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Summer will bring a GPU war
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Sat May 03, 2008 7:26 pm Reply and quote this post
THIS SUMMER WE are going to see an large scale GPU war,something we haven't really seen for a few years now. Nvidia may have all theheadlines today , but ATI has been plotting and rebuilding for the 7xx serieslaunch.
Last year, the mere suggestion of ATI doing well was laughed at, but the firmtook the outright lead with the X2 cards and forced NV into the reactionary GX2.ATI can do three and four-way adequately, albeit with the the Broken OS, whileNV can only do it in name. Same with the bucket called 'hybrid' for both powerand frame rate.
ATI has been plotting a comeback, and the R770/R700 parts should take theoutright lead once again. The trick to the cards is what we told you almost twoyears ago,nomore big GPUs.
You saw a little of that with the 3870X2, but the bridge was a simple PCIeswitch. The real magic this time is a bridge that shares memory, GDDR5 in thiscase. Yup, you will have 2 GPUs with one set of memory.
This simplifies designs, lowers chip cost, and speeds time to market. You gettwo full variants for the design cost of 1.25, and you are on the happy end ofthe cost/area curve for fabbing silicon. While the early word on GT200 is thatit is again 500mm^2+, ATI will have 2x chips that are much smaller, whichtranslates into a huge cost advantage.
The other nice thing is that the bridge should keep the GPUs hidden from thesystem. This has a disadvantage of hard-wiring in the Crossfire modes leaving alittle performance on the table, but when you have two of them in the system, itlooks like two GPUs, not four. One look at the 1 -> 2 -> 4 scaling rateswill show what a win that is.
What it comes down to in the end is that ATI looks to have built up atechnological lead that NV is reacting to. It is the same thing that happenedabout the time when NV first released SLI, it had all the answers and ATI hadto catch up. Now the tables are turned.
Another interesting change is on the PR side. NV has been mouthing off toanyone who won't run away fast enough while ATI has been silent. Some minorreshuffling at the ATI PR camp says that they are prepping for an outright hotwar. As you know, it is always the silent ones that are the most trouble.
This summer we will see both trends come to a head, a new resurgent ATItechnological lineup with a PR team willing to beat heads to get the job done.NV will be playing catchup with a long list of paper technologies and a few realones.
The shouting should be pretty intense, and with Intel flipping sides, thingswill be all the more interesting.

Contributed by Editorial Team, Executive Management Team
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