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ATI GPU to be first X part

Diagonal interconnects = cheaper chips

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ATI's fabrication partner, TSMC, has begun punching out graphics chips for the company that use 45° diagonal interconnections rather than the more common right-angled wiring pattern.

A subtle distinction, certainly, but one the technique's supporters believe will boost any chip's performance while lowering its cost, power consumption and die size.

ATI didn't say which chip uses this so-called X Architecture, but it's an 110nm part developed for PCI Express usage, and it's due to ship in late Q4 for both desktop and mobile applications. The X Initiative, the body overseeing the development and implementation of the X Architecture, is keen to tout ATI's move because the chip is the first commercially available product to be based on X. So far, all the industry has seen are test chips.

X's gains arise by reducing the amount of interconnect wiring by up to 20 per cent over the traditional right-angled grid. A number of other connections are shortened too, by up to 30 per cent. X is applied to the fourth and fifth layers of the chip - the first, second and third layers maintain the traditional geometry, dubbed the 'Manhattan' architecture for its resemblance to the New York island's street layout.

For ATI, use of X allowed it to remove one metal layer from the chip's die, making the part cheaper to produce.

TSMC said it was currently working on a 90nm version of the architecture and has a 65nm version in the pipeline. ATI's chip was designed using X-aware tools from chip design software company Cadence. ®

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