So youíre stuck with integrated graphics. The lure of an affordable $399 desktop PC was just too much to pass up. Unfortunately however, youíre now finding that your PCís integrated graphics arenít quite capable of keeping up with your Left 4 Dead 2 or Team Fortress addiction, much less a more graphically advanced game like Crysis or Batman: Arkham Asylum. You now need a faster graphics card, but canít afford to shell out the $100 for something newer like a Radeon 5700 series GPU, instead your budget is about $50-$60. What do you do?
ATIís hoping youíll opt for a Radeon 5450 graphics card. The 5450 is ATIís newest graphics offering for the entry-level segment of the graphics market. Based on ATIís ďCedarĒ graphics core, itís fully DirectX 11 compliant and features 80 stream processors running at 650MHz. It isnít exactly a blistering 3D performer (but nothing else is in this price bracket), as itís designed to be a small, efficient chip thatís inexpensive to produce and priced to move.
If historyís any indication, PC builders will buy these chips by the truckload for use in value PCs, but the Radeon 5450 has one additional trick up its sleeve that should improve its appeal beyond just the budget shoppers that flock to these cards: Eyefinity. With support for up to three displays, the 5450 should appeal to businesses as well. After all, studies have shown that adding monitors improves employee productivity.
Never before has a $50 graphics card offered support for up to three monitors. This feature alone could potentially sell more Radeon 5450 cards for ATI than any other.
We say this in large part because this is arguably the most groundbreaking new feature found in the Radeon 5450. Sure, DX11 and HDMI 1.3a compliance is important, but with just 80 shaders the 5450 doesnít have the horsepower to run a DX11 title with its eye candy effects turned up very far and still deliver playable performance. As youíll see in the following chart, many key performance metrics are only up slightly over its predecessor, the Radeon 4350:
|Radeon 5450 Specifications|
|Radeon 4350 256MB DDR2||Radeon 5450 512MB DDR3|
|Graphics Core Clock Speed||600MHz||650MHz|
|Texture Fill-rate||4.8 Gigatexels/sec||5.2 Gigatexels/sec|
|Pixel Fill-rate||2.4 Gpixels/sec||2.6 Gpixels/sec|
|Memory Clock Speed||500MHz||Up to 800MHz|
|Memory Bandwidth||8.0GB/sec||Up to 12.8GB/sec|
|Typical Board Power||20W||19.2W|
As you can see, both the Radeon 4350 and 5450 feature an 80 stream processor architecture. The number of texture units and ROPs is also the same for both GPUs. ATI merely bumps up the graphics core clock in order to deliver improved fill rates.
Thanks to lower memory prices, ATI is able to integrate 512MB of faster 800MHz DDR3 memory. This has a significant impact on peak memory bandwidth Ė 12.8GB/sec versus 8GB/sec previously. Itís here where the Radeon 5450 delivers the most significant improvement over the 4350.
As you can see in the comparison chart though, we mentioned ďup to 800MHz memoryĒ and ďup to 12.8GB/sec memory bandwidthĒ. This is because ATI is giving their board partners leeway on the 5450ís memory speeds and memory types. Weíve been told that board partners will be shipping 5450 boards with both DDR2 and DDR3 memory running at a range of memory speeds depending on the final price point the ATI board partner wants to target.
Juniper meets Cedar
Radeon 5450 up top, compared to the 4350
ATI has told us that theyíre urging their partners to be as clear as possible when it comes to listing memory type and speed, but itís ultimately going to be in the hands of their board partners to police themselves. Bottom line: youíll want to read the specs list closely before forking over your hard-earned cash on a new Radeon 5450 card.
Like ATIís other Radeon 5000 series GPUs, Cedar is built on TSMCís 40-nm manufacturing process. Transistor count weighs in at 292 million transistors, thatís 50 million more transistors than RV710. Thanks to the smaller process though, die size is down from 73 square millimeters in RV710 to just 59 sq.mm for Cedar.