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Meanwhile Intel Corp. continues its triumphal invasion into the market of affordable graphics solutions that can be substituted with a core-logic chipset featuring a graphics core, discrete graphics processor designers still do not lose hopes to fight the entry-level market share back.

ATI Intros HyperMemory, Aims Integrated Graphics Market

Following rival NVIDIA Corp. ATI Technologies on Tuesday introduced ultra affordable graphics cards that use system memory for rendering, saving the cost of separate memory chips that are typically installed on graphics cards. The firm says the technology called HyperMemory along with the bandwidth PCI Express interconnection brings can enable discrete visual processing units (VPUs) with decent performance and feature-set for just about $50, an unprecedented low price-point in the recent years.

“Games, photo editing software and other media all run with superior performance and provide a richer user experience with RADEON X300 SE HyperMemory cards,” said Rich Heye, Vice President and GM, Desktop Discrete Products, ATI Technologies Inc., trying to emphasize the advantage the company’s new product has over chipsets with integrated graphics.

Usually the most inexpensive personal computers use integrated graphics. The majority of their owners find the graphics performance satisfying unless they start playing demanding 3D games. Still, Intel currently occupies more than 40% of overall graphics solutions market with its desktop and mobile chipsets with graphics cores.

The HyperMemory Eliminates Need for Onboard Memory

ATI’s partners will produce two versions of the company’s most affordable solutions: RADEON X300 SE 128MB HyperMemory with 32MB of memory onboard as well as RADEON X300 SE 256MB HyperMemory with 128MB local buffer. Both versions are clocked at 325MHz for the chip and 600MHz for the onboard memory and both feature 64-bit memory access. The one called RADEON X300 SE 128MB HyperMemory will cost as low as $49 in retail from a number of graphics cards producers affiliated with Markham, Ontario-based ATI Technologies.

ATI RADEON X300 SE is ATI’s entry-level DirectX 9.0 graphics processor with 4 pixel and 2 vertex pipelines designed for PCI Express x16 bus. The chip is produced using 0.11 micron process technology at TSMC.

ATI said memory controller in the RADEON X-series graphics cards was designed from the ground-up to address both local and system memory for rendering and intelligently manage read/write operations in system memory, providing enough efficiency for real-time graphics processing and not affecting other applications that access system RAM.

HyperMemory allocates part of system memory for VPU needs depending on the amount of RAM in the PC and the version of the product – up to 128MB or up to 256MB.. It may allocate 128MB or 256MB. When there is no need for allocated memory, the driver may allow it to be used as system memory, but in case there is not enough memory on the system, the driver will use virtual memory on HDD, which is likely to ruin performance of graphics processing.

More Performance at Low Cost

ATI said its RADEON X300 SE HyperMemory is not only more powerful compared to Intel’s latest GMA900 graphics core, but also offers more performance in 3D, video and business graphics applications than competitor’s GeForce 6200 TurboCache product. ATI, however, did not disclose any detailed information about the performance measurement except of saying that tests were run on a machine equipped with Intel Pentium 4 3.0GHz chip with 512MB of memory and Windows XP.

  
Slides from a presentation by ATI Technologies

HyperMemory cards are shipping now and will soon be available from ATI and its board partners including ABIT, ASUS, Club3D, Connect3D, Diamond, Gigabyte, GeCube (Info-Tek Corp.), Hightech Information Systems, MSI, Palit, Sapphire, Tul and VisionTek.

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