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Details of AMD's next generation Radeon hit the web

Newly created site Level 505 has leaked benchmarks and specifications of AMD’s upcoming ATI R600 graphics processor. The upcoming graphics processor is expected to launch in January 2007 with an expected revision arriving in March 2007. These early specifications and launch dates line up with what DailyTech has already published and are present on ATI internal roadmaps as of workweek 49.

Preliminary specifications from Level 505 of the ATI R600 are as follows:
  • 64 4-Way SIMD Unified Shaders, 128 Shader Operations/Cycle
  • 32 TMUs, 16 ROPs
  • 512 bit Memory Controller, full 32 bit per chip connection
  • GDDR3 at 900 MHz clock speed (January)
  • GDDR4 at 1.1 GHz clock speed (March, revised edition)
  • Total bandwidth 115 GB/s on GDDR3
  • Total bandwidth 140 GB/s on GDDR4
  • Consumer memory support 1024 MB
  • DX10 full compatibility with draft DX10.1 vendor-specific cap removal (unified programming)
  • 32FP [sic] internal processing
  • Hardware support for GPU clustering (any x^2 [sic] number, not limited to Dual or Quad-GPU)
  • Hardware DVI-HDCP support (High Definition Copy Protocol)
  • Hardware Quad-DVI output support (Limited to workstation editions)
  • 230W TDP PCI-SIG compliant
This time around it appears AMD is going for a different approach by equipping the ATI R600 with less unified shaders than NVIDIA’s recently launched GeForce 8800 GTX. However, the unified shaders found on the ATI R600 can complete more shader operations per clock cycle.

ATI's interal guidance states the R600 will have 320 stream processors at launch; 64 4-way unified shaders only accounts for 256 of these stream processors.

Level505 claims AMD is expected to equip the ATI R600 with GDDR3 and GDDR4 memory with the GDDR3 endowed model launching in January. Memory clocks have been set at 900 MHz for GDDR3 models and 1.1 GHz for GDDR4 models.  As recent as two weeks ago, ATI roadmaps had said this GDDR3 launch was canceled.  These same roadmaps claim the production date for R600 is February 2007, which would be after a January 22nd launch.

Memory bandwidth of the ATI R600 is significantly higher than NVIDIA’s GeForce 8800-series. Total memory bandwidth varies from 115GB/s on GDDR3 equipped models to 140GB/s on GDDR4 equipped models.

Other notable hardware features include hardware support for quad DVI outputs, but utilizing all four outputs are limited to FireGL workstation edition cards.

There’s also integrated support for multi-GPU clustering technologies such as CrossFire too. The implementation on the ATI R600 allows any amount ofATI R600 GPUs to operate together in powers of two. Expect multi-GPU configurations with greater than two GPUs to only be available for the workstation markets though.

The published results are very promising with AMD’s ATI R600 beating out NVIDIA’s GeForce 8800 GTX in most benchmarks. The performance delta varies from 8% up to 42% depending on the game benchmark.

When DailyTech contacted the site owner to get verification of the benchmarks, the owner replied that the benchmark screenshots could not be published due to origin-specific markers that would trace the card back to its source -- the author mentioned the card is part of the Microsoft Vista driver certification program.

If Level505's comments seem a little too pro-ATI, don't be too surprised.  When asked if the site was affiliated in any way to ATI or AMD, the owner replied to DailyTech with the statement that "two staff members of ours are directly affiliated with AMD's business [development] division."

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RE: Different Strategy?
By THEiNTERNETS on 12/30/2006 11:46:33 PM , Rating: 1
Ah, okay. It makes more sense when you put it that way.

Then again, they are both unified shaders, so when you say "simple vs complex" are we supposed to assume that the real difference has to do with ATi's being 4-way? (what does that mean anyways?)

Seems like that "4-way" property is the key to 64 shaders in any way being able to match up against 128.

RE: Different Strategy?
By Furen on 12/31/2006 12:19:23 AM , Rating: 2
These 4-way shaders are really SIMD shaders that operate on 4 pieces of data at once. This means that you do not have as much granularity (which will lead to part of these units being idle at times) but they probably take less die space (and power) than they would as individual shader units. ATI is probably using the transistors saved on the shader units elsewhere, like improving its memory controller (which is a 1024bit/512bit monster), etc.

Nvidia has twice the amount of shader units and twice the clock speed (the shader units on the Nvidia side run at 2x+ the core clock) but they only work on a single operation at once.

I wouldn't label either of these approaches simple or complex since individual operations are simple for both of these approaches.

RE: Different Strategy?
By Spoelie on 12/31/06, Rating: -1
RE: Different Strategy?
By Spoelie on 12/31/2006 10:12:16 AM , Rating: 2
Now that I look at it, the specs say 128 shader (not data) operations per cycle. So while nvidia's shaders run over twice the clock speed as the rest of the gpu, there is apparantly some double pumping going on in ati's shaders as well, beside the fact that they're 4-way.

The only way to know for sure is get confirmation from ati i guess, and that won't happen before the NDA dates are reached.

RE: Different Strategy?
By Spoelie on 12/31/2006 12:24:23 AM , Rating: 2
The difference between the two is that Nvidia's shaders are scalar, i.e. they operate on a single 'number' at any given time. ATi's shaders are 4-way/Vect4 (vectors instead of scalars) in the sense that they can operate on 4 numbers at the same time (SIMD - single instruction multiple data). As such, 64 of ATi shaders AT THEIR PEAK should be equivalent to about 256 of nvidia's scalar shaders.

If you look at it only that way then nvidia wouldn't stand a chance. However, there's also the fact that nvidia runs those shaders at a lot higher clock than the rest of the gpu - we don't know how ATi's shaders are configured as of yet and at what clockspeed they are running.

There are also other factors playing, what is the workload, how many are processing vertex data and how many are processing pixel data, how well are the shaders adapted at their respective workloads, are they being well fed etc. etc. etc.

More details about ATi's configuration will probably only be revealed at the official launch date through tech docs.

RE: Different Strategy?
By otispunkmeyer on 1/2/2007 4:14:40 AM , Rating: 1
the way i understand this is

Ati's shaders being 4-way in theory gives them an upper hand (depending on clocks) like some one their peak and maximum efficiency they should be equiv to 256 of nvidias scalar processors.


the scalar processors NV has will be easier to utilize, they will be more efficient. so yeah Ati's can go 4 ways at once...but it might be harder to keep them working at their peak.

as always, there is usually more than 1 route to the same results, and this is all i see. i expect R600 to be on par with G80. 2 different methods, same outcome...with each having their own little pros and cons.

GDDR3 was expected too, GDDR4 has been used previously by ATi, but i dont think its ready just yet, and the 900Mhz GDDR3 modules seem to have no problems eclipsing 1Ghz either.

it will be interesting to see how the bandwidth increases play out. personally unless you are sporting dell's 30incher i dont think its going to provide much more performance and with shader effects getting more complex and more frequent perhaps memory bandwidth will be less important. i think the massive 115Gb/s bandwidth will go under-utilized for much of its early life.

RE: Different Strategy?
By MAIA on 1/8/2007 8:11:22 AM , Rating: 1
the scalar processors NV has will be easier to utilize, they will be more efficient.

This arguments holds no ground. You simply don't know if ATI shadding engine will be easier or more efficient.

"Spreading the rumors, it's very easy because the people who write about Apple want that story, and you can claim its credible because you spoke to someone at Apple." -- Investment guru Jim Cramer

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