ATI launches RD580, chats to bit-tech

Written by Wil Harris

March 1, 2006 | 14:01

Tags: #asic #design #interview #john-bruno #rd580 #reuven-soraya

Companies: #asus #ati

ATI has launched its RD580 chipset today, and it has been talking to us about its opinions and thoughts on the platform.

For reference, our review of the ASUS board using this chipset is here.

We talked to some of the minds behind the platform. John Bruno, who we last talked to back in August, is charge of the ASIC and electrical design on the boards. What was the hardest part of the design for RD580?

"It's obviously been the overclocking stuff. Interfaces are designed to run at their specified speed, but we've managed to get them to run well above specification." One of the features of the board we've seen has been the ability to run the HyperTransport bus incredibly fast. How was that possible? "If you really want to get the most out of the interface, you need to reduce the clock jitter. This is critically important on the HyperTransport bus. You need to have a really clean source. Due to the nature of HyperTransport, which operates at different clock speeds, the clean source becomes more important."

Of course, with such massive overclocking options, isn't there a danger that users might kill their board, getting over ambitious?

"There's no way for us to guarantee that vendors will not overvolt the boards. We don't expect to see damage from overclocking, but if the board was to overheat there are protection mechanisms on the board. We have no expectations for boards failing as a result of overclocking alone."

How come there's no need to use a switch card now for dual or single card operation? "We're not switching lanes between slots with RD580, making the switch card irrelevant. With RD480, there were two x8 lanes that needed to be routed back to the one slot when using the board in single card mode. Here, there's two x16 lanes."

Reuven Soraya, who is in charge of ATI's mainboard products told us that "RD580 is a defining milestone for the enthusiast market, as it is the only chipset that supports a true dual PCI-Express x16 interface with the fastest interconnect between the two graphics cards (Xpress Route)." Is this going to have an influence over the rest of ATI's business?

"Yes, we do feel that it will create a halo and that it's a defining moment for our chipset business."

Does the future hold anything interesting - perhaps RD580 with an integrated graphics chipset?

"The next generation of IGP product will take gaming performance a step further, and it'll also take connectivity and video playback a step further too. There will be AVIVO and more included. The next IGP product will also help to improve battery life in notebooks too. I can't really comment on unannounced products, but I will say that our next generation chipset will address the whole video pipeline."

Sounds pretty good. Check out our review of the ASUS board, then let us know your thoughts on ATI's comments over in the forum.
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