ATi PCI Express Sneak Peek
Recently ATi spent time with us going over their soon to be launched PCI Express based offering of 3D Graphics cards. Although we're unable to share performance metrics with you today, due to the current NDA embargo status of Intel's forthcoming i925X, i915G and i915P chipsets (and ATi's coordination of availability for that launch), we can show you a bit about these new products, as well as the introductory model flavors that ATi will be bringing to market later this month.
If you recall, back in March we covered both ATi and NVIDIA's approach to PCI Express technology. ATi took the high road offering native integration of a custom built 16 lane PCI Express core in their VPU strategy. This was certainly no small feat, since back in the time this standard was being defined with Intel and others, ATi didn't have the luxury of licensing a PCI Express core but instead had to develop the technology organically with their own design resources and development efforts.
In this day and age, where core building blocks are sometimes stuck together like Legos, this approach actually allowed ATi to hand tune the PCI Express interface for optimal integration into their VPU architecture. We recall an NVIDIA representative once coined the phrase, the "Franken-chip" when speaking about their competitor's technology. Ironically enough, that statement couldn't have been further from the truth, with NVIDIA's bridge approach actually feeling more like a kludge than the simple elegance of a single chip fully integrated design. Also, it is rumored now that NVIDIA's upcoming NV45 core is still a PCI Express/AGP bridge implementation only in the form of an MCM (multi-chip module). The question that still remains however is, how close it is to being delivered to market?
At the top of ATi's PCI Express lineup is the new ATi Radeon X800 XT. The PCI Express version of the X800 XT comes with dual DVI connectors, the way a high end card should. Users that require standard VGA connections can use an included adapter that will convert the signal and allow for standard CRT connections. However, we fancy ourselves a dual Dell 2001FP display someday in the not so distant future. X800 XT goodness in simultaneous independent 21" displays with 16ms pixel response times. Oh, the nirvana - it almost gets us emotional just thinking about it.
What's also interesting to note is that this card comes delivered sans the "Platinum Edition" branding. In short, that means the core and memory clocks are going to be set at 500MHz Core Engine and 500MHz DDR or 1GHz Memory speeds. Another final note, is the new 6 pin power connector that is utilized on this card, as you can see clearly in the top right hand corner of the above shot of the product. Word is that the R423 based X800 XT will require an external power connector but the 12 pipe X800 Pro will not due to the increased power output load capacity of the PCI Express interface.