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ATI is waiting for PCI Express to launch Athlon 64 chipsets

RS480 and RX4800 to ship Q2/Q3 2004

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ATI is indeed waiting for the arrival of PCI Express before launching chipsets for the AMD Athlon 64, if a recent Far Eastern AMD reseller presentation is anything to go by.

ATI confirmed last week that it is "committed" to offering Athlon 64 chipsets. However, they're not going to appear for at least six months, ATI President Dave Orton said. We wondered if that was a deliberate attempt to align the release of the chipsets with the emergence of the PCI Express standard.

Well, that's how it looks to AMD. According to a presentation made by the chip maker to its South Korean resellers, posted by web site Dark Crow, ATI's RS480 chipset will indeed offer PCI Express support, along with DirectX 9 graphics. It will sample next quarter before going into volume production in the Q2/Q3 2004 timeframe.

That will put it ahead of Nvidia's next-generation nForce, codenamed 'Crush K8G3', which is expected to sample in Q2 2004 ahead of full-scale production in Q4. It will offer GeForce 4 MX-level graphics. PCI Express-supporting Athlon 64 chipsets from SiS and VIA will ship in next year's third quarter, the slides suggest.

These parts all include their own graphics engine. ATI is also preparing a discrete chipset, the RX480, for release in the same timeframe as the RS480. Both are two-chip solutions and are likely to the use the upcoming SB400 South Bridge, which also uses PCI Express technology. It offers four Serial ATA buses, ATA-100/133 support, eight USB 2.0 ports, PCI and AC97, according to the AMD slides. It too is expected to sample in Q1 2004, with volume production in Q2/Q3. ®

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