • 7 years ago

    i thought he had a gay, flowery scarf until i realized he had a graphics card

    • Silus
    • 7 years ago

    So they’re still trying to release this thing ? What’s the point ?
    The time it took for them to do so, can only mean that they had some serious problems in containing the power draw of this thing. In fact, scratch that, I’m thinking they had to do a respin of the 7970 chip in order to manage the power draw, even with two 8 pin.

      • brute
      • 7 years ago

      your not being the first post can only mean you had complications with your morning bathroom ritual. maybe you fell in the toilet or you ate too much cheese. after all, there can only be a single factor leading to any perceived failure!

        • Silus
        • 7 years ago

        And instead of idiotic responses, you could actually provide an alternative explanation for my very plausible (that already happened in the past) explanation. But hey, I’m not getting my hopes up. Nonsense is what usually gets you up-voted around here.

          • Srsly_Bro
          • 7 years ago

          Remind me to not fall in the toilet.

            • moose17145
            • 7 years ago

            Not gonna lie…. legit luled.

    • chuckula
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]Dual-GPU Radeon HD 7990 teased at GDC[/quote<] That's not very nice! Those other GPUs are obviously just jealous.

    • Neutronbeam
    • 7 years ago

    So…anything under NDA that you can’t talk about but would like to mention…wink wink nudge nudge say no more? πŸ˜‰

    edit–added “no”

    • willmore
    • 7 years ago

    Two PCI-E 8 pin power connectors. So, it *could* suck down a lot of power if/when it wants to.

    I wonder if we’ll see any 7790 like power management in this card to help keep average power usage down.

      • cynan
      • 7 years ago

      If you’re in the market for a card in this tier (GTX Titan/690), what’s another 75 watts max power draw (vs a 6 and 8 pin)? Besides, doesn’t the 690 have two 8-pin as well? (As probably should Titan to get the most out of it). I’m actually surprised it doesn’t have a third PCIe power connector like [url=http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814131479<]Powercolor's older version[/url<]; they must be binning higher ASIC chips for these things.

        • willmore
        • 7 years ago

        The article mentions that the card is supposed to be quiet even at load. That implies it either has a very good cooling system or it does something to limit its power draw. Probably some of both.

        I’m not very concerned with what other devices do, I’m just interested in how AMD has addressed the dual-GPU single card power/sound problem with this card.

          • Airmantharp
          • 7 years ago

          I’d love to see them offer the same performance as a GTX690 in the same power envelope- it means that there’s hope for next year’s 28nm cards yet!

          • cynan
          • 7 years ago

          As Tahiti is a larger chip and therefore has a higher tdp than the Kepler in the 680 and 690, it’s a bigger feat that these cards only have 2 pcie plugs on them. As long as performance hasn’t been crippled. This is made more evident by the 3x 8-pin design of powercolor’s older version.

    • mevans336
    • 7 years ago

    I find it disturbing that their [b<]CTO[/b<] didn't notice the difference in a FirePro and as-yet-unreleased consumer part. How did an unreleased part even make it to the show and wind up in a position to be shown on stage?

      • shank15217
      • 7 years ago

      they look very similar, nice try

        • Goty
        • 7 years ago

        Yeah, no they don’t. It was pointed out very clearly after FDS by many around the web that the card shown was clearly not the W9000 as the W9000 did not have the specs to be a dual-GPU card.

          • NeelyCam
          • 7 years ago

          I missed you! Let’s have a debate about something!

      • Goty
      • 7 years ago

      You’re assuming he didn’t know and that it was actually a mistake.

    • thill9
    • 7 years ago

    So they FIRST presented this card almost a year ago. Did the market finally mature? Or was it the PLX bridge chip that slowed this down?

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