We managed to figure out some more information about ATI Technologies’ code-named R360 graphics processor scheduled for release this year. Obviously, this graphics chip is based on the same R300 architecture as the RADEON 9700 and its derivatives, the RADEON 9600 (RV360) and RADEON 9800 (R350), but with a bit higher clock-speed. Despite of earlier expectations, the actual graphics cards based on the R360 VPU will only be available by the end of the third quarter or even in the fourth quarter.
The Inquirer and NVMax web-sites recently said that the already well-known processor will be branded as the RADEON 9900 PRO. I believe there may be a slower version called the RADEON 9900 as well. The RADEON 9900 PRO VPU will be clocked at 420MHz, another boost over the original RADEON 9700 PRO graphics processor clocked at 325MHz. It is now said that the upcoming babe will feature 256MB of DDR-II memory clocked at 800MHz or something close. I have no idea if ATI actually utilises its own GDDR2 developed with Elpida, or goes with nearly mainstream DDR-II memory chips. It is also hard to tell whether ATI R360 will support any additional features over the R350-series; ATI may implement further performance optimizations, but definitely there will be no tangible innovations introduced with the code-named R350 VPU.
As we told you some time ago, the R360 graphics processor will be manufactured using TSMC’s 0.15 micron fabrication process with copper interconnections, so, expect the chip to consume a bit more energy and dissipate a bit more heat. As I have heard from unofficial sources, the yield of the current R350 also known as the RADEON 9800 PRO is lower than ATI originally expected. The company is probably supposed to correct this issue in the upcoming graphics chip, though, I do not have any idea about the nature of any possible improvements.
According to the latest roadmaps I have seen, ATI R360-based graphics cards will only be available in late Q3 or even early Q4. As a result, do not expect the company to start selling its R400-series this year massively. ATI may actually paper-launch its highly-anticipated R400 or R420 VPU in November or December, though, I would not expect them to start selling it in commercial quantities.