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ATI Technologies today unveiled details of its improved mobile DirectX 9.0 compatible graphics chip. The fresh MOBILITY RADEON 9700 is set to compete with NVIDIA’s GeForce FX Go 5700 solution in high-performance laptops.

The market of powerful graphics for mobile applications has a good growth potential, as there is a general trend to replace desktop personal computers with something as compact as notebooks. Because users want to play on their desktop replacement machines, the market of DTR graphics chips is no longer limited to hardcore-gamers who want to be able to play their favorite  titles whenever they have some spare time.

Unlike the name suggests, the MOBILITY RADEON 9700 does not have a lot to do with the desktop RADEON 9700 VPU – the first DirectX 9.0 graphics processor of the industry. Instead, the MOBILITY RADEON 9700 is based on the RADEON 9600 XT technology with certain optimizations of power consumption typical for the current generation of ATI’s offerings for the mobile market.

The main advantage ATI’s MOBILITY RADEON 9700 has over its predecessor is 0.13 micron low-k manufacturing process it employs. ATI and TSMC claim that low-k allows chips to consume less energy while working on high clock-speeds, presupposing that 450MHz MOBILITY RADEON 9700 will not consume significantly more electricity over its 350MHz predecessor. Furthermore, generally lower power consumption leads to longer laptop battery life in 2D modes.

Still, being based on the mobile RV350/RV360 micro architecture, the MOBILITY RADEON 9700 inherits all capabilities and features found in its predecessor, such as:

  • Four rendering pipelines with one texture unit per each;
  • 2 vertex shader engines;
  • SMARTSHADER 2.0 technology to support DirectX 9.0 features in hardware;
  • SMOOTHVISION 2.0 for advanced FSAA and anisotropic filtering;
  • Power-saving POWERPLAY 4.0 technology that supports multiple power-saving methods, including flexible POWER-ON-DEMAND engine that constantly monitors system activity, dynamically adjusting clocks and voltage based on user scenario. Famous LOW POWER LCD technology that enables lower LCD refresh rate for longer battery life is also present. Among the innovations of the POWERPLAY 4.0 I should note ATI OVERDRIVE - on-chip thermal sensor that enables performance to scale up dependent on notebook thermal environment.
  • VPU Recover feature that does not let your notebook PC freeze when playing computer games;
  • Hyper Z-III+ technology is an advantage ATI claims the MOBILITY RADEON 9700 chip has over the MOBILITY RADEON that included Hyper-M mechanism to optimize usage of memory bandwidth, encompassing lossless colour compression and lossless z-compression (8:1 with no FSAA, up to 24:1 with FSAA). It is not fully clear, what actually differs one technology from another, though;
  • Integrated dual-channel LVDS, with support for QXGA resolutions (2048x1536);
  • 165 MHz integrated TMDS transmitter;
  • Integrated TV-Out Encoder;
  • Integrated Dual 400MHz RAMDAC;
  • Integrated HDTV encoder, supporting component output (YPbPr) for both North American and Japanese D-link connectors;
  • Hardware accelerated DVD playback;
  • AGP 8x;

The MOBILITY RADEON 9700 will be traditionally available as a standalone graphics processors with 128-bit memory bus for mobile AGP graphics cards as well as in Multi-Chip-Modules with 64 or 128MB memory featuring 64-bit or 128-bit bus. DDR memory speed of the MOBILITY RADEON 9700 will be in 500-550MHz range, according to sources familiar with the matter.

ATI’s new mobile graphics processor is direct competitor for NVIDIA’s GeForce FX Go 5700 launched at Comdex 2003 and expected to be available this February. This will start a new round of speed racebetween ATI and NVIDIA, this time in mobile segment. The MOBILITY RADEON 9600 Vs. GeForce FX Go 5600 round was won by ATI, however, NVIDIA's GeForce FX 5700 architecture is a very tough competitor for the RADEON 9600 XT in desktops, especially now, when the 5700 got new drivers.

ATI said that MOBILITY RADEON 9700 will power notebooks from such companies as Acer, Alienware, Fujitsu-Siemens, Gericom, LG, Medion, Packard Bell, Rockdirect, Samsung, Targa and VoodooPC. In addition, leading original design manufacturers such as ASUS, Clevo, Compal, ECS, FIC, Quanta, Uniwill and Wistron will offer notebooks including the MOBILITY RADEON 9700.

Notebooks featuring MOBILITY RADEON 9700 are now shipping and currently available in Europe at Media Markt. There is no information on availability of the part in the USA and Asia.


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