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ATI paves way for sub-$50 graphics cards

Radeon X300 SE targets integrated chipsets

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ATI today introduced a low-end Radeon X-class graphics card that utilises the company's AGP-like HyperMemory technology to save money by limiting the on-board memory.

The Radeon X300 SE is expected to ship in 128MB and 256MB versions, of which just 32MB and 128MB, respectively, consists of on-card video memory. The rest is taken from the host system's main memory bank, accessed across the PCI Express bus.

Clearly anyone who's chosen a PCI Express machine is likely to have a more powerful graphics card in any case, so ATI is pitching the part primarily against PCI-E machines built from integrated chipsets, in particular Intel's.

Integrated graphics core are not only offering ever-better performance, but crucially they're grabbing a bigger and bigger share of the graphics chip market. That's why Intel's graphics market share dwarfs those of ATI and Nvidia even though it doesn't make standalone desktop or notebook graphics cores.

If it's to win back share, ATI has to offer a product that's signifcantly more powerful yet not much more expensive than the 'free' graphics sub-systems in integrated chipsets.

Hence the X300 SE cards, which ATI reckons will cost consumers less than $59 a pop yet offers around 60 per cent more performance, when measured using 3DMark 03 at 1024 x 768.

ATI also claimed its product offered better performance and a lower price than arch-rival Nvidia's competing product, the GeForce 6200 with TurboCache. TurboCache is Nvidia's answer to HyperMemory.

Radeon X300 SE-derived graphics cards will be available "soon" from ATI itself and third-parties, including ABIT, Asus, MSI, Sapphire, Tul, Gigabyte and VisionTek.

Separately, ATI today unveiled the ES1000, a PCI 2D graphics chip for servers and thin clients.

Clocked at 200MHz, with a 250MHz memory bus, the chip supports DDR and DDR 2 SDRAM across a 16-bit bus. The part supports dual CRT and DVO ports for external Flat Panel or KVM remote server management technology. ®

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