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Big GPUs are set to die

First R700 info, and it is cool
Fri Nov 17 2006, 14:01
THE ATI R600 will represent the last of it's breed, the monolithic GPU.

It will be replaced by a cluster of smaller GPUs with the R700 generation. This is the biggest change in the paradigm since 3Dfx came out with SLI, oh so many years ago.

Basically, if you look at the architecture of any modern GPU, R5xx/6xx or G80, it comprises pretty modular units connected by a big interconnect. Imagine if the interconnect was more distributed like say an Opteron and HT, you could have four small chips instead of one big one.

This would have massive advantages on design time, you need to make a chip of quarter the size or less, and just place many of them on the PCB. If you want a low-end board, use one, mid-range use four, pimped out edition, 16. You get the idea, Lego.

It takes a good bit of software magic to make this work, but word has it that ATI has figured out this secret sauce. What this means is R700 boards will be more modular, more scalable, more consistent top to bottom, and cheaper to fab. In fact, when they launch one SKU, they will have the capability to launch them all. It is a win/win for ATI.

There have been several code names floating around for weeks on this, and we hear it is pretty much a done deal. Less concrete is the rumour that G90 will take a similar path, but things are pointing in that direction.

G80 and R600, or most likely their descendants in the next half-generation step, will be the biggest GPUs ever. I am not sure this is something to be proud of, but the trigger has been pulled on the next big thing. The big GPU is dead, long live the swarm of little GPUs. µ


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