The ATI Radeon HD 4000 series made its debut with the Radeon HD 4870 and HD 4850 in June last year. Little did we know that these were the cards that heralded the comeback of ATI. More importantly, it marked the beginning of a new strategy for the graphics chip giant. Instead of going all out with NVIDIA for the performance crown, ATI focused their efforts on producing an efficient mainstream performance GPU that would have an unbeatable price/performance ratio.
The end result was the RV700 chip. With the chip in hand, expanding their line-up from thereon was simple. Enthusiast-class products would make use of a multi-GPU solution, whereas mainstream and budget-class cards were achieved by having cut down versions (by disabling stream processors) of the original chip. This strategy proved to be a huge success as the value offered by the Radeon HD 4800 series was so compelling that it forced NVIDIA to slash prices of their equally new GeForce GTX 280 and 260. It would not be hyperbole to say that NVIDIA severely underestimated the performance and value of ATI's Radeon HD 4800 cards.
Following the success of the Radeon HD 4870 and HD 4850, ATI invaded the budget segment with the Radeon 4600 series and later the Radeon 4350 and 4550, while the massive dual-GPU Radeon HD 4870 X2 satiated enthusiasts' lust for power. The Radeon 4000 series ended on a forward-looking note with the Radeon 4700 series, a low to mid-end graphics solution, the first GPU manufactured on a 40nm process that would be the bedrock for the next-gen Radeon. And rounding it off, ATI introduced the formidable Radeon HD 4890, the first GPU in the world to achieve 1GHz clock speeds
at the core. All in all, the Radeon 4000 series was a great success, firmly marking ATI's return to "the game".
It won't be easy to follow up on success of the Radeon 4000 series, but it is finally here, ATI's next-generation graphics chip. Codenamed Evergreen, the new Radeon 5000 series debuts with the Radeon 5800 line of mainstream performance graphics cards. These new cards utilize the latest 40nm RV800 chip which boasts many technical advances. Before we continue, here's a quick look at how ATI's latest card compares against its predecessors and competition.