Today's Hard|Forum Post
Today's Hard|Forum Post

AMD Radeon HD 6990 "Antilles" Sneek Peek

It is here in our hands and it screams. "Performance!" The wait is nearly over as AMD's next generation "Antilles" video card sporting two high performance GPUs on a single printed circuit board is in our hands. We comment on our gameplay experiences in Dragon Age II in Triple-Display Eyefinity.

Introduction

This preview will serve as an early hands-on preview of the AMD Radeon HD 6990 dual-GPU video card from AMD. The Radeon HD 6990 video card will be the successor to the Radeon HD 5970.

The specifications and performance of this video card are currently under embargo. In fact AMD even wants the video card's name kept low key at this point. The only reason we can even tell you the name of the video card is because it was revealed as public knowledge back during the Radeon HD 6870 launch. It was shown in a slide then that the dual-GPU video card above the Radeon HD 6970 would be code named "Antilles" and called the "Radeon HD 6990." Therefore, we will refer to Antilles as Radeon HD 6990 throughout this preview.

While we cannot reveal the specifications or framerate numbers to you today, we will say this, we are happy with what AMD has provided. The specifications are everything HardOCP had hoped for. We think gamers will be pleased with the hardware. This video card is better out-of-the-gate than the Radeon HD 5970 ever was.

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Our video card came to us in this stealthy and shiny briefcase. Upon opening it we were pleased to see the Radeon HD 6990. At this time, all we can show you is this single photograph of the reverse side of the video card, proving it has two GPUs on board. There will be more photographs to come later.

Dragon Age II

In this preview what we are going to look at is gameplay experience in a brand new game from BioWare shipping on March 8th, 2011 called Dragon Age II. Dragon Age II is the latest installment to the Dragon Age series. New in Dragon Age II is support for DX11 and several DX11 specific image quality features. You will find Tessellation along with Geometry Displacement Effects used to transform the landscape in Dragon Age II. Some other important DX11 features used are Advanced Dynamic Lights, Contact Hardening Soft Shadows and Diffusion Depth of Field. Screen Space Ambient Occlusion (SSAO) is also supported and works in both the DX9 and DX11 modes.

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Unfortunately our copy of the full version of the game did not arrive at all as was promised for this preview, so we are going to have to use the public Demo. In the Demo you cannot enabled the "Very High" quality option which enables the advanced DX11 features. Therefore, for the Demo, we are not able to use Tessellation, Advanced Dynamic Lights, Soft Shadows or Diffusion Depth of Field. However, the Demo does run in the DX11 code path, but those specific features will not be enabled. We are also able to have SSAO as a usable option, along with the in-game AA and AF sliders. Once we get our hands on the full version game we can test it out on the Radeon HD 6990 in all its image quality goodness.

The demo is also unfortunately quite limited in that we cannot save games. Each time you exit the demo, you have to start it again from the very beginning, which can be annoying. Since we cannot reveal performance numbers to you today, we don't have to worry about doing timed run-throughs. We are simply going to play the game on the Radeon HD 6990 and relate to you our experiences and our gameplay settings. We have also tested this Demo on a single-GPU Radeon HD 6970 and can tell you how that compares in terms of playable game settings.

We are running the Radeon HD 6990 in an Triple-Display Eyefinity configuration. We are using three Dell 2408WFP displays in a 3x1 configuration. The native resolution with this setup is 5760x1200 and that is what we are going to test Dragon Age II at on the Radeon HD 6990. Configuring Eyefinity was quite easy with this video card and the new Beta drivers AMD provided us with. It looks like Eyefinity setup is going to get a whole lot easier in the new driver. AMD has made menu improvements that make setting up Eyefinity a cinch; not that it was overly complicated to begin with.