Computex 2002 Day 2: ATI's R300, nForce2 & XScale PDAsby Anand Lal Shimpi on June 4, 2002 11:24 AM EST
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We provided an exclusive look at Intel's Springdale chipset to our Newsletter Subscribers earlier today and now we're offering the same information from that piece in our Day 2 wrap up coverage as well. If you'd like to receive these exclusive looks first you'll want to sign up for our free Newsletter here.
VIA Demonstrates ATI's R300
While in VIA's suite we noticed a couple of demos running, one of which happened to be a test of AGP 8X functionality on the KT400 chipset. Although VIA's AGP 8X controller still has issues with SiS' Xabre 400 core, VIA wanted to prove that the chipset did in fact support AGP 8X so they displayed it running with the only other AGP 8X graphics card they had access to - ATI's R300.
Just a few weeks ago we were in Toronto visiting ATI and they were very tight lipped about anything R300 related; it will be interesting to see if VIA was supposed to be publicly running this R300 in their suite.
There wasn't much we could gather from seeing the R300 run demo loops over and over again; benchmarking it was out of the question. The card was stable and as you can probably guess by now, this was the card that was running Doom 3 at E3 a couple weeks ago. The reason id Software was demonstrating Doom 3 on the R300 is simply because ATI has the fastest GPU that is in a stable enough form to actually run for any appreciable period of time. ATI's release schedule has always given them the ability to beat NVIDIA to the punch when it comes down to their Fall product releases. ATI usually releases in the Summer and NVIDIA follows in the Fall. The development of R300 has placed it in a very healthy state today and we are expecting to hear an announcement from ATI in the July/August timeframe.
Given that the chip is already up and running and production is due soon we are beginning to wonder if the R300 will be made on a 0.13-micron process or if it will be 0.15-micron like its predecessor. If it is indeed a 0.15-micron chip then there is the question of whether ATI will make it a DX9 compliant part with full floating point pipelines. Assuming ATI does make the R300 as feature rich as NVIDIA's NV30 currently appears on paper, then there's the question of yield and clock speeds. It will be interesting to see the design choices ATI made with the R300 and how that effects competition with the NV30 later this year.
The one thing that we could gather from the card that VIA was running is an idea of memory clock speeds. The DDR SDRAM chips used on the 128MB R300 card were 2.86ns parts rated at 350MHz, thus you can assume an effective memory clock of 700MHz. It is also safe to assume that the R300 has a 256-bit memory bus much like the Parhelia-512 and 3DLabs P10 GPUs resulting in 22.4GB/s of raw memory bandwidth without taking any sort of occlusion culling technology into consideration. Granted that this isn't an indication of final shipping clock speeds but it should give you a ballpark figure to expect from R300. With ATI providing boards for E3 and VIA's AGP 8X test, it will only be a matter of time before we see cards in reviewers' hands and eventually on store shelves.