Original Link: http://www.anandtech.com/show/1239



We have just stumbled upon week-old ATI roadmaps confirming and putting to rest a number of the rumors that have been floating around. For whatever reason, information on ATI has been difficult to come by whereas we've seen a lot reported on NVIDIA. That all changes today as we uncover ATI's plans for 2004.

There's no need for a lengthy introduction, let's get to it...

PCI Express

ATI's entire roadmap revolves around the transition to PCI Express, which ATI is particularly happy with since they will be providing native PCI Express GPUs from the get-go. The difference between a native PCI Express GPU and a "bridge" solution is that the latter has a little translator that takes PCI Express interface commands and converts them to AGP interface commands which are then sent off to the GPU. Obviously a bridge solution isn't very elegant and it isn't desirable from any standpoint other than a time-to-market one as it's always quicker and easier to have one GPU that can talk to any interface. Eventually no GPUs will have this silly PCI Express bridge, but at the start ATI is happy to announce that all of their GPUs will be "bridge-free."

In order to accomplish a bridge-free roadmap, ATI has to have two versions of every GPU: a PCIe and an AGP version (or an AGP substitute). Keep this in mind as we look at the GPUs due out in '04 since you'll be seeing two per market segment, one AGP and one PCIe.

It's also worth noting that all of ATI's GPUs will be available in both PCIe and AGP flavors throughout 2004.

R420 and R423 at the High End

We have been hearing about R420 for quite some time now and recently the name R423 has been in the headlines. As you can guess, R420 is the AGP successor to the R350 (Radeon 9800) while R423 is a PCIe version of the R420. The specs on the two GPUs are as follows:

  • 0.13-micron low-k manufacturing process
  • 160M transistors
  • ~500MHz core clock
  • 8 pipe design
  • 6 vertex engines
  • Improvements to all of the basic architectural features (shader engines, AA, etc...)
  • 256MB 256-bit GDDR3 (~1GHz data rate)
  • Single slot design

The R420/423 chips will offer twice the pixel fill rate and vertex throughput of the R350 core, as well as increases in memory bandwidth. Initial indications show that there may be two versions of the R420/423 with different memory clocks; one design calls for ~1GHz GDDR3 memory while the other calls for slower DDR1 memory.

It isn't clear whether R423 (PCIe) based designs will eventually carry higher clock speeds than their AGP counterparts, but there is a definite possibility.

2004 ATI Enthusiast GPU Roadmap

Name

Radeon 9800 XT
N/A
N/A
N/A
Chipset
R360
R420
R423
R480
GPU Clock
412MHz
~500MHz
~500MHz
???
Memory Clock
730MHz
1.0GHz
1.0GHz
???
Memory Width
256-bit
256-bit
256-bit
???
Process
0.15-micron
0.13-micron
0.13-micron
???
Memory Type
GDDR2
GDDR3
GDDR3
???
Pipeline
8
8
8
???
Vertex Shaders
4
6
6
???
Transistor Count
110Mil
160Mil
160Mil
???
Interface
AGP
AGP
PCI-Express
???
Availability
Now
Q2'04
Q2'04
H2'04

 

Slightly less high-end: RV380

ATI's roadmaps call the RV380 the "world first PCI Express graphics controller," which says to us that we'll see RV380 before we'll see R423 (but not necessarily before R420). The RV380 will not have an AGP version, instead if you want AGP support ATI suggests you look at the Radeon 9800 (non-Pro) or the Radeon 9600XT, which give you an idea of the RV380's pricepoint. The RV380 specs are as follows:

  • 0.13-micron low-k manufacturing process
  • ~500MHz core clock
  • 4 pipe design
  • 2 vertex engines
  • Improvements to all of the basic architectural features (shader engines, AA, etc...)
  • 128/256MB 128-bit (600 - 800MHz data rate)
  • Single slot design
2004 ATI Midrange GPU Roadmap

Name

Radeon 9600 XT
N/A
N/A
Chipset
RV360
RV380
RV410
GPU Clock
500MHz
~500MHz
???
Memory Clock
600MHz
~800MHz
???
Memory Width
128-bit
128-bit
???
Process
0.13-micron
0.13-micron
???
Memory Type
GDDR
N/A
???
Pipeline
4
4
???
Vertex Shaders
2
2
???
Transistor Count
75 Million
N/A
???
Interface
AGP
PCI-Express
???
Availability
Now
Q2'04
Q2'04

RV380 seems to keep the same core clock as the Radeon 9600XT but potentially improves on memory performance thanks to a higher maximum memory clock. It looks like RV380 is just a PCIe derivative of the RV360.

RV370 - 0.11-micron

ATI's roadmap for the first half of 2004 closes with the low-end RV370 built on a 0.11-micron process. The RV370 will feature 4 rendering pipelines and 2 vertex engines but its 0.11-micron feature size should make the chip very affordable. We unfortunately don't have much more information at RV370 at this time.

2004 ATI Value GPU Roadmap

Name

Radeon 9000
N/A
Chipset
RV250
RV370
GPU Clock
250MHz
???
Memory Clock
400MHz
~600MHz
Memory Width
64/128-bit
64/128-bit
Process
0.15-micron
0.11-micron
Memory Type
GDDR
???
Pipeline
4
4
Vertex Shaders
2
2
Transistor Count
36 Million
???
Interface
AGP
???
Availability
Now
Q2'04

 

What's in store for Fall?

Of course we wouldn't just leave you with information about what's around the corner, but here's what to expect in the Fall from ATI:

  • The R420/423 will receive a speed-bump refresh called the R480.
  • The RV380 will get a similar bump with the RV410.
    • The RV410 will also be offered in an AGP solution, unlike the RV380.
  • The low end remains virtually unchanged, with the RV380 and RV370 trickling down to lower price points but there won't be any new cores below the RV410 in 2H '04.

As usual, you asked and we do our best to deliver. As we get more information on the next generation of GPUs we'll be sure to share, until then enjoy :)

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