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Designers of graphics processors may shepherd the industry to install more memory on high-end graphics cards this Fall with the announcement of the forthcoming chips that will succeed the currently shipping ATI RADEON X800- and NVIDIA GeForce 6800-series products.

A report over The Inquirer suggests that ATI and NVIDIA will ask add-in card partners to install 512MB of GDDR3 memory on high-end graphics cards that are coming out in Fall. The web-site believes that the first graphics cards with 512MB of memory will be based on the upcoming graphics processing units code-named R480 and NV48.

Leading developers of graphics processors, such as NVIDIA Corp. and ATI Technologies, usually tend to double the amount of on-board memory on high-end graphics products every 12 to 18 months. More on-board memory allows graphics cards to store more textures near the graphics chip, which in some cases improves performance, as the processor does not have to pump the data it needs from system memory via AGP or PCI Express bus. However, the first generation of graphics cards that feature doubled amount of memory compared to predecessors usually do not make much use of this advantage because contemporary games are developed with lower amount of graphics memory in mind, while the future titles require visual processing units with higher computing power.

The first graphics cards with 256MB of memory for consumers were released in mid-2003 along with the GeForce FX 5900 Ultra and RADEON 9800 PRO 256MB products. Currently even entry-level offerings feature 256MB of relatively slow memory. Besides technology-related reasons to put more memory onboard, there is a marketing reason for that – a lot of end-users tend to get graphics card with more graphics random access memory hoping to get higher speed.

It is not clear whether it is enough cost-effective for graphics chips designers to vow for 512MB graphics cards, as GDDR3 memory currently used on high-end graphics products is pretty expensive.

The world’s first single-chip graphics card with 512MB of memory was released in late 2003 by 3Dlabs aiming at DDC customers.

Representatives for ATI and NVIDIA did not comment on the news-story.

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