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R520, "Fudo" rocks at over 600MHz

Yields still slim
Wed Jul 06 2005, 11:48
ATI IS STILL not ready to ship its R520 "Fudo" chip and cards based on it. The first samples left ATI in May, but the company is not satisfied with the yields it is getting from the pioneering 90 nanometre wafers it's using. There are quite a few cards out there, but it's very hard to get hold of one. I tracked down at least four cards in different spheres of life, but the travelling involved means I can't run any tests on them.

You should know by now that ATI R520 is a 90 nanometre experiment and it risked a lot with this high end shrink. Before, ATI always made the move or should we say die shrink at the low end or mainstream end of the market, and then went to high end but this time it did it the other way round.

We know that ATI re-taped out the chip recently as it wants better yields from it, but as I said before that chip has 32 pipelines inside, it's not an easy baby to make work. It's all a matter of how many pipelines ATI wants to enable as this chip can work just fine with 24 pipes. We are hearing that there are no more pipelines and that all is programmable, but we are still not buying this story. Last time we heard this, Nvidia started talking how wide is its pipe and we are just not swallowing this one. A pipe is a pipe is a hype.

The strong point of R520 will surely be yields. There is absolutely no question it will end up faster than Nvidia G70, Geforce 7800GTX offerings. That's why Nvidia has Ultra on hold and some other card tricks up its corporate sleeves. As you can imagine, the G70 will get its 90 nanometre brother down the road, toward the end of the year if necessary, or early next year if it needs to or has the opportunity to buy some extra time.

The 600+ MHz clocked 90 nanometre chip with 24 pipelines would end up quite fast while 32 pipes would surely rock the world. It all depends how much performance ATI needs, to compete with Nvidia's latest real and shipping chips.

An additional problem for ATI is that Nvidia is about to do its second hard launch as it will launch and ship Geforce 7800 GT on the same day. ATI might have some trouble if it doesn't launch the card when it is ready to ship it but let's leave that as just a possibility for now.

Nvidia won the battle with 7800 GTX but the war is far from being over. All eyes are now on ATI as everyone is waiting to see who will end up the fastest. That's all that matters right? µ


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