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Will ATI beat Nvidia to a 0.11µ process?

RV370, PCI Express offering on the cards
Wed Mar 31 2004, 11:33
ATI IS INDEED toying with an entry-level card, currently codenamed RV370, that will be developed, we understand, with the help of a 0.11 micron marchitecture.

The card, which was previously codenamed RV351 and is now codenamed RV370, is a pure DirectX 9 part and obviously PCI Express, since Intel decided AGP should die a suitable death. The card will slip into sub 100 $/€ market, we can reveal.

Along with being a native PCI Express part, RV370 supports MSAA and 16-bit Anisotropic filtering and will support 64 and 128 MB configurations.

Its four pipeline architecture will be supported by either a 64- or 128-bit memory interface, depending on the card manufacturer's configuration. And we reckon it'll give Nvidia's PCX 5200 a run for its money.

We expect this ATI chip to use a 0.11 micron process, which would mean that ATI may be ahead on handling this marchitecture.

Nvidia has mentioned this tiddly process and said it will be "one of the first" semiconductor companies to "manufacture select up-coming graphics processing units (GPUs) at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's (TSMC's) 0.11 µm (micron) process technology."

So it has some plans for it but not as soon as ATI has. Nvidia is keeping this shrinking violet for its next generation it seems.

ATI's usual method is to first try out a new marchitecture on mainstream cards like they did with the RV350, which became the Radeon 9600 PRO, their 0.13 pioneer. And now, the RV370, their PCI Express 0.11 pioneer seems to be in good step. ATI first learns of any problems such marchitectural changes may throw up and then moves its high-end part to the process. There's less money to be earned at the high end, but there's more glory - which is why ATI needs to ensure there are no performance issues which could affect its need for speed.

The lower-end cards should sit in the $79 chair and give Nvidia's offering a very nasty scrap.

Samples were scheduled for May but we don't have any idea about availability. We suspect, however, that ATI will introduce its first PCI Express contenders shortly thereafter. µ


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