Top graphics roadmap - Fudzilla.com

Ok, I've only took data from dozen of news that appeared during last few days on Fudzilla.com and "compiled" them in one easier-to-read article. I hope you'll enjoy it more in this way ;)

EDIT (Jan 15th): I've decided to keep this one updated for next few weeks until situation gets clear finally :)
EDIT (Feb 9th): Cleaned up and rearranged a bit, hopefully it's easier to read now ;) You've got 5 sections now, I've added Crossfire as some mighty interesting news are popping up, so start reading :P
EDIT (Feb 12th): Section 6 added - ATi RV740 for mainstream coming in Q3. More below!
EDIT (March 24th): Closing the article with a few final words in each "unfinished" section, as I won't be updating this article anymore, as most of things are already done-and-out. Same is applied to nVidia's roadmap article over here. Once there is more news, I'll probably open new articles dedicated to RV7xx and GT200 cards, but won't go this wide in same article..


Recent news about new Crossfire drivers (Catalyst 8.x) and upcoming  CrossfireX drivers are getting interesting.
First off, we have an interview telling us about expected performance in CrossfireX. It's interesting, but not as much as next info that came in!
As of Catalyst 8.1, you can mix 38xx cards in different configurations, and it had been tested and confirmed! So far, it's been confirmed and benchmarked with a mix of 3870/3850 cards, which had different memory sizes, and clocks. And it seems that it works, since 2x3850 is slower than 3870/512MB+3850/256MB which is again slower than 3870/512MB+3850/1GB. Of course, 2x 3870/512MB is fastest combo, but in a few situations it looks like extra memory in 512+1GB configuration helps to beat it even though 3850/1GB has a bit less raw processing power. Interesting indeed! And with CrossfireX which supports more than 2 GPUs, you should be able to mix 3870X2 with these cards as well!
What else can we expect? I don't know, but this is first time that I got hooked up to multi-card scenario, as buying 3850 now can be a good thing, since later on you can even add 3870 X2 and still get extra performance from your "good old 3850". Only thing to see now, is - will we be able to mix cards that are even more different? I'm talking about both 36xx+38xx and 3xxx+R700 family.
Any way you turn it - cheers to AMD/ATi teams! They've done a huge thing!
Btw, just a side note, Tomshardware tested PCIe 1.x vs 2.0, and what kind of effect 4x/8x/16x slots have on current cards. And while in early days you couldn't spot any difference between these, and even AGP was pretty close, those numbers suggest that you should stick it to dual 16x slots if you intend to do Crossfire/SLI. PCIe 2.0 doesn't do much at the moment (~2% advantage), but we're talking about R700/GT200 coming soon, and the difference will increase with time. So if you're building new rig, get yourself a 2x 16x PCIe 2.0 motherboard like Intel's X38/X48, and AMD's or nVidia's higher end 700-series (beware here, they both sometimes mix 2.0 and 1.1, just as 16x/8x slots, and it all depends on versions used and how was certain motherboard made, so check MBO specifications before buying!)

EDIT (March 24th): New CrossFireX driver is out, so go and see the results, there are lots of them on the web :)

  • CrossFireX and DirectX 9 and 10 scaling - interview part 1 (UPDATE Feb 7th)
  • CrossfireX and future of High end - interview part 2 (UPDATE Feb 7th
  • You can mix 3870 and 3850 in Crossfire (UPDATE Feb 7th)
  • CrossfireX can mix 3870X2, 3870 and 3850 (UPDATE Feb 9th)
  • HD3870 and HD3850 mix tested in Crossfire (UPDATE Feb 9th)

    AMD (ATi) Radeon HD 3870 X2

    A Taiwanese forum has scored the first pictures of the Radeon HD 3870 X2 in the nude, as well as the first benchmark figure ever, although at first look 9,573 doesn't look that great in 3DMark 06. However, the test was not run at standard settings, but rather at 2,560x1,600 and the CPU was a Core 2 Duo E6600 at stock clocks with 2GB or RAM, so this is hardly a monster system. We've seen it and heard it from a few sources, but it looks like two R680s, Radeon 3870 X2 will score just over 20,000 in 3Dmark06. It is quite good scaling and it looks like a great score for a non-overclocked system. It will be interesting to see it performing in all games, but that is another matter altogether. The cards are scheduled for introduction at the end of January, but the final driver for four chips will be later in Q1. It looks like the real deal and the drivers are reporting PCI Express 2.0 x8, which should be correct for each of the GPUs, as they're sharing a x16 slot. The card has 1GB of GDDR4 memory, but there was no screen shot of any clock speeds. However, the author of the post claims the GPU's are clocked at 770MHz with the memory at 2,250MHz. We said this back in 2007, but let us be clear on one thing. Nvidia’s upcoming high-end sandwich board, Geforce 9800 GX2, is going to end up faster than a single Radeon 3870 GX2. This comes as no surprise, as Nvidia’s single G92 is faster than a single RV670, and in the same matter a dual chip Nvidia beats ATI. Radeon 3870 X2 will be very competitive, as its single chip brother is still a bit slower compared to Nvidia. We still believe that Radeon 3870 X2 will have quite good sales, as it will be significantly cooler than Nvidia’s card and it will be available in massive numbers.
    EDIT (Jan 17th): We have confirmed that R680 dual chip RV670 will launch on 23rd of January, together with Radeon 3670 / 3650 and 3450 cards.
    EDIT (Jan 23rd): ATI fixed the price of R680 dual chip card to just above €400 and retailers should be selling them for €410 while etailers should offer them for up to €430.
    Since Jan 23rd is here, we have seen launch of 3870 X2, 3670, 3650, 3470, 3450; we have already come to know 3870/3850 cards; and we have few rumors about variations on some of those cards (3690), but pretty much it's all out now. Next step is R700/RV770...
    EDIT (Jan 30th): Well, I'm here again, just wanted to add few links (see below) about few new water-cooled 3870 X2 which look REAL nice (especially CoolIT's water block :) ), info about new DDR4 versions of 3800 X2 coming soon as well, and finally PowerColor's new X2 card which has 4xDVI and on a smaller card, with smaller and lighter (non-reference) cooler, and increased clocks even! So enjoy, links are below with todays date, like I've said :)
    EDIT (Feb 7th): Just added link to story about Vmod of X3870 X2, a link to pictures of Sapphire watercooled card, link to note about cards being on sale for as low as 360€. All links below, with Feb 7th date..

    EDIT (March 24th): My last update here. Just wanted to point to the rumors that updated 3870 cards should be close, both for single and dual (X2) configurations, as some new tweaked chips are prepared. This is similar to nVidia re-releasing 8800 GT/GTS as 9800 GT/GTX with a bit tweaked chip, but it is believed that AMD (ATi) won't change names (again) like nVidia did, as they've done it already when jumping from HD2xxx to current HD3xxx series. These new cards will be based on new A12 revision of RV670 chip. And there are few more tweaks that will apply to X2 cards, as new PCI-e 2.0 bridge chip and probably faster GDDR4 memory. If only they could fix AA/AF problems in these chips..

    nVidia Geforce 9800 GX2

    A few independent sources have confirmed that D9E, Nvidia's sandwich board, will officially launch as Geforce 9800 GX2. The add-in board's partners got the final okay on the name, so they can now proceed on designing their own boxes and printing.There is no way back from here. A few sources also independently confirmed that the board should launch by mid-February time. Geforce 9800 GX2 will have a massive cooler in-between two PCBs. The cooler itself will have a two copper parts that will fit on the GPUs and it will be placed in the middle. The board needs two power connectors, one 3x2 and one 4x2, and it will need about 200 Watts. It will run very hot, but we are sure it will be stable. In the end the performance matters, and this will be fastest thing around.
    EDIT (Jan 17th): Geforce 9800 GX2 dual G92 dual chip sandwich design will end up as expensive as 8800 Ultra, if not even more. The price is not final, but it looks like an expensive piece of marchitecture. You are talking about two 8800 GTS boards glued together, along with an expensive cooler, and of course, Nvidia wants to get some profits out of it. You should be looking at $600 and probably even more for such a card. (I have to agree here, if only by taking current 8800GTS price of roughly 350$, few trims here and there, and you can't go below 600$...)
    EDIT (Jan 28th): According to some photos that popped up on Chiphell, it looks like 9800 GX2 and 8800 GTS 512MB are siblings, but there will be some differences as well, as GTS apparently uses G92-400-A2 chip, while GX2 has G92-450-A2's onboard (see link below for pictures). Differences in chips are yet unknown.
    EDIT (Jan 30th): A few sources have indicated that Geforce 9800 GX2 dual G92 board, codenamed G9E, has been delayed until after the 21st of February. (Note that 9600 cards will be postponed till the same date! Links below, as usual)
    EDIT (Feb 7th): Some of Nvidia partners have said that they will be ready to showcase Nvidia's Geforce 9800 cards at Cebit. So, the launch will be either at Cebit or shortly before Cebit. Cebit starts on March 4th.
    We've got our hands on a very interesting piece of information about the upcoming GeForce 9800GX2 card and it looks this these cards will run hot enough to prove to be dangerous if you touch them while in use.
    Each of the PCB's seem to feature 1GB of memory on this specific card. Now we can't be 100 percent sure that this is the case, as it could simply correlate to the total ammount of memory on the card, but comparing other manuals from the same manufacturer seems to imply that this card might very well come with 2GB of graphics memory.
    EDIT (Feb 18th): The GPUs will be clocked at 600MHz, that's 50MHz slower than the 8800 GTS, or the same as the 8800 GT. The Shaders will apparently be clocked at 1,500MHz, again slower than the 8800 GTS which has its Shaders clocked to 1,625MHz.
    The memory clock is somewhat higher at 1GHz or 2GHz effectivley for the GDDR3 chips, but this is a mere 60MHz faster than a stock clocked 8800 GTS and is unlikely to make a huge difference
    (Btw, rumors are that launch is postponed - again; probably until end of March)

    EDIT (March 24th): This card is out, so go googling for the reviews.. There are even few early quad-SLI articles.. I'll just confirm that above rumors were right, except clocks were tweaked a bit, not much, but they were.. and partners will OC the cards after all. Good work nVidia, for having this hot card overclockable enough so that partners can do it and sell it as a factory OCed cards :)

    nVidia GT200 (ex G100) chip and cards

    D8E is Geforce 9800GX2, and that is already a done deal, but after that comes a new high-end card. We know that this product is expected in the middle of this year and that Nvidia is working on it. Is it G100? The new codename is GT200. We've learned that the next generation Nvidia is going to have more than a billion transistors. 45nm simply won’t be possible this year, and as far as we know GT200 will be 55nm or, in worst case, 65nm. We have received mixed information on this particular matter. Nvidia already has plans to transition to 55nm in 2008, as this half node means smaller and cooler chips. We are probably talking about second half of 2008, but Nvidia is already talking to TSMC about going to this process. It will be an interesting chip to compete with and it is scheduled for the second half of the year. It will definitely be significantly bigger than R700, but only when you understand that R700 is two, rather than one, chip. In this early stage, we've learned that even in the next generation Nvidia doesn’t plan to support DirectX 10.1 API. Nvidia wants to continue its DirectX 10 path, and there's a good chance that it will simply migrate to DirectX 11 before it supports DirectX 10.1. As Nvidia has a dominant position in game development and in the publishing community it doesn’t look that DirectX 10.1 has a lot of chances in 2008, but ATI will certainly push a title or a few that will have full support for DirectX 10.1.
    UPDATE (Feb 1st): We've learned that Nvidia's real next generation chip, codenamed GT200, is a 65nm chip. It sounds like it will be rather hot, as last time we reported about it we learned that it will have more than a billion transistors. We also know that the GT200 is going to be hotter than the 9800GX2 dual chip card with two G92’s inside and that is quite a challenge.
    UPDATE (Feb 7th): Such a card will have a thermal design power of 250W, which is even more than the R600. The thermal design power (TDP) number is usually the worst possible scenario and we know that the R600 had a dual slot cooler and Nvidia doesn’t have any choice but to do the same. GT200’s TDP is 250W it will need two power connectors, but this is nothing unusual as we’ve seen this with R600, R680 and Geforce 9800 GX2 dual chip will have the same.

    UPDATE (March 24th): Not much news here, even though a lot of time had passed.. Probably just because everyone talk about new 9800 GT/GTX/GX2 cards - so don't worry, new things will come by inevitably :) Once there are more news, you can even expect a new roadmap-article; but I'll try to keep it bounded to GT200 only :D

    AMD (ATi) R700/RV770 cards/chips

    ATI's next generation high-end R700 will be made of two RV770 chips. It will be the successor of the R680 (note: 2x RV670) concept and we are looking at two chips on the same card. This product should come in Q2, probably later than sooner. RV770 is naturally the DirectX 10.1 successor of the very successful RV670, the chip that gave Nvidia so many headaches, and RV770 looks like an even bigger trouble maker.
    UPDATE (Jan 15th): RV770 is taped out and it looks very promising. This chip will be used for mainstream, performance and high end products and we can tell you that it should end up significantly faster than RV670. From what we have learned, it should be more than fifty percent faster, although we heard even higher numbers. It is made at 55 nanometre. This baby is scheduled for late Q2 if not early Q3.
    UPDATE (Feb 7th): It looks as if ATI might be the first company to embrace DDR5 memory. GDDR5 obviously offers better memory bandwidth, and traditionally new memory is faster and cooler than the previous generation.
    We've learned that ATI's next generation performance chip codenamed RV770 performs much better than its RV670 predecessor. Our sources used the words „significantly faster than RV670“ and other independent sources have said that chip will be more than fifty percent faster than the existing generation.
    RV770 is a 55 nanometre chip and if all goes superb it will launch around Computex time (early June) but the final silicon are out and they work well. It still has to take a few months from the first silicon to the final production chip but it’s good to know that the chip looks good now.
    UPDATE (Feb 12th): ATI's new flagship performance and high-end chips will have the ability to use GDDR5 memory. GDDR5 promises some crazy frequencies all the way up to 2.5GHz / 5GHz effectively, which is more than two times faster with what you can achieve today with GDDR4.

    UPDATE (March 24th): Not much here either, except ATi marketing slides claiming 2x performance over RV670 for a single RV770 card, though probably only at top resolutions and with AA/AF (which is bugged in current cards anyway). And that's it - so far. But there will be much more news once this wave of nVidia/ATi refresh cards is past us, everyone is just too busy writing about cards that had just came out or will be out in a week or two, so be patient ;)

    AMD (ATi) RV740 mainstream cards/chips

    RV740 is ATI's new mainstream card, and from what we know, it is scheduled for the second half of 2008. The new card is planned as ATI's ultimate mainstream, and this is what ATI needs to compete with the soon-to-be-launched G94 based 9600GT.
    The new RV740 also brings a 256-bit memory interface and it is a 55 nanometer-based chip made my TSMC. The 256-bit memory will move this mainstream card to the next level and will certainly mean that you will be able to set higher settings such as FSAA and Aniso.
    We also know that it will be drastically faster than RV630 and RV635, but we wouldn’t expect anything less than that. Currently it looks like Nvidia will have a massive lead with its 9600GT, as the card is supposed to launch withing the next 10 days, while ATI's chip is scheduled for second half of 2008, probably in the summertime.

    EDIT (March 24th): I haven't had time to update this before, but there aren't much news anyway. You can just add few more codenames to low-mid ranges, starting from lowest RV710, through RV730, to already known RV740. You can click here to read the article.

    Links (by date of publishing, all but one by Fudzilla):

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