ATI readies 'Rialto' PCIE-to-AGP bridge chip

Paves way for Radeon X800 XT on AGP?

Update To date, ATI executives have skirted around the issue of providing AGP versions of the company's currently PCI Express-only top-end graphics chips, neither confessing plans to release, say, a Radeon X800 XT AGP nor, more importantly, ruling it out.

Currently, say company staffers, the AGP-based Radeon 9800 family is satisfying demand for high-end AGP boards.

However, plans to bring the X range to the AGP world appeared to take a step forward this week when a "well-informed" source told X-bit Labs that ATI has developed a PCIE-to-AGP bridge chip, codenamed 'Rialto', to make such a move possible later this quarter.

ATI has been firm in its stance that bridging an AGP-native graphics chip to the PCI Express bus makes no sense, but Rialto suggests it's less bothered about bridging a PCI Express-native chip to an AGP bus.

The source's comment coincides with the suggestion from one ATI staffer that there's a likelihood that the company will offer an AGP Radeon X part.

Of course performance will take a hit, but ATI presumably believes that there are users out there with AGP-based system who are as yet unwilling to upgrade to PCI Express but want the power boost the Radeon X range provides over the 9800 series.

Indeed, the PCI Express upgrade market "really hasn't picked up yet", according to our source. By far the majority of PCI Express kit shipping is in the form of new PCs, rather than mobo upgrades and so on.

This market may pick up with the arrival of AMD-oriented PCI Express chipsets this quarter.

When Rialto-equipped parts ship isn't known. X-bit's source suggests this quarter, but that may simply mark the part's availability to ATI's board partners who may wish to target the AGP market.

ABIT, for example, is believed to be preparing AGP versions of the X800 Pro and X800 XT for shipment this month, UK online retailer Overclockers.co.uk shows. ®

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