For those of you who don’t know every video card has a code name, something that is used internally until product launch. AMD has been using different island names for this, a good example would be Tahiti, the code name for the recently launched 7900 series cards. As you can tell from the title of this section, today we are taking a look at Cape Verde. Cape Verde is the code name for the HD 7700 series of cards, more specifically the HD 7770 and HD 7750. The HD 7700 series falls in well below the 7900 series and below the still unreleased Pitcairn series cards. As you can tell from the image below the die size of the Cape Verde cards is considerably smaller than the other two also.
According to Steams Hardware Survey in December the HD 5770 had a 28% market share, well above anything else being used on the market. The reason for this was its good performance, low power requirements, and good price. We here at LanOC have used these cards multiple times in Shuttle and other small form factor builds for those exact reasons. Don’t tell anyone else but one of our editors is still running on in his PC also. It was just that good of a card, but it is getting a little long in the tooth now with games like Crysis 2, BF3, and Batman pushing the limits. That’s where AMD is hoping to step in with the HD 7700 series. It is designed to use low wattage, perform well, and is priced at $159 for the HD 7770. A price point that most should be able to afford, that’s mowing around 8 yards give or take.
It’s important to point out that even though the price is considerably less than the HD 7900 series cards that you still will get all of the same features on the HD 7700 series cards.
How are they going to give you that performance increase over the original HD 5770 with the HD 7700 series cards? Well for one this is a new architecture unlike the 6770 who shared the same architecture as the HD 5770. The new architecture is based on 28nm technology meaning lower temperatures and a smaller die size. Because of that they are able to fit 640 Stream Processors and 512KB of L2 Read-Write cache. The 128-bit memory interface uses GDDR5 memory with a bandwidth of up to 72GB/s.
Here is the breakdown between both of the card’s specifications. You will find a lot of simularitys but the HD 7750 has been cut down considerably in performance. They did this with a lower clock speed (800MHz to 1 GHz), fewer stream processors (640 on the 7770, 512 on the 7750), and fewer texture units (40 on the 7770, 32 on the 7750). All of that results in less compute performance (1.28 TFLOPS on the 7770, 819 GFLOPS on the 7750) and also allows that HD 7750 to use 25 less wattage while under load.
AMD was very proud to talk to us about how much headroom is still left on each card. Even with the HD 7770 being the first reference card design to be introduced with a clock speed of 1,000 MHz, they still feel that there is more than enough room for overclockers to play.
I mentioned before the difference in power usage between the two cards but I just wanted to point out how great these cards will be for power usage. While in game AMD tells us that we should expect to see 80 watts being used on the HD 7770 and 55 watts on the HD 7750, numbers that are worlds apart from the 300 watts that the HD 7900 series uses per card. The HD 7750 uses so little that it doesn’t even need an additional power connection, pulling all of its power right off the PCI bus. What is also impressive is what AMD is calling its long idle state, when your PC is still running but with the display off. Both cards should use less than 3 watts in this state. That means you can leave your PC running when you walk away without worrying that it is sucking down the power.
Here are a couple shots of the reference HD 7750, because this review is for the HD 7770 only. We hope to get an HD 7750 in our hands soon to get it on the bench also.