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ATI's Radeon X1000 Series
By Vincent Chang
Category : Graphics
Published by Vijay Anand on Saturday, 29th October, 2005


ATI's Next Chapter

Early this month, the long wait and intense speculations were finally put to rest. ATI's next generation graphics cards, the Radeon X1000 series, officially debuted after much delay that had given its rival NVIDIA and its GeForce 7 series much time to consolidate its first mover advantage. The Radeon X1000 series brings some highly desired features like Shader Model 3.0 to the table, along with a strew of other enhancements like a unique ring bus memory architecture capable of using the upcoming GDDR4 memory modules and support for advanced High Dynamic Range (HDR) rendering.

The three stalwarts of the new Radeon X1000 family.

The Radeon X1000 cards are the first graphics processing units (GPU) to utilize a 90-nanometer semi-conductor process technology, giving it the ability to ramp up to unprecedented clock speeds. Codenamed the R520, the flagship model has been christened the Radeon X1800 XT as ATI sought to follow its naming scheme by adding another digit to the series. It is also the highest clocked GPU ever, with a core clock of 625MHz and memory frequency of 1500MHz DDR. A staggering 321 million transistors are found on the R520 core, equaling and surpassing many CPUs in terms of transistor count. And this is despite the fact that it has only 16 pixel pipelines, compared to the 24 found in its closest competitor from NVIDIA. For those who worry about the expected power consumption of such a powerful card, ATI has implemented dynamic voltage control to throttle power and hence, heat output when necessary. The other models in the X1000 series, the Radeon X1600 and X1300 cards are reduced derivatives of the R520 core with a smaller die size and less functional units.

So what are some of the new features that ATI has added for its latest generation such that it got 'bloated' in transistor count? Before moving on to the intricacies of the new architecture, we list the technical spec list table of the three new Radeon X1000 series graphics cards that we have evaluated to bring you this article:- the Radeon X1800 XT, Radeon X1600 XT and the Radeon X1300 PRO.

The Radeon X1800 XT, X1600 XT and X1300 PRO Compared
Model Radeon X1800 XT 512MB Radeon X1600 XT 256MB Radeon X1300 PRO 256MB
Core Code R520 RV530 RV515
Transistor Count 321 million 157 million 105 million
Manufacturing Process (microns) 0.09 0.09 0.09
Core Clock 625MHz 590MHz 600MHz
Vertex Shaders 8 5 2
Rendering (Pixel) Pipelines 16 12 4
Memory Clock 1500MHz DDR3 1380MHz DDR3 800MHz DDR3
DDR Memory Bus 256-bit 128-bit 128-bit
Memory Bandwidth 48.0GB/s 22.1GB/s 12.8GB/s
Ring Bus Memory Controller 512-bit (for memory reads only) 256-bit (for memory reads only) NIL
PCI Express Interface x16 x16 x16
Molex Power Connectors Yes NIL NIL
I/O Faceplate Connectors
  • 2 x DVI-I connectors
  • 1 x mini-DIN connector
  • 2 x DVI-I connectors
  • 1 x mini-DIN connector
  • 1 x analog VGA connector
  • 1 x DVI-I connector
  • 1 x mini-DIN connector
Other Information
  • CrossFire Editions Available
  • CrossFire Editions Available
  • AGP 8x supported through external bridge chip
  • CrossFire Ready
  • AGP 8x supported through external bridge chip
The whole family of Radeon X1000 cards is more comprehensive than the three mentioned. However, these are the models that we had access today and should represent the more popular ones that ATI is focusing.

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