R481 is a R480, for the Radeon X850 with an AGP interface. ATI won't bridge this chipm it will make it nativem as ATI decided to do native chips as long as it makes sense to do so. We heard this from the ATI CEO back at Computex 2004.
ATI learned that yields on R480, X850 PCIe are much better than on the R420 or R423 chips and decided to make one more AGP part based on R480 marchitecture. ATI had to do two tape outs, one for the already shinily shipping R480 and one for the soon to be shipped R481, as they are different chips. Not too much different, but one chip is native PCIe while the other is native AGP. The rest is similar.
This will be the first time that ATI will be able to ship Radeon X8x0 high end series in quantities, as it failed to bring any decent quantities of R420 based Radeon X800XT PE. Things look better for the X850 AGP, unless Dell buys all R481 based cards one more time.
The R481 chip is expected in February, and cards based on it are likely to be available in March. We should see this one at CeBIT and it already sounds like we will be able to see some nice things at this coming German show. µ
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