ATI launches world’s first 40nm GPU
AMD has today launched the world’s smallest mainstream processing chips in a dramatic move that shaves 15nm from the size of current-generation mobile and desktop GPUs.
The move to 40nm marks a drastic shift in a graphics market where every current-generation chip uses either a 65nm or 55nm die.
The two new parts – the ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4860 and HD 4830 – both have 640 stream processors, but that’s where the similarities end.
The lightweight HD 4830 will have a core clock speed of either 450MHz or 600MHz, with GDDR3 or DDR3 memory clocked at between 800 and 900MHz.
The HD 4860 should be able to shift more pixels thanks to a core clock of 650MHz, and GDDR5 RAM – the same memory that’s on the high-end HD 4870 desktop parts – that can be clocked up to a maximum speed of 4GBytes/sec.
Despite the impressive specifications, the reduction in size should see the new chips consume less power and generate less heat than their 55nm predecessors.
Both parts support DirectX 10.1, DisplayPort with audio and HDMI with 7.1 surround sound. Both are also ready for CrossfireX and can be used as part of a switchable graphics system, which has already seen some success for Nvidia in the Sony VAIO VGN-Z21MN/B, which combined an integrated Intel chip with a more powerful GeForce 9300M GS discrete GPU.
ATI refused to comment when asked if the 40nm process will move from mobile chips into its already successful current generation of desktop parts, all of which are manufactured on a 55nm die.
Nvidia also reacted cagily to ATI’s renewed interest in mobile graphics. When asked if it will be releasing any new products to combat the ground-breaking Mobility Radeon chips, Bea Longworth, Nvidia’s corporate communications manager said that the company doesn’t “comment on unannounced products”.
Nvidia has made a song-and-dance of its mobile superiority after unveiling a range of 55nm-based mobile chips and recently introducing the GeForce GTX 260M and 280M.
ATI’s latest release could come as another blow to its under-pressure rival, however, after a rocky few months spent fending off accusations of faulty chips, reports of revenues dropping by 60%, and an increasingly fraught relationship with Intel.
A widespread move to the new 40nm die would undoubtedly make for quicker, cooler cards, although such a change may be held back until ATI and Nvidia release their next major desktop revisions. ATI’s R800 and Nvidia’s GT216 are both slated for release in the second half of 2009, according to the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, the firm that will be producing the 40nm parts.