ATI releases first GDDR4 memory graphics card

Markham (ON) - ATI today announced two new high-end and two entry-level graphics cards. The Radeon X1950 series carries the firm's brand-new R580 graphics chip and introduces GDDR4 graphics memory running at 2 GHz to enthusiasts. The manufacturer claims that the new cards X1950 XTX flagship card beats the performance of rivaling dual-GPU solutions.

Ready to spend some money on a graphics chip upgrade? If only the best is good enough and if it has to be ATI, then new X1950 cards may soon be trying to get your attention. ATI's latest graphic chip promises to be a substantial improvement over the previous X1900 generation with performance increases of about 10% across popular benchmarks, according to numbers provided by ATI.

X1950 cards are available in XTX and Crossfire versions and are based on ATI's R580 GPU, which is already shipping for X1900 graphics cards, is built in a 90 nm process and integrates 384 million transistors. The chip offers up to 48 pixel shaders, eight vertex shaders and - perhaps most notably - the first commercial 256-bit GDDR4 memory interface. Based on DDR2 memory technology, the graphics memory runs at an effective clock speed of 2 GHz; the graphics core is clocked at 650 MHz. ATI said that the chip is able to process up to 512 pixel threads in parallel.

Also noteworthy is a new fansink that, according to the manufacturer, results in a cooler and quieter operation.

ATI claims that the X1950 XTX can beat competing dual-GPU solutions by using just one processor. Tom's Hardware had the chance to send an initial X1950 XTX card through our test parcours and found that the ATI card prevailed over Nvidia's cards in six out of ten relevant benchmarks. However, the card achieved this result mainly in low screen resolutions and was able to win only one benchmark in an "extreme HD resolution" of 2560x1600 pixel. Detailed results will soon be posted on Tom's Hardware.

For some users, it may not be the performance of the X1950 XTX that may be especially appealing, as Nvidia's GX2 offers superior performance on large screens. Instead, ATI's cards could be viewed as the better deal at a suggested retail price of about $450 - which is about $100 below the average retail price of Nvidia's Geforce 7950 GX2 cards.

Next to the X1950s, ATI also announced additions to its entry-level portfolio. The Radeon X1650 Pro will sell for around $100 and offer a dual-link DVI interface, a core clock speed of 600 MHz and a GDDR3 memory speed of 1.4 GHz. New is also the X1300 XT with a 500 MHz core and 800 MHz memory speed.

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