AMD unveils 'world's fastest' graphics card

The chipmaker continues its assault on Nvidia at the high-end of the graphics chip market by laying claim to the world's fastest graphics card.

Advanced Micro Devices is laying claim to the world's fastest graphics card at it continues an assault on Nvidia at the high-end of the graphics chip market.

ATI Radeon HD 5970 packs two fast graphics chips
HD 5970 packs two fast graphics chips Advanced Micro Devices

As teased last week by AMD senior vice president Rick Bergman at a financial analyst meeting, the "Hemlock" graphics card--now officially called the ATI Radeon HD 5970--is AMD's top-of-the-line graphics product.

"It's in production. You'll be able to buy it at e-tailers around the world...Five Teraflops out of this baby," Bergman said last week. A teraflop is a trillion floating point operations per second, a key indicator of graphics performance.

Review site Tom's Hardware called it the "fastest discrete (standalone) card in the world."

The card integrates two graphics processing units (GPUs) for a total of 4.3 billion transistors. It also boasts 3,200 stream processing units and 160 texture units--tiny individual processors for accelerating graphics. And it supports Microsoft's DirectX 11 for speeding up graphics in Windows 7.

The 5970 will ship in Area-51 ALX and Aurora desktops from Dell's Alienware unit and allow "massive overclocking," according to AMD. Overclocking allows users to ratchet up chip speeds beyond the card's specified rating. "The unrivaled overclocking capabilities of the ATI Radeon HD 5970 are enabled by the unique design of the card, which features advanced fan and vapor chamber technologies and a fully vented exhaust to keep the card cool and ensure overclocking headroom using ATI Overdrive technology," AMD said in a statement.

A maximum resolution of 7680x1600 is achieved by driving up to up to three displays at once.

AMD cited games that will benefit from the card such as Electronic Art's Phenomic's BattleForge, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat (GSC Game World), Battlefield Bad Company 2 (EA Dice), DiRT 2 (Codemasters), Aliens vs. Predator (Rebellion), and the update to The Lord of the Rings Online (Turbine).

Though prices will vary, some retailers are currently listing the price at $599.

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