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ATI's Radeon X800 256MB and Radeon X850 PRO Preview

by Ryszard Sommefeldt on 9 February 2005, 00:00

Tags: ATi Technologies (NYSE:AMD)

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When I interviewed ATI's Matt Skyner recently, we talked about availability of ATI's GPU products on both PCI Express and AGP. The general tone of his responses indicated that volume of new R480 and R430 products would be as high as possible and that ATI were also committed to bringing some of the PCI Express SKUs to AGP if the market required them. We've seen some evidence of that AGP endeavour recently with spy shots of RIALTO, and today I'm able to bring you further evidence of pervasive availability for R480 and R430 with a look at two new SKUs, one for each GPU.

I gave R480 the once over here and R420 got my reference board treatment here, so I won't dwell on their characteristics too much.

They're effectively the same GPU, built on different process nodes at TSMC, ATI's discrete GPU fabricator. Both are natively PCI Express, both have four fragment quads (groups of four fragment units), a sextuplet of vertex units to feed them, a 256-bit wide memory bus and all the core R4xx series technologies that define ATI's latest parts. That includes support for anti-aliasing at ever higher resolutions, 16X angle-adaptive anisotropic texture filtering and bilinear texture samplers (one per fragment unit), to name just a few.

R480 remains on TSMC's 130nm low-k node, using the 'Black Diamond' dielectric. It improves on R423's peak clock ability by careful internal reorganisation of the silicon, to remove or separate hotspots, along with the implementation of more advanced dynamic clock and voltage adjustment, to reduce heat and power during idle periods.

R430 is built on TSMC's 110nm node, for which there's no low-k option. The smaller process instead affords the shrink of the large R423 die, thus allowing for more dies per wafer at a reduced cost. That leads to more availability at cheaper prices.

They're both offered in three or four quad options to AIBs, with all six vertex units enabled at all times.


X800 is R430 in three-quad configuration at a peak clock of around 400MHz, using GDDR3 memory at around 700MHz. A MSRP of $199 means its the replacement for the two-quad X700 XT at the same price, a SKU dropped from ATI's plans given the larger availability of R430 cores (despite X700's RV410 being built the same process, it allows ATI to use RV410 orders for more X700 PRO and other things). Sapphire also have an interesting 256MB variant at $249, which is what I'll look at today.

X850 PRO

X850 PRO is R480 in three-quad configuration with a peak clock of around 500MHz, using GDDR3 memory at nearly 1050MHz. It carries an MSRP of $399, $100 more than the impressive X800 XL I looked at recently.

So two new three-quad SKUs using the new GPUs, to flesh out ATI's offerings in the high-performance discrete desktop graphics space. Let's have a closer look at the reference boards.