ATI's HD 49x0 coming soon

By Koushik Saha on 14.12.08

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WITH NVIDIA'S GTX 295 announcement just around the corner, the satanic rumourmill - as Nick fondly puts it - is in overdrive once again, fuelled by leaked specs and a vivid imagination, it seems.

What are we talking about? Well, several Chinese forums were a-buzz today with talk of a RV775XT and RV775Pro, alleged derivatives of the current RV770 marchitecture with some odd bits and pieces of additional tech - smaller dies on the same process without a re-design, for example. This included a return to GDDR4, die sizes mysteriously shrinking on a 55nm process, and some extra stream processors and TMUs.

The most interesting part of the posts was the one about DAAMIT having refined the fabbing process resulting in better yields that would allow it to put out parts with lower redundancy, that is, less silicon set aside for the eventuality of a manufacturing defect. This would mean some serious cherry-picking taking place and a limited supply of cards, at best, not to mention the economics of the thing...

We rang up ATI's Chris Hook about this and he clarified several points about those specifications. The general consensus is that someone compiled fragments of possible products and put them in a nice looking table. While, in good PR fashion, not admitting or denyinganything we threw at him, he did help us figure out what's wrong with the info.

ATI won't be launching anything in January, that's more or less guaranteed. A refresh to the current range of cards will be launched over the course of 1H-09, but not as early as January (CeBIT sounds like as good a time as any). That will include a delayed RV740 derivative and a suped-up RV770, which should receive the HD 49xx moniker. GDDR3 and GDDR5 will remain the memory bits and pieces, but ATI has dropped GDDR4 for good... too expensive and too much like GDDR5, said the Cap'n. Now the juicy bit is that AMD has narrowed down the 40nm parts launch to the first half of 2009 too, so between the derivatives and the shrinks there will be plenty of options on the market in 2009.

Last, but certainly not least, the 58xx series cards will be reserved for Q4 2009 and will pair up with Microsoft's DirectX 11 launch. So fanbois and fangoils, you'll have to wait a while.

There was more but we were sworn to secrecy, under penalty of death by Sasquatch buggery. We'll keep it to ourselves.

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