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ATI Technologies formally unveiled its fresh graphics processors with native support of next-generation PCI Express interconnection for personal computers. The new chips will serve in the innovative personal computers featuring the newest technologies that are expected to be available later this month.

First Family of Native PCI Express x16 VPUs

The latest family of graphics chips for PCI Express x16 bus includes RADEON X800-, RADEON X600- and RADEON X300-series of visual processing units serving high-end, performance-mainstream, mainstream and entry-level markets, forming a so-called top-to-bottom family of products. All the new VPUs sport Microsoft DirectX 9.0 capabilities and are compatible with the feature-set required by the leading-edge and future gaming titles.

ATI Technologies is the first company to release a family of graphics chips natively compatible with the forthcoming PCI Express x16 lane that will eventually replace AGP and PCI busses. PCI Express x16 will allow graphics cards to more effectively interact with the rest of the system because of simultaneous read-write operations as well as about 4GB/s of peak bandwidth.

No New Graphics Features

While the lineup of PCI Express x16-supporting chips is broad, ATI decided not to bring any new tech into the graphics processors, simply slightly changing the inner design of its proven RADEON X800 and RADEON 9600 XT VPUs to allow them working on PCI Express platforms. The initiative allows ATI to ensure the absence of any graphics-related issues with transition to PCI Express bus and maintain sufficient yields of its products.

RADEON X800-series of graphics processors will have three flavours: with 16, 12 and 8 pixel pipelines. All the X800 chips will have 6 vertex processors, but will operate at different clock-speed. The RADEON X600 and X300 chips will have 4 rendering pipelines, but will function at different core speeds.

More advanced graphics processors in terms of graphics features are looming on the horizon, but are slated to emerge sometime in Fall 2004.

0.11 Micron Process Technology Ramping

Even though ATI Technologies brought no innovations beside native PCI Express into the new line of its graphics chips, the company said it used 0.11 micron fabrication process for its entry-level RADEON X300 chip. The thinner fabrication process will allow ATI to deliver its product at lower cost and also review the new process in real conditions.

TSMC’s 0.11 micron process technology is fundamentally a photolithographic shrink of its 0.13 micron process. The process will be available in both high-performance and general-purpose versions using FSG-based dielectrics. Though actual results are design-dependent, TSMC’s 0.11 micron high-performance process also includes transistor enhancements that improve speed and reduce power consumption relative to its 0.13 micron FSG-based technology.

Expect the Newbies Shortly

ATI’s partners potentially interested in producing the new PEG x16-supproting VPUs include ABIT, ASUS, Celestica, Club 3D, Connect 3D, Diamond, Elsa, FIC, Gigabyte, Hightech Information Systems, Info-Tek, MSI, Sapphire, Tul, VisionTek, Xpertvision and Yuan.

System integrators and OEMs will begin to announce new PCI Express systems, including ATI VPUs, later this month.


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