X-bit labs: The Chrome20-series is said to be made using 90nm process technology. None of graphics chips designers has unveiled 90nm products even formally yet. Is it hard to design a 90nm GPU?
Nadeem Mohammad: That makes our Chrome20 demonstration to you an industry first – that’s great. It is not easy to design and manufacture 90nm of this complexity, and I can totally understand some of the problems facing our competitors. It comes down to experience and partner support. A lot of our process and design engineers have been in the graphics industry for over a decade, S3 used to have a great reputation for driving the leading edge processes and it’s still in our genes today. We also have access to a wealth of resources from our affiliate VIA Technologies. As you can see from our demonstration our 90nm Chrome20 series products are alive and kicking, we do not anticipate any problems due to the process, clocks are hitting targets, power consumption is well within expectations, yields are acceptable – we’re in good shape.
X-bit labs: What do you consider acceptable yields?
Nadeem Mohammad: All wafer companies have formulae based their measured defect densities and their experience on how long it takes to further improve them. These information coupled with chip size and process layers can be used to project theoretical yields. When yields match or exceed these numbers – then we’re happy – and we consider it acceptable! I hope that helps to explain this?
X-bit labs: What will be the expected clock rates?
Nadeem Mohammad: We are currently not releasing details of the final clock rates but to give you an indication, there will be members in this family of products which will have higher clock rate than any GPU announced or available as of to date.
X-bit labs: What do you consider as the most important features, characteristics of a GPU when developing it?
Nadeem Mohammad: It’s a careful balance of performance, power, video features, cost and compatibility. If anyone of these parameters are outside the range of acceptability of the target market the product would be not considered.
X-bit labs: How many transistors does the Chrome20 have?
Nadeem Mohammad: We currently are not disclosing details, the actual number depends how you count, but for now approximately 60 to 80 million transistors in advanced 90nm, is a reasonable range.
X-bit labs: What do you mean by how to count? Isn’t there only one way count the transistors?
Nadeem Mohammad: Internally graphics companies count their designs in terms of logic gates, which in turn can be translated into transistors by a simple multiplier. In addition modern designs use large amounts of internal memory, for caches and registers etc., their routing density can be very high compared to standard logic. To confuse things further there are analog portions of the design which may have large transistors – many order of magnitude larger than those in logic gates – companies could choose to count them literally or as “logic-transistor” equivalent. It is not clear to me how some of the big numbers some other folks talk about are generated – actual transistors or equivalent using logic density or cache density.