Leading Graphics Chips Designers Have No Plans for High-End Update in 2004

ATI Technologies, NVIDIA Corp. Reluctant on New High-End Chips

by Anton Shilov
09/30/2004 | 06:16 AM

Two leading graphics processors designers – ATI Technologies and NVIDIA Corp. – do not have plans to update their high-end families of products this year, a source familiar with the plans of both told X-bit labs. The news may seem strange to graphics enthusiasts, as both NVIDIA and ATI typically tend to offer new high-end products twice a year.


The ongoing fierce competition between two world’s leading graphics processors designers have resulted into graphics processors that contain from 160 million to 222 million transistors, tens of millions more than today’s fastest desktop microprocessors contain. As a consequence of skyrocketing complexity along with increase in terms of clock-speeds, neither NVIDIA nor ATI can supply sufficient amount of their high-end graphics solutions, such as the GeForce 6800 Ultra and the RADEON X800 XT Platinum Edition.

NVIDIA Corp., who proposed to launch a new GPU every six months in 1999, has since then maintained such aggressive schedule, releasing a new high-performance graphics processor two times a year. ATI Technologies have also followed NVIDIA in terms of launch schedule for some time now. However, both are unlikely to start mass production of revamped versions of current architectures in 2004, but are expected to move availability of code-named NVIDIA NV48 and ATI R480 graphics processing units to Q1 2005, according to a high-ranking source among makers of graphics cards.

Both NV48 and R480 are unlikely to offer any new functionality, but additional performance compared to the current high-end offerings, such as the GeForce 6800 Ultra and the RADEON X800 XT Platinum Edition. The new chips are also expected to solve the problem with pretty limited availability of the contemporary high-end parts, though, it is unclear whether the developers of graphics chips plan to adopt any new fabrication processes.

Earlier this year a report about ATI’s code-named R430 chip to be produced using 0.11 micron process technology at TSMC emerged. Technical specs and availability dates of the chip are unknown.

New graphics architectures with some new capabilities from ATI and NVIDIA are code-named NV50 and R500 and are expected to emerge later in 2005.

NVIDIA Corp. and ATI Technologies did not comment on the news-story.