AMD plots cheaper DX10 performance graphics

New 55nm DirectX 10 graphics chip could revive ATI fortunes

The internet is abuzz with rumours and reports of a new affordable high performance PC graphics chip from AMD. Cooked up by AMD's graphics arm ATI, the new GPU is codenamed RV670. If the reports are accurate, it promises to make truly high performance DirectX 10 PC graphics affordable for the first time.

The big news is the use of a new super-fine 55nm production process. That's the smallest process yet used for a graphics processor. Finer processes mean smaller chips and typically higher clockspeeds. It's thought the RV670 will pack more features and performance than ever seen in an "affordable" PC graphics solution.

Flagship die shrink?

Indeed, if the rumours are right, the chip is more or less a die shrink of ATI's existing 80nm flagship GPU, the Radeon HD 2900 XT. There is one exception - instead of the 2900 XT's ultra high performance 512-bit memory bus, RV670 makes do with a more conventional 256-bit item.

In all other regards, it's thought RV670 will be at least as powerful, if not more so, than the 2900 XT. That means the full compliment of 320 stream shaders and all 16 render output units are present. Plus, the new production process could allow RV670 to actually clock higher than 742MHz achieved by the Radeon HD 2900 XT.

The RV670 is also expected to improve on the 2900 XT by virtue of upgrading its DirectX and shader support to DirectX 10.1 and Model 4.1, respectively. Support for PCI Express 2.0 is new as well.

Despite that, however, RV670-based video boards could sell for well under £200, again thanks to that frugal 55nm production process.

For gamers hoping to make the most of upcoming DirectX 10 titles such as Crysis, Alan Wake and Hellgate: London, this could be the GPU they are waiting for - powerful but affordable DirectX 10 performance.

What's more, as well as raising the bar for affordable desktop DX10 graphics, RV670 could form the basis of a killer mobile GPU. Certainly it would be much higher performing than any existing DX10 laptop graphics chip.

There's no word as yet on official launch dates or UK pricing. But look out for something towards the end of this year or early in 2008 priced around the £175 mark.

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