Product: ATi HD4850
Company: AMD
Authour: Alex 'Morgoth Bauglir' Voicu
Editor: Charles 'Lupine' Oliver, Eric 'Ichneumon' Amidon
Date: June 24th, 2008
ATi RV770 - Architecture Overview

"Oh man..."

Was probably a frequently heard opener whenever two ATi engineers met and started talking about the R600 vs. G80 battle. The R600 wasn't an incredibly bad chip (there have been quite a few of those in GPU history) but, for the amount of effort poured into it, the time it took to get it to the market along with its complete disregard for size, heat and power-draw (which might have been ok for a king-of-the-hill GPU) it was underwhelming. Not competitive with the 8800GTX, hampered by being seemingly overdesigned on some aspects (the 512-bit bus sticks out like a sore thumb) and underequipped on others, it was ultimately a failure - not due to some hidden mysterious bugs, but mostly due to bringing knives to a number of gunfights that no modern GPU should risk losing.

If you're wondering what's up with the history lesson, that's easy to explain: in order to gain perspective on today's hero and understand it wholly, one must grasp just what its predecessor, the R600, was. But what's with this hero we're talking about ...  time to meet him in all of his silicony glory.

The RV770

You'll have to excuse the nudity ... chips tend to be show-offs prior to being bound to a PCB, and engineers tend to be proud when they have a great chip to photograph. What is there to be proud about you ask? Quite a lot in fact.

The RV770 is, to a certain extent, a consequence of the R600's lackluster history. The RV770 was designed from the get-go to be a very efficient chip, and to solve all of the problems associated with the R600 architecture, with virtually every ATi design team involved in the new architecture.

As an opener to our launch day coverage, we'll be taking a plunge into the RV770 and seeing what what is new, what has changed, what stays the same (quickie note: not much) and how it all fits together. We'll be following pretty much the same structure that Scott Hartog, chief architect for the RV770 series, used in his presentation of the architecture, as it nicely flows from one aspect of the new chip to another, using Richard Huddy's R600 architecture overview for comparisons and underlining the differences between chips. We'll also check and see if we can actually achieve the theoretical numbers using a number of synthetic tests ... don't worry, the whole gaming enchilada will soon follow, we haven't lost our focus.

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