Graphics - On Desktops and Consoles

Graphics - On Desktops and Consoles Graphics - On Desktops and Consoles

Just as nVidia is soon expected to lower prices of its 7800GTX to about USD 499, ATIs troubled R520 seems to be approaching launch, while the R500 and RSX are also getting ready for the new battlefield; console graphics.

Within a few weeks of its launch, nVidia's 7800GTX will have dropped its price by USD 150, from 649 to 499. This trend is expected to continue until the 7800GT surfaces around early fall. The new board, expected to retail for about USD 399, is expected to be very similar to its bigger brother, with the same specs but with a clock speed of 335 MHz and 1100 MHz for core and memory respectively.

While all this is happening at nVidia HQ, ATI is busy getting two chips ready; the R520 and R500 for the XBox. A variety of delays in the ATI R520 production process, mainly efficiency related, have set the Canadian company back and have given rivals, nVidia, an almost 3 month lead.

The R520 is now officially taped out according to ATI and is performing well, with the core expected to clock well over 600 MHz. Quite a few gamers and industry experts are looking towards this card as the performance King but ATI can't claim that throne until early fall when the card is expected to ship. Another issue surrounding the new board has to do with its cost which may have skyrocketed due to the various delays. If ATI have managed to keep development costs within a reasonable limit gamers may even get to eventually own an R520, once it's released. By the time it is released however, nVidia will also have the Ultra version of the G70 core ready, making the competition all that much more interesting.

Console Graphics

All this talk of desktops has left console fans wondering about the future of their favorite pastime. Since we now believe that MS has started shipping XBox 360 beta SDKs, it is assumed that the main change is the inclusion of a working R500 board. ATI was only involved at the engineering and design stages of the R500s life since it is expected that Microsoft will use the popular choice for graphics manufacture, TSMC. Considering that x360 is still heading for an October/November release, it is unlikely that ATI is still working on the design of the R500 and we suspect that production may have already started.

nVidia, on the other hand, has more time to play with its plans as PS3 is unlikely to release before spring 2006. This however, can become confusing as the graphics manufacturer thought it had more time on its hands since the initial PS3 timetable mentioned a holiday 2006 release. Since then MS x360 plans have caused Sony some upheaval and have resulted in an expected spring 2006 date which may even be pushed further forward if Sony can do it. With that in mind, yesterday's news of the PS3 router becoming history may make some sense. Back to nVidia's RSX for PS3 which, it is claimed will carry 300 million transistors, more than what the R500 is expected to have but less than what the R520 will feature.

RSX will be designed based on the 90 nm process and will pack a decent punch with its core clocked at 550 MHz. Sony is expected to take care of the manufacturing although it is unlikely that RSX production is as advanced as R500s is. nVidia will definitely be under pressure to produce the part as soon as possible since Sony will want to surprise its US console rival with a sooner than you think launch date. May God have mercy on our thumbs.