Wednesday, March 28th 2007

Graphics card tidbits

TSMC's 55nm Process and other Graphics card tidbits

The Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) announced yesterday that they readied there 55nm process technology. While a shrink from 65nm to 55nm doesn't sound much it still brings significant cost savings to companies like ATI who order thousands of GPUs. Using a new process technology in general means you can get more chips out of the same silicon wafer - that alone makes the chips cheaper. The switch to 55nm is a so called 'direct shrink' which will not require a whole redesign of the chip architecture. TSMC says chips would run with 10 to 20% less power at the same speed which in turn could be read as a higher working frequency at the same power level.

The volume production will start later this year. With NVIDIA already sampling some prototypes in 55nm it is one of the usual suspects to be taking advantage of TSMC's new production technology.
Speaking of process technology: ATI has two design teams at the same time to layout RV630 and RV610 chips. One is working on the older 80nm chip revisions and another team is assigned to the do the 65nm parts. Fudzilla further adds the 80nm cards will end up in OEM computers like the one from Dell, Fujitsu Siemens and HP whereas the add in cards will be based around the 65nm chips.
Now we come to the high-end stuff. There is some kind of a rumor which says the G80 chip used in current NVIDIA 8800 GTX/GTS cards is equipped with 160 stream processors instead of 128 like NVIDIA uses to publish. This report is based on the findings of Professor Philipp Slusallek working in Germany on the Saarland University. His team is dedicated to 'SaarCOR', a hardware architecture which implements the ray-tracing algorithm on a single chip in order to get realistic images of 3D environments in realtime. He is quite experienced with computer graphics hardware and is insisting the G80 has more than 128 stream processors. The remaining ones may be enabled using a new driver in the future to compete with ATI's R600.
A propos the R600: Fuad again is stating the fastest GDDR3 based R600 cards will come with memory that is working at 1600MHz only. The GDDR4 powered boards will go as high as 2000MHz or even more. He still holds that the R600 is a 80nm chip and will be launched in May. Source: Fudzilla
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1 Comment on Graphics card tidbits

Bird of Prey
That would be a nice move by Nvidia is they use a driver to enable more stream processors. And this, coming from an ATI/AMD fan.
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