Today ATI is announcing a pair of new Radeon cards that use HyperMemory, an intelligent memory management system for value graphics. HyperMemory takes advantage of PCI Express' plentiful bi-directional bandwidth to allow graphics cards to address both local and system memory. Think of it as ATI's version of NVIDIA's TurboCache. Cards will be equipped with a small amount of fast local memory, but they will also be capable of reading from and writing to system memory, ideally offering a balance between performance and cost. HyperMemory will be targeted primarily targeted at the budget end of the graphics card market, where even its smaller amount of local graphics memory can offer a significant performance advantage over integrated graphics.
ATI is announcing two HyperMemory products, the Radeon X300 SE 128MB HyperMemory, and the Radeon X300 SE 256MB HyperMemory. Both are native PCI Express parts and use the same RV370 SE GPU as other Radeon X300 SE cards. Both cards have a 325MHz core clock, a 300MHz memory clock, and a 64-bit local memory bus. They differ in the amount of memory they have on-board. The "128MB" HyperMemory card comes equipped with 32MB of local memory, while the "256MB" card gets 128MB.
With a $59 suggested retail price and a projected sub-$50 street price, the Radeon X300 SE 128MB HyperMemory is perhaps the most promising HyperMemory card. If its price hits $50, the Radeon X300 SE 128MB HyperMemory card could look pretty good against the TurboCache competition. Comparable TurboCache cards with 32MB of local memory cost a little more than $60. ATI also says that its 32/128MB HyperMemory card outperforms a 32/128MB TurboCache, a claim we'll put to the test as soon as we can get our hands on some HyperMemory cards.
HyperMemory cards will initially be available through major OEMs, so don't expect to see bare cards for sale immediately. With HyperMemory-free Radeon X300 SE 128MB cards currently available online for under $60, losing 96MB of local graphics memory may not be worth the $10 savings, anyway. We'll have to see how performance and street prices shape up to know for sure.
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