O 5800, 5800, Wherefor Art Thou 5800?

Rumors are rampant and the BS is deep when it comes to AMD and its 5800 series video cards actually being in stock for purchase at e-tailers and retailers. HardOCP aims to get some straight answers to let our readers know what all this means to you and how it could impact your 5870 or 5850video card purchase.


O 5800, 5800, wherefore art thou 5800?

Deny thy GPU and refuse thy branding;

Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my pixel lust

And I'll no longer be a Gamer.

Not often that we get to "quote" Shakespeare around HardOCP, but it seemed fitting. I know there are a lot of gamers and hardware enthusiasts right now that feel a bit scorn by AMD and its lacking ability to quench their thirst for a new performance video card. Recent statements from some of AMD's employees have left the enthusiast a bit confused and worried, but we are here to give you the straight no-BS scoop on what is going on with AMD's ATI Radeon HD 5870 and 5850 video cards.


We do know a few things about 5800 GPU availability and goals. AMD was looking to have about 500K GPUs / video cards into the channel by the year end, but that does not look like it will possibly be happening.

We do know that while supplies of 5800 series cards have been low, there has certainly been a steady stream of these cards getting to e-tailers and retailers.

We do know that there has been a solid demand for these 5800 series cards and the low supply has driven the price up at different e-tailers and retailers as should be expected.

We do know that many of you are a bit pissed off since you can’t buy one easily.

So what is going to change?

Dave Baumann Sez

We just got done with a short but specific conversation with AMD's Product Manager for the 5800 series, Dave Baumann, this morning. From what we are told, Dave is the person we need to be speaking with when it comes to Radeon 5800 series availability. Instead of wasting your time with a quoted interview, here are bullet points on what Dave had to say when questioned. These comments have been paraphrased, but the meaning has not be taken out of context in any way.

  • TSMC is steadily rolling out production of 5800 series GPUs albeit at a slower rate than AMD wishes. There are daily production runs of 5800 series GPUs.
  • AMD’s Add-in-Board (AIBs) partners are currently shipping thousands of 5800 series video cards per week on a worldwide basis.
  • The number of 5800 series video cards that have been shipped into the channel already is in the very "high tens of thousands."
  • While currently there are thousands of video cards shipped on a weekly basis, we will likely see this weekly number reach into the "tens of thousands" come late November or early December. This hinges on whether or not AIBs keep air freighting video cards. The likelihood of air shipments to continue is very high, but AMD does not directly control this.
  • Should air freighting continue we are still not going to see "mass widespread availability" by years end, but certainly supply will continue.
  • Most of these 5800 video cards are moving into e-tail and retail sales while the great minority are going into OEM sales.
  • Expect "well into the hundreds of thousands" of 5800 video cards to be shipped into the channel by year’s end.
  • Expect no issues with 5700 stocks.
  • TSMC is still having some 40nm production issues, but as you can see from the points listed above, production is not close to a standstill and has ramped up greatly in the last 30 days. TSMC also has new 40nm machines as of September and that capacity is starting to now come online.
  • The current mix of 5870 and 5850 cards is running approximately 50/50.

The Bottom Line

The fact of the matter is that 5800 series video card e-tail and retail availability sucks right now. That is not to say these cards are not hitting the shelves, there are just so few of them spread out globally at the moment, that when a card does actually go into stock, those cards are sold immediately. I know we have many readers waiting like hawks for a 5800 card to stick its head out of the grass. If you are impatient, the 5800 is likely not for you, but if you have a bit of time to stake out your target, the elusive 5800 can be had, and it will get simpler to lay your hands on one in the next few weeks.

The other sad side to this story is that the competition is not showing up any time soonآ…like we have been telling you for a couple of months now. Here is a quote from our Radeon 5850 Review from September that still rings very much true.

If you are waiting for NVIDIA to jump out of the GPU closet with a 5800 killer and put the fear into you for making a 5800 series purchase for Halloween, we suggest paper dragons are not that scary. We feel as though it will be mid-to-late Q1’10 before we see anything pop out of NVIDIA’s sleeve besides its arm.

When considering the fact that there is basically no competition in the marketplace and supplies are low, the consumer is not going to benefit from competitive pricing. I would not expect to find any "super" pricing deals on 5800 cards till next year.

The "good" in all of is that we are sure that 5800 GPU production is scaling and that is going to equate into more 5800 series video cards for us to buy before Christmas. We still just might have to be a bit diligent in our purchasing efforts though.

The other good in all of this is that we are already seeing 5800 series drivers mature, giving gamers a better experience.

If you would like to get some firsthand 5800 experience, join AMD and HardOCP in Dallas this weekend for the Eyefinity Challenge.