ATI 'M10' Mobile Graphics Preview

ATI 'M10' Mobile Graphics Preview - Page 2


ATI 'M10' Mobile Graphics Preview
Mobile Gaming Diversifies

By, Chris Angelini
March 13th, 2003

Mobility RADEON 9200
As You Were, Sir

When ATI unveiled the RADEON 9800 Pro, it also introduced the RADEON 9600 and RADEON 9200 families.  The 9600 is actually a new design with an improved memory controller and refined manufacturing process, but the 9200 is little more than a RADEON 9000 with AGP 8x.  If you have already drawn the parallel between ATI's desktop and mobile naming conventions, you may have also guessed (correctly) that the Mobility RADEON 9200 is just a Mobility RADEON 9000 with AGP 8x support, meaning ATI's entire product line is now in compliance with the faster host interface.  Simply, the 9200 has four pixel pipelines with a single texture unit per pipe and DirectX 8.1 compatibility.

That last point is where NVIDIA may swing an advantage.  If NVIDIA follows ATI's example and replicates its desktop products in mobile space, we expect to see a variant of NV34, which is a DirectX 9 mainstream part.  Feature sets are important to OEMs, and while ATI may be rocking in the high-end mobile market it remains to be seen how the mainstream will play out. 

Evolution, My Dear Watson

NVIDIA's nForce2 is a very powerful, very popular platform for the Athlon XP processor.  You'll notice NVIDIA sticks to Athlon-compatible chipsets, though.  This is because NVIDIA doesn't hold the license necessary to manufacture chipsets to support the Pentium 4, and thus cannot break into a market that ATI is currently dabbling in, with Intel's blessing.  But ATI can't claim the same sort of performance NVIDIA goes after with nForce2.  Instead, with the RADEON 7000M IGP, ATI is keeping its IGP 340M P4 core logic up to date by adding support for the 533MHz front side bus that Intel first introduced on the desktop.  ATI is also incorporating DDR333 support, which should give the chipset's integrated graphics solution some extra bandwidth to play with.  Additionally, the 7000M supports an external AGP 4x slot for a discrete card.   This gives the chipset a lot of flexibility, as illustrated in the image below.  It can either be used with integrated graphics enabled for value applications, or the external graphics slot can be filled with the Mobility RADEON 9600 for a performance combination.

As with its mobile graphics chips, ATI has enabled power management support in the chipset itself, which is event driven through ACPI and Intel's SpeedStep technology.  Mainly, it features clock scaling for a balance between performance and power consumption. 

Benchmarks and Conclusion

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