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In a bid to fight back the market of high-performance graphics cards from NVIDIA Corp. as well as to solidify positions in the mainstream, ATI Technologies reportedly plans to introduce two more graphics chips that feature the next-generation architecture from the company. One of the newcomers even said to be produced at United Microelectronics Corp.’s foundry.

ATI has reportedly notified its clients that it would begin supplies of its much-anticipated visual processing units (VPUs) code-named R520, RV530, RV515 and RV505 by the end of the third quarter, DigiTimes web-site reports. Additionally, ATI is claimed to have started designing code-named R516 VPU for “entry-level graphics card market”, the report that cites sources among graphics cards makers claims.

Neither RV505, nor R516 have ever been mentioned before. It is highly likely that the RV505 is a substitute for entry-level RADEON X300-class products, but it is unclear where the code-named R516 is targeted. Furthermore, ATI typically calls its products aimed at mainstream, entry-level or value markets with RV-series code-names, whereas products for performance-mainstream and higher market segments are named with R-series code-names.

If the report is correct, UMC will be the first R5-series graphics chip from ATI to be produced at UMC, not TSMC, ATI’s primary foundry partner, which makes ATI’s R5 family of VPUs using 90nm process technology with low-k dielectrics.

UMC has already initiated commercial product using 90nm process technology. UMC’s 90nm production is taking place at both of its 300mm fabs and one 200mm fab, with over 20 different products now being manufactured. The majority of the products being manufactured take advantage of UMC’s low-k dielectrics, according to the company. In addition to UMC’s standard 90nm device offering, customers are also utilizing either the company’s 90nm low-power or high-speed device options, depending upon their product application.

Previously ATI used UMC’s manufacturing capacities for making entry-level and low-power products.

ATI code-named R5-series of VPUs is projected to support Shader Model 3.0 and other innovations, which requires totally new graphics architecture from ATI. Among other improvements the flagship R520 product is expected to have over predecessors is a new memory controller. Neither brand-name of the new breed of VPUs, nor their launch schedule have been confirmed.

Representatives for ATI Technologies usually do not comment on unannounced products.

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