The hybrid architecture redesign of the Southern Islands generation will be an interesting one. Here's to hoping that the TSMC 40nm process will be fully operational by Q4 2010.
Due to the fact that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company will unlikely be ready with its 28nm fabrication process technology by the end of the year, both ATI, graphics business unit of Advanced Micro Devices, and Nvidia Corp. will have to reconsider their plans of launching new chips. In case of ATI this may lead to introduction of a chip that has architectural elements of both current and next-gen graphics families.
ATI has already confirmed during various events that its next-generation family of graphics processing units (GPUs) is called Northern Islands and various unofficial sources indicated that the new chips will be made on 28nm node. There are also reports that Northern Islands will have richer feature-set compared to Evergreen. However, according to some unofficial reports, ATI’s next-generation family includes chips code-named Cozumel, Ibiza and Kauai chips, which are actually southern islands.
According to a news-story at Semiaccurate web-site, ATI’s next-generation line of graphics chips is indeed called Southern Islands. Moreover, due to problems at TSMC, Southern Islands will feature hybrid design with several logic elements of Northern Islands and stream processors from Evergreen. The actual chips will be made using already proven 40nm process technology, which will allow ATI to refresh its GPU lineup this year and offer something more powerful than today.
ATI’s approach to creation of a new product family seems logical, moreover, back in the past ATI used to implement certain next-generation elements into chips which general feature-set was improved tangibly. There is a question though whether Southern Islands will be much more powerful compared to existing offerings.
ATI did not comment on the news-story.