AMD’s mainstream graphics processors RV360 and RV610 were announced along with the top-performance R600 as we reported in our review of the Radeon HD 2000 series, but it was only on the 11th of June that AMD began to ship them in large amounts. This made AMD even more handicapped in its competition with Nvidia who had begun mass shipments of its new mainstream processors G84 and G86 in mid-April. Having such a large advantage in time, Nvidia’s partners had managed to fill the market up with graphics cards with those GPUs.
AMD’s graphics department, the former ATI Technologies, found itself lagging behind again although its mainstream GPUs could be considered more advanced than Nvidia’s G84 and G86from a technical standpoint. As opposed to the senior R600, the new GPUs are both manufactured on a thinner, 65nm, tech process, and the RV630 supports modern graphics memory of both types, GDDR3 and GDDR4 , just like the senior GPU does. Interestingly, AMD/ATI didn’t position the Radeon HD 2600 XT GDDR4 , the senior model of the new series, as an opponent to the GeForce 8600 GTS but targeted it at a cheaper niche the Nvidia GeForce 8600 GT, with much weaker specs, resides in. As a result, the pricing of the new mainstream cards from AMD now looks like follows:
Interestingly, AMD wants to counter the GeForce 8600 GTS with the Radeon HD 2600 XT Gemini which is a dual-chip solution with two RV630 GPUs working in CrossFire mode. We have seen such solutions before, from ASUS and Gigabyte and later from Nvidia, yet all of these attempts were not much of a success. Nvidia’s GeForce 7950 GX2 was in fact forgotten by the developer himself after the release of the GeForce 8800 series. AMD has no choice, however. The manufacturing cost of R600-based products can hardly be reduced to fit into the $189-249 category in near future whereas the RV630 has too few texture processors and rasterization subunits to challenge the G84 in popular applications.
As for ordinary, single-chip, cards, the Radeon HD 2600 XT GDDR4 looks a worthy opponent to the GeForce 8600 GT. Let’s compare their technical specs first.