AMD R600 technology, yet again
- T'n'T - 2
Author: Hrvoje Jakovac
Date: 04 May 2007
Let's talk about multimedia capabilities of these new cards for a while. R(V)6xx has UVD (Universal Video Decoder) and AVP (Advanced Video Processor) on silicon. If we go back to ATI AVIVO technology, no one can really say that AVIVO wasn't a a nice addon to previous card generations. Being a platform that enhances video quality it became widely popular because it really kicked ass. Hardware acceleration of H.264 became a basis for Blu-Ray and HD-DVD playback even on a bit "older" machines with X1xxx card series and, for example, those cards some of us are still crying for - All in Wonder (X1900) and 2006 PCI Express.
On top of that, we have the built-in sound chip. And we're not talking about some lame stereo chip, but a full AC3 5.1 surround chip so you can have sound through HDMI. We really like this feature and respect it, but at the same time we expect that only the mainstream/low-end parts will have some sales benefit because of this. If we're talking about HD content and watching HD content on big HD-compatible displays (for example - HD-compatible plasma screens) we just don't see the point of buying a high-end card, putting it inside a computer and watch movies on plasma screen with a pretty loud computer that consumes an awful lot of space. This just might be the reason why NVIDIA decided to allocate additional resources for HD in their 8600 and 8500 cards. We think that the way to go with that is to have a small barebone/desktop-alike ultra-quiet-to-silent PC on the shelf, with HD-DVD and Blu-Ray drive inside (combo drives, please!) and - off you go. It seems reasonable to assume that Radeon HD 2600 cards will become pretty popular in these multimedia-type PC's and drive some serious sales. With competitive pricing AMD has been talking about, we see some serious things happening on that part of the market. If you want to know more about this, be sure to check out our article about HD content tomorrow.
Let's go back to advanced stuff - for example, stream computing. If you remember AMD/ATI's Stream Processor (on the picture to the right), then you probably remember what's CTM (Close To Metal). This is a re-packaged X1900 card (R580 core) with 1GB of GDDR3 memory and its price was $2,599 at launch time (November 2006). New chips also support CTM, which is actually a way to use huge floating point resources of GPU's to process very complex models and simulations. For example, we see quite a few applications that could (ab)use GPU's tremendeous computation power - CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics), CAD (Computer Aided Design), chemical and medical industry (MRI, CT, ...) etc. If this means that we're yet to expect a new Stream Processor as a separate product, we're yet to see. But both floating point and integer operation support on these 320 stream processors as well as the IEEE 754 support certainly raises a few eyebrows.