ATI readies next-generation graphics chip
Tuesday February 25, 9:17 pm ET
LA QUINTA, Calif., Feb 25 (Reuters) – ATI Technologies Inc (Toronto:ATY.TO – News), locked in a battle with rival Nvidia Corp (NasdaqNM:NVDA – News) over bragging rights to the fastest graphic chip, plans to release its most-advanced PC chip yet within the next month or so, a company executive said on Tuesday.
Dave Rolston, ATI's vice president of engineering, said at a Goldman Sachs technology conference here that the company's R350 chip would be "coming out, say, within the next 30 days."
The R350 chip will be the high-end successor to ATI's Radeon 9700 chip. A new version of that chip geared toward the mainstream market is also coming in the next 30 days, he said.
That Radeon 9700 variant will be built using 130 nanometer technology, or .13 micron, which is a reference to the size of the feature sets on the chips. The .13 micron technology promises better speeds and lower costs than past standards, like .15 micron.
ATI's chief competitor, Nvidia Corp. (NasdaqNM:NVDA – News), is in the process of releasing its high-end chip, the GeForce FX, which is built by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (Taiwan:2330.TW – News) on the .13 micron process. TSMC will also build ATI's chip on that process.
Though the GeForce FX has surpassed the Radeon 9700 on some benchmarks, Rolston claimed that with R350, ATI would have the best-performing chip through at least the end of the calendar year. Such claims of higher performance are key for the graphics chip industry since the games and video applications that they drive require intense processing power.
While declining to discuss specific prices for the R350 or the new Radeon chip, the executive noted that pricing pressures were weighing on the industry.
"There's a lot of concern about pricing, there's a lot of attention to pricing," he said.
One of ATI's more notable partnerships is with video game company Nintendo Co Ltd (7974.OS) for its GameCube game console, and Rolston said ATI was looking at pursuing deals for future versions of both that console and Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox console, which uses Nvidia technology.
"We would consider both of those to be of great interest," he said, adding that they "have ongoing discussion with both of those players."
Nvidia recently settled a dispute with Microsoft over pricing of its chips for the Xbox, a settlement that boosted Nvidia's revenue, and Nvidia said the two sides planned to work together on future technology.
Neither Microsoft nor Nintendo have announced their next generation of consoles.