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ATI's RD600 overclocking details

ATI's chipset pin-compatibility chart
Ready to do battle with the nForce 590 SLI Intel Edition and Intel 975X Express

DailyTech previously reported that Intel has no immediate plans to replace the Intel 975X chipset which was launched late last year. This leaves plenty of room for ATI and NVIDIA to move in and steal some of Intel’s high-end chipset market share. NVIDIA already has the nForce 590 SLI Intel Edition planned for Conroe and other LGA775 processors and ATI should be following suit with the RD600.

Our previous DFI roadmap article showed an ATI RD600 board in the works and now we have confirmed details on the new chipset. RD600 based boards will carry the Radeon Xpress 3200 CrossFire moniker and the Intel equivalent of the previously released RD580. It seems ATI is launching a full fledged attack on the nForce 590 SLI Intel Edition by offering similar features and then some. While NVIDIA has LinkBoost which overclocks the HyperTransport links between the MCP and SPP, ATI will have a similar feature that will overclock the PCI Express bus 25% which they claim improves dongle-less CrossFire performance.

According to documentation from ATI, RD600 looks like a monster.  The board material claims the chipset can already support 1333MHz FSB with an expectation that it should reach 1500MHz FSB.  Like NVIDIA's Tritium design, the RD600 platform is designed to appeal to the overclocker, although certain parameters will allow for the motherboard to automatically overclock.

The most notable feature of the RD600 is the memory controller. ATI has developed an elaborate memory controller that operates asynchronously from the front-side bus. No more memory dividers means the front-side bus can be overclocked drastically without being limited to memory. There will also be support for DDR2-1066 too. ATI claims the RD600 has been overclocked to 375 MHz (1500 MHz Quad pumped) using the current reference board.

Taking on the NVIDIA nTune software will be the ATI System Management (ASM) software application. ASM is a Windows XP utility that supports FSB, Memory Clock, PCI-E clock, memory timings and voltage adjustments.

While ATI has been quite hush on the physics processing side of things the RD600 will support motherboards with three PCI-Express x16 slots for three graphics cards. The kicker of this is two graphics cards will be used for CrossFire while a third X1000 series graphics can be used to process physics. There are no details on which graphics cards will be supported for Physics processing or if all three cards have to be matched or not but with NVIDIA claiming Physics support for most of the GeForce 7 family we expect ATI to follow suit.

The RD600 will be made on a 90nm process which allows it to run cool and consume less power.  ATI has several other chipsets on the way as well. ATI RD600 motherboards are expected to retail for approximately $150 according to internal documents.

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Three graphics cards is just crazy
By Assimilator87 on 6/2/2006 2:34:11 PM , Rating: 2
So this chipset basically allows for three PCI-E X16 slots, two for Crossfire and one for a dedicated physics processing graphics card. I find that to be a really stupid proposition when one can use that third slot for a much cheaper, massively faster, real physics processing card. You may say that Quad-SLI is even crazier, but the current implementation of that is only marginally more expensive than any dual graphics solution, as long as we don't consider the price hiking by retailers, and all of that power is for graphics. Why waste a whole graphics card for physics?

On another note, ATi is running the memory asyncronously with the FSB. I don't see why that wasn't implemented earlier. For some reason, everyone believes that they need to run DDR2 memory at the same clock as the FSB, but bandwidth wise that's actually a 1:2(FSB:RAM) ratio. An 800Mhz FSB Pentium only needs dual channel DDR2-400 and if the memory clock is run in a 1:1 ratio then only single channel is needed. This brings me to a question that has been bothering me. Do the AM2 CPUs actually utilize the bandwidth of DDR2-800 at stock settings or do they still have the same 6.4GB/s of memory bandwidth needed?

By Zoomer on 6/3/2006 6:03:37 AM , Rating: 2
They need the latency improvement, not the bandwidth improvement.

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