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ATI unwraps latest GPU technology

Mobile and desktop launches

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ATI brought its latest GPU technology to the mobile market today when it launched the Mobility Radeon X600.

The chip maker also unveiled a series of low-end desktop chips.

Formerly codenamed 'M24', the mobile chip is a cut-down version of the X800 Pro graphics processor ATI launched last month. The X600's graphics core provides two vertex processing pipelines and four pixel pipelines - the X800 has six and 12, respectively. It connects to memory across a 128-bit bus, half the size of the X800's. The X600 uses vanilla DDR, the X800 uses GDDR 3.

What the mobile X600 does offer over the desktop X800 is what ATI calls its "LCD Enhancement Engine", which is intended to improve the quality of video played back on an LCD. The system appears to use anti-aliasing to make the image less jagged, and playback can be set to take account of the display's latency, which should result in smoother visuals.

ATI also introduced the latest version of its PowerPlay power conservation technology, 5.0, which adds dynamic backlight control of the kind Intel is expected to include 'Alviso' chipset, the basis for Centrino 2.

The display backlight is one of a notebook's main power eaters, if not the hungriest. Lowering the backlight with video frames that can get away with a lower setting has the potential to yield big battery life savings, though ATI was cautious enough not to make any predictions.

The mobile X600 will be offered in three forms: just a core, or the core with 64MB or 128MB of on-module memory. Indeed, these form the basis for ATI's answer to Nvidia's MXM, Axiom.

Like Alviso's Media Graphics Accelerator 900 core, the X600 is PCI Express native. So is the desktop X600, which ATI also unveiled today, along with an even lower end part, the X300.

The X600 shares the mobile version's four pixel pipelines, two vertex pipes and 128-bit memory bus. It's available in two forms: the X600 XT, which sports a core clocked at 500MHz and memory at 740MHz. The X600 Pro's core runs at 400MHz, its memory at 600MHz. Those figures yield performance of 250m and 225m triangles per second, respectively for the XT and the Pro. The two chips' quoted fill rates are 2.0bn and 1.8bn pixels per second.

Both chips support 128MB or 256MB of DDR SDRAM. They are fabbed at 130nm using low-k dielectric insulation - as is the Mobility Radeon X600.

The X300, however, is ATI's first 110nm GPU, though minus the low-k. It offers the same four pixel pipelines and four vertex pipes as the X600s, but is clocked at 325MHz (core) and 400MHz (memory). Again, there are two SKUs: the X300 and the X300SE - the latter drops the former's 128-bit memory bus for a 64-bit job. Both parts will support 64MB or 128MB of DDR SDRAM, but the vanilla X300 will also cope with 256MB.

Both parts can churn out 163m triangles per second and fill 1.3bn pixels in the same timeframe.

ATI sees all four desktop parts as establishing PCI Express in the mid-range. The X300 in particular will also drive the availability of add-in cards for Intel's BTX PC form factor. ®

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