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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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RE: Is a question allowed?
By Tyler 86 on 7/21/2006 8:04:12 PM , Rating: 2
You're in luck, I just happen to have a spare minute...

GPU cores are way more complex than CPUs.
They eat more power, produce more heat, do more work, and break easier.
Recent cores have 'many clocks' (as termed by nVidia) to cope with the increasing power draw and and heat.

I don't know if 'multi-parallelization' is a real... term?
Parallelization is a factor they're taking into consideration with their lower clock speeds.

RE: Is a question allowed?
By Tyler 86 on 7/21/2006 8:13:30 PM , Rating: 2
There are also limitations on the silicon, metal substrate, and structures (like 'gates').

RE: Is a question allowed?
By Sharky974 on 7/21/2006 8:19:12 PM , Rating: 2
I dont think any of these answers have cut to the core of the problem. For that we need a Beyond 3D member.

I believe one factor I remember once being mentioned was something like that, CPU's are much more custom and "hand designed" for higher speed. Whereas I guess, GPU's have parts that are more machine designed.

Aka you've got some incredibly complex internal pipeline, you can spend tons of man hours going in and hand optimizing it, get higher clockspeeds, or you can automate the process somewhat, have a program lay it out and save tons of time but be less efficient, which is what the GPU guys do.

Process cant have much to do with it. CPU's at 90nm where still 3.2 GHZ and up.

RE: Is a question allowed?
By Sharky974 on 7/21/2006 8:28:57 PM , Rating: 2
If nobody here posts the correct answer

Go here:

Register, post your question.

You will get the correct answer. There are guys there who know AMAZING stuff. There are guys there that even specialize in just the manufactoring side, and can on and on about gates, masks, silicon layers, etc.

I'm sure it's been answered before over there, but I cant figure out an effective way to search the question.

RE: Is a question allowed?
By smitty3268 on 7/21/2006 11:06:11 PM , Rating: 2
1. The operations that GPU's perform are much more complex than the simple arithmetic that a CPU mostly does. It is also much more parallelized. This means the designs are much more complex, and that makes things much more difficult to ramp up clock speed. It isn't a linear relationship, a little bit more complicated makes things much more difficult.

2. Hand optimization is used some in CPU designs. This is possible because their designs are simpler, and because designs can last for years. GPUs are released on a much faster schedule which doesn't provide the time for as many custom optimizations.

3. GPUs are usually a bit behind on the manufacturing process as well. I'm not sure if this is just an issue of money or if this is to keep yields up since their designs are more complex than CPU designs.

RE: Is a question allowed?
By Tyler 86 on 7/24/2006 12:31:20 AM , Rating: 2
1; We covered that here.

2; Balogna. Hand optimizations are used where hand optimizations are needed. GPU or CPU, Microchip or PCB, Hardware or Software.

3; The manufacturing process is behind due only to a tech gap between Intel, AMD, and TSMC (whom nVidia & ATi use to produce their chips).

Sometimes smaller processes will have lower yields than their larger processes, or they will create hot spots, or have other electrical issues. Sometimes the chip's architecture has to be redesigned to cope.

The larger processes are more refined, and typicly have stable (still not exactly high) yields, which is better for the bottom line.

The TSMC tiers it's manufacturing processes' pricing to it's quality and/or size. Sometimes it's cheaper for ATi or nVidia to stay with a larger manufacturing process.

Intel is simply it's own manufacturer, unlike the 2 major graphics players.
AMD is also it's own manufacturer, yet they're lagging behind in manufacturing process area compared to Intel.

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates
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