CES 2009: AMD

by: John -
For CES 2009, AMD announced their Dragon platform as well as a new mobility GPU line. I touched on Dragon earlier but I didn’t get to see it in person. Even so, the new ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4000 series should get mobile gamers a great discrete option for their gaming and multimedia needs.

The ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4000 series comes in a few different flavors catering the mainstream, performance, and enthusiast crowds. It’s important to know that the Mobility HD 4000 series contains the same feature set as the desktop Radeon HD 4000 series.  So DirectX 10.1, enhanced AA, and AF, HDMI with sound, stream processors, and so forth are there. The 4800 series will have GDDR5 memory so you’re looking at ultra-fast memory on a mobile platform.

For power users, you have the HD 4600 and HD 4500 line. While the naming convention might not make it seem that big of a difference, there are some significant changes between the two.  You’re looking at 320 vs. 80 stream processors, 128-bit vs. 64-bit memory bus width, and less transistors in the HD 4500. The upside to that though for the HD 4500 is that it has a lower power usage so that equates to longer battery life in the laptop.  The HD 4500 series also will not do any DVD upscaling unlike its higher end brothers.

For slim computers you will probably be looking at the Mobility Radeon HD 4330. It’s still capable of outputting 1080p video and has similar specs with the HD 4500 series but the clock speeds are slower.  Again, no DVD upscaling but the power requirements will also be less as well.

From the picture below you can see physically what the Mobility Radeon HD 4000 series looks like. From left to right are the mainstream, performance, and enthusiast products.  You can see the differences in sizes of the GPU as well as the amount of memory chips that are on board. Also, all three have the same pin configuration as well making it easy for OEMS to plug in the specific card they want without having to change the specifics of the board to match the graphics solution.

Products using the ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4000 should start trickling in here soon but there’s still plenty life in the past generation. You can expect up to 1.8X more performance in the Mobility Radeon HD 4000 over the previous generation of discrete mobile GPU which makes it a very good choice for gaming and multimedia especially since it retains all the features of the desktop version.

My second part of the time with AMD was spent looking at Battle Forge from EA. BattleForge is going to be using DirectX 10.1 so they felt it would be important to demonstrate a title using that feature and with an ATI card. For those that don’t know, BattleForge is an RTS game which is primary troop management and played using digital cards similar to Magic the Gathering. You’ll be able to buy booster packs as well as sell and trade with other players in the game. The object is to build up a deck and go into battle. You can build as many decks as you like as well as add cards to your deck by purchasing booster packs. Booster packs will be the only thing that EA will be charging for. The graphics look gorgeous with many small effects that really add to the atmosphere of the game. I asked what DX 10.1 did for the game and the EA rep said performance increase was one major advantage. BattleForge looks unique and fun to play and I’m sure the RTS guys here at Gaming Nexus will be able to tell you more once they get their hands on it.
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