ATI Technologies Bets on DDR2 667MHz

@ 2004/04/07
ATI Technologies is still about to release the revamped version of its RADEON 9100 IGP, however, sources with knowledge of the company’s plans are already beginning to spread the preliminary information about the company’s next-generation chipsets with DirectX 9.0 graphics core, PCI Express and DDR2 SDRAM support.

As far as ATI Technologies’ partners estimate, already in the late third quarter of the year the company will mass-produce three new North Bridges for Intel Pentium 4 microprocessors featuring brand-new architecture: RS400, RC400 and RU400. All three will have integrated powerful DirectX 9.0 graphics core, support for 800MHz or faster processor system bus and memory controllers able to work with PC3200 (DDR400) and DDR2 667MHz memory.

ATI’s code-named RS400 chip will be ATI’s premier next-generation core-logic offering for Intel platforms that boasts with dual-channel DDR/DDR2 memory controllers, PCI Express x16 port for graphics cards and PCI Express x4 port for high-speed add-in cards, such as RAID or Gigabit Ethernet controllers. Chips code-named RC400 and RU400 will be intended for value PCs; the RC400 will have only single-channel memory controller, while the RU400 will have single-channel memory controller and no PCI Express x16 port for graphics cards.

Additional headroom with processor system bus as well as DDR2 memory speeds may indicate the company’s plans to introduce the new chipsets a bit later than anticipated now, or intention to present core-logic products with extended life-span, as Intel’s processors with higher than 800MHz Quad Pumped Bus as well as DDR2 memory at 667MHz in mass quantities are only projected to transpire in the Q2 2005. Among chipset designers only SiS plans to allow its products to handle 667MHz and even 800MHz DDR2 memory officially this year.

Markham, Ontario-based ATI Technologies also has some clear plans for chipsets with PCI Express bus and DirectX 9.0 graphics designed for AMD’s 64-bit processors. Currently there is information about two such parts code-named RS480 and RX480. ATI RS480 will boast with PCI Express interconnections support, as well as incorporate a DirectX 9.0 graphics core. It is projected to be sampled in the first quarter of 2004 and will go into mass production sometime in the second or the third quarters of the year. The chipset will have Unified Memory Architecture for its graphics core and is not likely to deliver stunning speed in demanding DirectX 9.0 applications. ATI RX480 is the same as RS480 from the micro-architectural stand-point, but without any integrated graphics – probably a simple PCI Express 16x (PEG x16) tunnel.

ATI’s next-generation I/O controller – IXP400 – is said to provide 4 Serial ATA-150 ports, Parallel ATA-100/133 support, 8 USB 2.0 ports, AC’97 audio and so on. The South Bridge is scheduled for sampling in the Q1 2004 and for mass-production in Q3 2004. The company also plans to introduce its IXP500 bridge with High-Definition 7.1 audio in the first half of 2005.

Besides those long-term intentions, ATI plans a more powerful core-logic product to emerge in two months time. The revamped RADEON 9100 IGP will bring new memory controller as well as tweaked performance in addition to LGA775 microprocessors support. It also makes sense to expect this one to have more I/O options, but this is something ATI does not want to comment on. The new chipset’s code-name is RS350 and this is based on general architecture of the RADEON 9100 IGP (RS300).

ATI’s totally new core-logic product, the RS400 with integrated DirectX 9 graphics, is likely to come at a very different date, sometimes within 12 months from now, the company said at CeBIT 2004 in mid-March.

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