ATI to change design paradigm with future GPUs?
Many are eagerly anticipating ATI's upcoming R600 graphics processor, but what does the company have in store next? Beyond R600 derivatives, The Inquirer says ATI's next-next-gen R700 graphics processor will adopt a fundamentally different design paradigm. Instead of a single monolithic GPU, the R700 will supposedly be made up of a number of smaller GPUs working in unison:
Basically, if you look at the architecture of any modern GPU, R5xx/6xx or G80, it comprises pretty modular units connected by a big interconnect. Imagine if the interconnect was more distributed like say an Opteron and [HyperTransport], you could have four small chips instead of one big one.
This would have massive advantages on design time, you need to make a chip of quarter the size or less, and just place many of them on the PCB. If you want a low-end board, use one, mid-range use four, pimped out edition, 16. You get the idea, Lego.
Such a design would be cheaper to manufacture, since a smaller die area per chip could reduce the likelihood of defects. In fact, Intel already uses a similar dual-chip technique in its first quad-core processors
. This more modular design approach could also conceivably help ATI release slower derivatives of its high-end products sooner, should it use the same chips across multiple product lines.