ATI, graphics product group of Advanced Micro Devices, and Nvidia Corp. are rumoured to release their next-generation graphics processing units (GPUs) sometime in the middle of next year, if the information released by sources familiar with market situations and plans of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. is correct.
The leading designers of graphics processors will not utilize TSMC’s 45nm process technology, but will start using 40nm fabrication process instead in a bid to reduce manufacturing costs amid cut-throat price war between the two as well as the battle for the highest-performance discrete graphics processor on the market. Thinner process technologies allow to pack more transistors inside the chip, potentially providing better functionality and/or performance, while keeping the costs and power consumption under control.
A news-story by China Economic News Service claims that both ATI and Nvidia will complete tape-out of their 40nm designs, which are code-named ATI RV870 and Nvidia GT216, by the end of this year. Both companies are projected to release actual products based on the new chips starting from the second half of June, 2009, assuming that everything goes as planned.
There is no reliable information about the GT216 and RV870 chips. One thing that is known for almost sure is that both processor will be flagship graphics processors in Nvidia’s and ATI’s lineups.
Earlier this month AMD’s ATI unit outlined several expectations for the consumer 3D graphics industry in 2009. Among the highlights are GPU manufacturing transition to 40nm process technology, widespread usage of GDDR5 memory standard and also introduction of DirectX 11-compatible GPUs. In addition, ATI also predicted the rise of GPGPU with help of computing shaders of DirectX 11 and OpenCL. The company expects arrival of consumer applications that take advantage of GPGPU, which will emphasize importance of graphics processors among end-users.
It remains to be seen whether ATI RV870 and Nvidia GT216 are compatible with Microsoft DirectX 11 next-generation application programming interface, but considering the fact that there will be almost a year gap between current-generation and next-generation chips, a huge performance improvement should be expected.