Mountain House (CA) – Unlike the ATI that we knew before, it appears that AMD’s graphics division is running perfectly these days – and ahead of deadlines. Even though the graphics unit has posted an $8 million loss in the first quarter of this year – in an effort to improve market share rather than average selling prices - the graphics business is making progress: We hear the company has struck gold with the RV770 and will be bring the chip to market earlier than expected.
AMD’s next graphics cards are being prepared for launch: During the Q1 earnings call, president and chief operating officer Dirk Meyer stated that the company will roll out a significant number of products in May and our sources now confirmed that the introductions will include desktop and mobile (M88) graphics parts.
RV770 will launch as Radeon 4800 and will make its way into the FireStream stream processor and FireGL workstation cards. Both GDDR3 and GDDR5 memory will be supported by the chip, but ATI itself will only be offering GDDR5 cards. The Radeon 4850 version is set to come to market with an 800+ MHz core (the final clock has not been specified yet and will not be available until the final qualification is completed), while the 4870 will be the first mass-production GPU with a clock speed higher than 1 GHz. Prototype RV770 boards were clocked at about 1.05 GHz.
The graphics processor itself will integrate more texture memory units (TMUs), which is the Achilles’ heel of the R6xx generation: 32 TMUs in the RV770 will challenge the 56/64 units of Nvidia’s G92/G92b.
The new graphics card generation is expected to become available to system integrators and OEMs in GDDR3/GDDR5 variants with 256/512/1024 MB buffers. 256 MB GDDR3 cards are exclusively targeted at OEMs (as well as ODMs, Sis) and are unlikely to shop up in retail. Expect to see mainly 512 MB GDDR5 cards in retail for both the 4850 and 4870. Just like the GPU, the memory clock isn’t set in stone either, but we were told that the GDDR5 memory is currently running at a physical clock of 1.8 - 2.2 GHz.
With a 256-bit memory controller, we’re talking about 115 to 141 GB/s of bandwidth. This number equals the memory bandwidth record set by the 2900XT 1GB GDDR4 (512-bit interface with GDDR4 at 1.1 GHz DDR).
While we expect the desktop boards to be announced soon, RV770-based FireGL boards will not be introduced until Siggraph 2008, which will open its doors on August 11.