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ATI reference design for Radeon X1950
Ready or not, here comes GDDR4

This week ATI sent an advisory out to its OEM partners announcing the details of the new Radeon X1950 and X1900 graphic cards.  Both of these new cards are based on the same R580 core, but with some fundamental differences.

R580, the 48 pixel-shader processor version of the R520 (Radeon X1800), was announced this past January. R580 features a robust memory controller capable of utilizing several different types of memory, including GDDR4 which was not even available when the Radeon X1900 was first announced.  Since then Hynix and Samsung have both jumped on the GDDR4 train with revenue shipments beginning several weeks ago.  The new GDDR4 variants of R580-based Radeons are now called Radeon X1950.  Radeon X1950 will retain all of the features of the Radeon X1900, and really only have the added benefit of a new cooler, GDDR4 memory and different frequency clocks.

Radeon X1950 at launch will come in two flavors: a high clock "XTX" version, and a CrossFire version.  Both cards feature 512MB GDDR4, and the only major difference between the two is that the CrossFire X1950 houses the composite engine and input interfaces for CrossFire. Just yesterday, ATI issued an advisory to its partners claiming "Clock frequencies for RADEON X1950 family products are pending and will be provided at a later date."  However, in March of this year ATI released a new policy for AIB partners to overclock X1000 series cores with some discretion. While we can already confirm some partners are planning 650MHz core versions, there is still a distinct possibility that higher clocked cards are also in the works. Memory clock frequencies have not been announced either, though Samsung announced its GDDR4 is already capable of 3.2GHz in 8x512Mbit configurations.

The new Radeon X1900 is a low-cost version of the existing Radeon X1900 that only uses 256MB of GDDR3, enabling the card access to the $300 price point.  The Radeon X1900XT 256MB will use the same clock frequencies as other Radeon X1900XT cards: 625MHz core and 1.45GHz memory.

ATI's advisory documentation claims the Radeon X1950XTX will begin sample availability on August 7, with the CrossFire sampling beginning exactly one week later. Sampling of the Radeon X1900XT 256MB will begin immediately.

Radeon X1900 and X1950 will be replaced by another ASIC core, dubbed R600.  R600 is expected to be 80nm with new design features above and beyond the R520 and R580 series.

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Less breakneck pace
By segagenesis on 7/21/2006 6:38:42 PM , Rating: 3
I might be alone in saying this but I think its good that graphics manufacturers are making more of existing chip designs this year than pushing the next generation so quickly.

RE: Less breakneck pace
By Sharky974 on 7/21/2006 7:30:56 PM , Rating: 2
It's about the same as always.

They make a new chip (7800 GTX, X1800)

They refine and overclock that same basic design six months later (7900 GTX, X1900)

They make a brand new chip six months after that (G80, R600).

They refine and overclock the new chip six months later (this is the phase once termed as the "spring refresh").

So, either brand new chip or refresh every six months. Brand new chips about every twelve months. Timing may differ somewhat.

It hasn't changed much. Considering G80 is supposed to fairly close. I guess 7800 actually came out in June 05, and G80 will be in September I think though it's too early to say, so that's more than 12 months, but on the other hand Ati's last refresh (X1900) was only 3-4 months after the X1800, so as I say, the timing can vary slightly. R600 wont be any earlier than October or Novemeber, so again you're looking at about a year since X1800.

In other words no, it's not slowing down, as far as I can tell.

RE: Less breakneck pace
By ElFenix on 7/21/2006 9:24:36 PM , Rating: 3
you forget that the 7800 was essentially a respin of the 6800. so, now ati is on the refresh of a refresh that nvidia is curently at.

RE: Less breakneck pace
By mongoosesRawesome on 7/21/2006 10:55:15 PM , Rating: 2
7800 respin of 6800? are you crazy?

RE: Less breakneck pace
By Bull Dog on 7/22/2006 3:19:33 AM , Rating: 2
No, he is not crazy. The 7x00 cards were evolutionary rather revolutionary comparing to the 6x00 series cards.

RE: Less breakneck pace
By Sharky974 on 7/22/2006 3:43:41 AM , Rating: 4
I think that's stretching the definition of "evolutionary", though I sort of see where you're coming from.

They added 8 more pipes and even on a more basic level, made major ALU changes to improve the 7800GTX, (added MADD capability to one of the ALU's that does not have it in a 6800 pipe) overall it was a pretty massive redesign, not exactly a "respin".

7900 GTX on the other hand, was nothing more than a basic upclock and refinement of 7800 on a new manufactoring process.

RE: Less breakneck pace
By Goty on 7/23/2006 10:27:31 PM , Rating: 2
The X1800 and X1900 were in development at the same time. The reason R580 came out so soon after R520 was because R520 has some big IP no-nos (to use a technical term).

RE: Less breakneck pace
By AndreasM on 7/21/2006 8:39:49 PM , Rating: 2
I might be alone in saying this but I think its good that graphics manufacturers are making more of existing chip designs this year than pushing the next generation so quickly.

I disagree. The longer it takes for them to "push the next generation", the longer it takes for the current generation to drop in price.

RE: Less breakneck pace
By elscorpio666 on 8/1/2006 1:32:07 AM , Rating: 2
Graphic card manufacturers should consider making more cards silent rather.

Passive cooling is the code word for this

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