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Memory controller is biggest component of ATI's R520 ! - 11/5/2005 2:58:08 PM   
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It took us a while to figure out what is so big in the R520 die. A 90 nanometre R520 die is almost as big as a 130 nanometre G70 and we all know that Nvidia's G70 has twenty four pipelines. So what makes ATI's chip so big?

ATI had just enough space to put more pipelines and upgrade its existing R420 architecture but just could not do it as it would end up missing the Shader Model 3.0 feature. It had to completely redesign the core shaders, memory controllers and the like. Nvidia didn’t risk much, as its G70 has just more pipelines and a slight redesign of its already successful NV40 marchitecture. Now it turns out that Nvidia can clock its chips to 550MHz and hit some very nice performance and rename its Ultra cards to GTX.

ATI on the other hand had a different plan. It wanted to redesign the chip and it spent a lot of time to redesign its memory controller. It takes a big chunk of the die, but you can look at it as a long term investment. ATI will re-use this controller at least for the next generation as it can support GDDR4 and can address at least 1024MB of memory so it's here to stay.

This big memory controller paid off in OpenGL games and you can see that X1800XT will beat Geforce 7800 GTX 256MB memory in the games that were traditionally Nvidia only. And we learned that this new memory controller is far from being optimised so there is possible a fair bit more to come on that side.

ATI's next generation R580 chip will re-use this controller and all what R520 marchitecture really needs its more pipelines. Our own Theo Valich suggested 32 pipelines for ATI next generation R480 chip and we know it's already taped out. ATI will add more pipes to R580 and it will get back in the game, aiming for the performance crown.

R520 is starting to look like a necessary step with all its delays and problems but as R580 is already taped out, maybe the next match is closer than we all think. We still don’t expect R580 before sometime in Q1 2006 - just in time to fight Nvidia's G71 its next generation 90 nanometre core.


Source : TheInquirer
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