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ATI unveils integrated, discrete Radeon Xpress chipsets

Targets Athlon 64, Sempron

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ATI today formally launched its Radeon Xpress 200 series of chipsets, as anticipated, formerly known as the RS480 and RX480.

Initially targeting AMD's Athlon 64 and Sempron processors, the Radeon Xpress 200 and 200P equip the chip with PCI Express support and, in the case of the 200, DirectX 9 graphics, with both vertex shader 2.0 and pixel shader 2.0 support. The graphics core has two pixel pipelines.

The 200 is pitched at mainstream applications, in both the consumer and business PC segments. It supports both Socket 754 and Socket 939 CPUs mounted on ATX and micro-ATX motherboards. ATI said it will also offer a package that bundled the 200 with its "PVR on a chip" Theater 550 TV chip, targeted at multimedia systems, including Media Center PCs.

The 200P, AMD's first discrete chipset, is aimed at gamers, and focuses on Athlon 64 and Athlon 64-FX CPUs. It is also designed to offer a degree of overclockability.

Both parts provide a 16x PCI-E bus for graphics cards and four 1x PCI-E lanes for regular add-in cards. The chipset's North and South Bridge components connect across a pair of PCI-E lanes. Old-style PCI is supported too. The chipsets provide DVI and VGA output and AC'97 audio. They can control up to eight USB 2.0 ports, and up to four Serial ATA devices with RAID 0 and 1 support, and two parallel ATA units.

The chipsets utilise ATI's HyperMemory system, which can access system memory across the PCI-E bus, AGP-fashion to increase the frame buffer beyond the 128MB local graphics RAM the chipset supports, or to replace local memory altogether.

However, neither offers LAN support directly - instead, ATI touted controllers from Broadcom and Marvell. ATI reckons board makers are far keener on adding their own networking parts than relying on integrated LAN controllers, even though it sees Gigabit Ethernet as a key component of PCI-E mobos. Its arch-rival, Nvidia has integrated Gigabit Ethernet into its nForce 4 series of PCI-E chipsets.

But even Nvidia knows mobo makers like some choice, which is one of the reasons why nForce 4 only ships with AC'97 audio. So do ATI's new chipsets, for the same reason.

ATI Radeon Xpress 200

The Radeon Xpress 200 and 200P are already shipping, ATI said. It did not disclose pricing. The two chipsets are pin-compatible and fabbed at 130nm. ®

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