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ATI Technologies will offer a number of versions of its forthcoming visual processing unit’s code-named R520, which seems to be in mass production now, for different market segments, the company’s CEO said in an interview with a web-site. He also confirmed that the firm was going to preview its “90nm development” at the Computex show in Taipei, Taiwan these days. A broad range of R520 derivatives is expected to emerge in the “short term”, he indicated.

“In the short-term, which I would call the next three to twelve months, the PC roadmap is still going to be a big driver for revenue growth for the company, with products including our [R]500 series and 90nm series driving growth in the desktop, notebook and workstation markets,” said David Orton, ATI’s CEO and President in an interview with DigiTimes web-site. This is the first public confirmation of the company’s natural plans to use its R520 architecture across the board of markets.

A web-site recently published a slide marked as ATI’s 2005 Desktop Roadmap and containing information about possible launch timeframes for ATI’s desktop visual processing units (VPUs) internally called as R520, RV530 and RV515. The R520 will, according to the slide, be available sometimes in the second quarter, which is incorrect, as ATI has changed its plans regarding the R520 launch. The RV530 will be released sometimes in the Q3 2005, whereas the launch of the RV515 is scheduled towards the Q4 2005. All of those products will exist in AGP 8x and PCI Express x16 interfaces, either using ATI's Rialto bridge or existing in several types of ASICs. Virtually all of the mentioned chips may operate in different types of applications, including desktop, workstation and mobile.

“This year, we will be bringing our new CrossFire technology to the market, with a scalable PCI Express link to support multiple graphics solutions. We are also going to be previewing, but not actually announcing, a lot of our ongoing 90nm development [at Computex Taipei 2005],” Mr. Orton said. Earlier ATI demonstrated its R520 chip at the E3 show in the USA.

Earlier ATI said that the company’s demonstration of the “next generation RADEON” at Computex features High Definition video H.264 playback with CyberLink video player application. In addition to hardware acceleration of H.264, the RADEON “R520” processor is set to perform next generation video processing and show off advanced display capabilities, according to the company.

ATI code-named R520 VPU is also projected to support Shader Model 3.0 and other innovations. Still, specifications of ATI’s code-named R520 VPU are unclear at this time. Some sources suggest that the chip may have up to 32 pixel pipelines and up to 350 million transistors, which makes the processor extremely complex. However, given that a new 90nm fabrication process is to be used for the manufacturing of R520, it is unlikely that the visual processing unit will be tremendously large in terms of transistor count and complex in terms of the number of pipelines. Fabless semiconductor designers tend to balance complexity of their chips for new fabrication processes. For instance, since 2002, ATI has not launched manufacturing of high-end graphics chips using a new process technology unless the technology was tested on mainstream chips. Still, even on relatively new manufacturing processes, ATI has set pretty high clock-speeds for its VPUs.

Actual brand-name for products featuring the code-named R520 and derivative R5 chips is unclear, but it is possible that the graphics cards will be sold under RADEON X900 trademark.

ATI did not comment on the specs or brand-names for upcoming products.


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