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ATI to launch R520 '26 July'

A month after Nvidia launched GeForce 7800

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Nvidia is set to launch its next-generation graphics chip, the GeForce 7800, aka 'G70', on 21 June in San Francisco.

According to a GamesIndustry.biz report, Nvidia's arch-rival, ATI, will unveil its next-gen part, codenamed R520, a month later, on 26 July.

The report doesn't mention the chip's shipping brand name, or provide any indication as to its specifications.

Nvidia partners had GeForce 7800-based boards pumping out pixels at Computex 2005 in Taipei last week, though they were all being kept out of the public gaze. It's believed the G70 will ship as the 7800, 7800 GT and 7800 GTX, with the top-end part sporting 24 pixel processing pipelines and eight vertex engines. Together they can calculate 860m vertices and shade 10.32bn pixels every second. The three chips will contain the next versions of Nvidia's CineFX and Intellisample technologies to support DirectX 9 Shader Model 3.0 and OpenGL 2.0. SLi support will be there too, though not necessarily in all versions of the chip. The G70 operates a 256-bit memory bus out to GDDR 3 SDRAM.

ATI's launch a month after Nvidia's may prove to be less substantial. Sources said to be close to the company have claimed the chip maker is respinning the R520 in a bid to boost the chip's yields, Xbit Labs reports.

The source alleges the chip is fully functional, but ATI is concerned about the number of working parts that are being pressed out of each wafer. Yields are typically low in the early stages of a chip's production lifecycle, but that's usually offset by the higher prices new, high-end parts command. The R520 is believed to be being fabbed at 90nm by TSMC.

That aside, ATI is likely to use the month after Nvidia launches to tune its core and memory clock speeds in a bid to beat the G70's performance.

The R520 is expected to support Shader Model 3.0, a feature missing from previous generations of ATI chips because, the company said, supporting software isn't yet readily available. The chip will also support ATI's CrossFire technology, its answer to Nvidia's SLi. ®

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