AMD Radeon HD 7850 & HD 7870 Launch Review

Product: AMD Radeon HD 7800 Series
Company: AMD
Author: James Prior
Editor: Charles Oliver
Date: March 4th, 2012

MLAA and SSAA v2

AMD added several hardware visual quality improvements in GCN, with which we saw improvements in Anisotropic Filtering quality. Now, AMD follows up with improvements to their software filtering, in the form of MLAA v2 and SSAA improvements.

AF Mipmap transition
AF Angle Dependence

AMD's Sparse Grid Supersample Anti-Aliasing mode was made available for DX10 and DX11 based titles with AMD Catalyst 12.2, a long overdue feature. AMD is now tweaking that algorithm, to offer automatic LoD adjustment to offer sharper textures. This improvement will appear in AMD Catalyst 12.3 Preview and AMD Catalyst 12.4.

Sparse Grid Supersample Anti-Aliasing

Morphological Anti-Aliasing also gets an update, increasing performance and image quality compared to the version first seen in Catalyst 10.10. Like AMD's updated SGSSAA, it will be available in AMD Catalyst 12.3 Preview and AMD Catalyst 12.4.

Morphological Anti-Aliasing

At time of press it hasn't yet been confirmed if these updates will be rolled out to all DX11 cards or 7000 series exclusively, but early feedback is the intent is to offer it for all capable hardware. While these improvements are very welcome and perhaps a little overdue, it's a shame that there is no support yet for Windows 8 (or Linux) for the Radeon HD 7000 series, but only a preview non-WHQL driver which supports the last two generations of cards and no more. A stark contrast to the competition, which supports GeForce 6000 through latest 500 series in their recent WHQL driver (with multi-threaded render target updates, deferred contexts and command list support, to boot).

The entire AMD Radeon HD 7000 series features the new Video Codec Engines for accelerated H.264 encode. This hardware has yet to be utilized, as the software ecosystem isn't there yet. AMD indicates that software and drivers to leverage this functionality will be available very soon, possibly in the month of March.

Also in keeping with the AMD Radeon HD 7000 series, the 7800/Pitcairn cards have the UVD 3 features and the new output features first seen with the 7900/Tahiti range. This includes support for Fast HDMI and 1080p60 Stereo3D, and 4K displays using DisplayPort 1.2.