ATI preps A3 alternative to Nvidia's nForce

Due Q4, it's been a long time coming

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ATI will launch against Nvidia's nForce chipset in Q4 with a graphics-oriented offering of its own, codenamed A3.

So the company has told mobo makers, or so claims Web site Xbit Labs, citing information leaked to a second, Ukrainian site.

According to that data, A3 will support the Pentium III and AMD's Athlon. Maybe, but we reckon the Pentium 4 might be closer to the centre of ATI's sights. The company has a P4 licence, granted it by Intel earlier this year. Intel itself is now driving the P4 very hard, to the extend that it will introduce preferential pricing (over the PIII) later this month. In such circumstances, ATI would be daft not to factor the P4 into its plans, particularly while Nvidia still has no P4 licence of its own and won't be geared up for a P4 version of nForce until mid-2002.

But that's our take - now back to the leak. Apparently, ATI is only working on the Northbridge - it's recommending parts from Acer Labs. A3 will support PC1600 and PC2100 DDR SDRAM. There's an integrated clock too, it seems.

Despite sporting integrated graphics, A3, will also support an external AGP slot. The built-in graphics will be based on the cut-down version of the upcoming Radeon 2 core - RV200, the chip that is expected to power ATI's Radeon 2 VE card. The RV200 has only two rendering pipelines; Radeon 2 (aka R200) has four.

With the Radeon 2 going into mass production now for a late September release and the RV200 due a little further down the line, the timing of A3, as per the leaked data, fits nicely into that schedule.

And about time, really. ATI first discussed a move into the chipset market way back in April 1999 (see ATI move on chipset market targets Intel) - a move that may have influenced Nvidia's decision to target that market rather than the other way round. ATI's move followed its acquisition the previous year of system-on-a-chip developer Chromatic Research, and was geared to drive the company into the information appliance market. Conveniently, it also helped it shore itself against Intel's plan to ship integrated chipsets. ®

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Related Link

Xbit Labs: ATI's A3


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