In the bleeding edge world of technology, graphics cards are probably the bloodiest of them all. The new world’s fastest pixel-pusher is ATI’s 5970, essentially two of its (already pretty impressive) 5870 GPUs squashed into a single card for the considerable sum of £580.
Well, I say “squashed”, but by all accounts this card is a monster. It’s barely able to fit in even some serious enthusiast cases, extending further than the edge of a standard ATX motherboard by quite some margin (as this comparison image at Trusted Reviews shows).
Of course, the card needs plenty of space to dissipate heat when you’re fitting a frankly obscene 4.64 teraFLOPS of computing power in. For reference, just ten years ago, IBM’s ASCI Red supercomputer held the record for the world’s fastest and only managed a meagre 2.38 teraFLOPS. Back then, it cost around $1,000 per gigaFLOP (meaning $2.38 million total), so £600 isn’t all that bad.
Bit-tech.net clocked the 5970’s heat output at peak as just lower than its predecessor, the 4870X2. But then, who the hell is paying £600 for a graphics card without having liquid cooling or similar? Keep it nice and cool you can overclock it. Oh yes, there’s even more power than you think.
Dave James at TechRadar found that the 5970 “really does have a lot to give”. They managed to get the core clockspeeds from 750MHz to over 900MHz, while also increasing the memory from 1GHz to 1.2GHz. I’m not sure if I can handle thinking about performance at that level without a stiff drink. In fact, the overclocked card gave “a massive 93 per cent increase in [their] DX11 Heaven benchmark”. These dual-chip cards aren’t actually supposed to be twice as good as the single-chip versions. It’s against the laws of physics (or something).
Oh, and did I mention that you can stick two of these in your machine and CrossFire them if you’re some sort of billionaire mentalist? Considering that Bit-tech noted that this is “the first graphics card to deliver playable frame rates in Crysis at 2,560 x 1,600 with 0x AA 16x AF at High quality”, the CrossFire ability is just showing off.
The reviews all seem to come to similar conclusions. Yes, it is fastest graphics card so far. Yes, it is ridiculously large and expensive and, as Trusted Reviews point out, “if you own a single monitor then it’s simply overkill”. So, no, you probably shouldn’t really consider buying one.
But surely I’m not the only one considering abandoning food and hygiene products to be able to afford this?