As you know, ATI Technologies will launch another mainstream product code-named RV360 together with its R360 VPU later this year. Apparently, the Markham, Ontario-based company prepares yet-another mainstream graphics processor based on the RV350 architecture. Its code-name is RV380 and it will come together with the R420, as unofficial sources said.
The new ATI RV380 part will be manufactured using 0.13 micron fabrication technology process at TSMC. Just like the R420, the RV380 will have native PCI Express support, thus, expect the actual graphics cards powered by the VPU to be equipped with special PCI Express-to-AGP bridge. The RV380 will offer ground-breaking performance for mainstream market while sustaining competitive pricing due to robust architecture.
The R300 architecture has plenty of headroom to develop further, just like its mainstream derivative RV350. In case the RV380 offer even more performance optimizations, higher clock-speeds and competitive pricing, it will be a massively successful product.
I expect RV380 to offer performance close to the RADEON 9700, since the current RADEON 9600 PRO offers more speed compared to the RADEON 9500, but still cannot beat the RADEON 9500 PRO. The next member of ATI RV350 lineup will be the RV360 coming out later this year; it is very likely that its speed will exceed than that of the RADEON 9500 PRO, as a result, the RV380 part will offer us the same or nearly the same speed as offered by the RADEON 9700, but at lower price-point.
The micro architecture of the RV380 as well as its clock-speed are not yet uncovered, though, I believe it will be based on the RADEON 9800 (R350) rather than on the RADEON 9700 (R300) design. This will result in more advanced FSAA support, F-buffer technology (pixel shader programs with unlimited number of instructions), Multiple Render Target, shadow volume rendering acceleration support and so on. As always, ATI Technologies will offer a number of solutions based on the same VPU, but offering different levels of performance depending on the price.
ATI Technologies’ code-named RV380 will be announced in late 2003 or early 2004 with availability in the first quarter of 2004. The information is fully unofficial and ATI may adjust its plans to make the RV380 VPU available a bit earlier or a bit later in order to successfully compete against NVIDIA’s NV36X and NV41 (see this news-story about NVIDIA’s GPUs).