In the wake of global economic recession, standing still is not the way out of the woods. Thus, AMD GPG is getting ready to launch 40nm refreshes of their Radeon 4600 and 4800. We haven’t received confirmation about names of the products, but the naming should be Radeon 4700 and Radeon 4900 series, with 5800 series reserved for the DirectX 11 part. Of course, AMD might be inclined to change the name and advance to 5000 series immediately, but we’ll see.
RV740 and RV790 should be considered as a trial run for TSMC’s 40nm process, currently “the most advanced manufacturing process” on Earth. Yes, it is plain bulk silicon, thus it is not High-K/SOI and this claim can be disputed. Then again, Intel always bangs the drum of numbers, and only numbers will count when the company regains the lead. When it’s following TSMC, then it is usually talk about materials such as brilliant implementation of Hafnium for High-K process.
40nm GPU will overthrow Intel and AMD as makers of most advanced chips on the market, with their respective CPUs being manufactured in 45nm. Intel will briefly recapture the crown with its 32-nm processors in Q1’2010, but Nvidia and ATI will launch 28nm chips in Q2’10. When ATI/AMD GPG moves to The Foundry Company, Nvidia will remain sole proprietor of TSMC’s most advanced lines and is set to continue GPU lead over CPU manufacturing.
Both parts are taking advantage of the fact that 40nm process gives tremendous power-saving and cost-saving (size of the die) and putting additional architectural improvements. According to Hardware-Infos, who managed to acquire sample cards through mysterious ways, RV740 should be considered as die-shrink of 55nm RV730, but the fact of the matter is that number of Shader processors doubled to 640 Processors (4600 features 320 SP). Memory controller remained at 128-bit, connecting to 512-1024MB GDDR5 memory clocked at 800-900 MHz (3.2-3.6 GT/s, “GHz”), resulting in memory bandwidth of 51.2-57.6 GB/s. Number of texture units is staying at 32, but the number of ROP units is now set at just eight, e.g. just eight pixels leave the GPU per clock.
RV790 features unknown number of Shader Processors, but given the fact that the company decided to keep the GPU clock on the same level as Radeon 4800 series (750 MHz), you could put a wager of 1200 or even more units. Currently, RV790 samples are floating around with 1GB GDDR5 memory from now-defunct Qimonda at 900-950 MHz in QDR mode (3.6-3.8 GT/s). Combining that memory with 256-bit memory controller will result in 115-122 GB/s of available bandwidth. A lot of rumors are flying around what the final specs are, but you can expect that AMD will keep the fixed-function AntiAliasing hardware that worked so greatly with Radeon 4800, offering true “free” 8xAA.
New line-up is expected to debut during Q1’2009, most probably on CeBIT – according to our sources in executive ranks, organizing a dedicated press event at troubled financial times is considered a waste of money. Still, PR department is fighting for their budgets, because at the end of the day, dedicated press event is believe it or not, the cheapest way of getting the message through, putting all execs together at one spot and achieving the maximum effect.
We’ll see, but one thing is for certain. ATI wants the crown back from Nvidia, and the company isn’t going to remain silent.
UPDATED February 1st, 2009, 00:24AM CET – According to a story on Planet 3DNow, AMD GPG decided to brand their 40nm chips as Radeon 5000 series. Apparently, the company changed its mind when it comes to marking their products. Originally, ATI’s products went up as they would implement newer versions of DirectX, but that is now changed and tied to manufacturing process and the architecture itself. I wish to thank Sysfried for this link.