ATI's integrated graphics to skip SM 3.0?

With help from its usual motherboard maker moles, HKEPC has shared a few tidbits about ATI's upcoming integrated graphics chipsets. Word has it the RS600, ATI's IGP chipset scheduled for release next month, will be based on the Radeon X700 graphics processor. There's no word on clock speeds, but performance is expected to be double that of ATI's current RS480 IGP chipset. On top of that, HKEPC's sources say the RS600 will also include support for High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) and ATI's Avivo video acceleration technology.

NVIDIA's GeForce 6100 and 6150 IGP chipsets support DirectX Shader Model 3.0, and Intel's G965 Express is expected to do the same. ATI's RS600, however, will support only Shader Model 2.0. HKEPC claims ATI is planning to skip the Shader Model 3.0 generation altogether with its onboard graphics and move on to Shader Model 4.0 and DirectX 10 in its future RS700 chipset. Little is known about the RS700, but it will reportedly show up in mid-2007 and support hardware acceleration for both Blu-ray and HD-DVD media.

If this report is correct, ATI's decision not to support Shader Model 3.0 in the RS600 will probably have little import in the world of integrated graphics solutions. SM 3.0 can boost performance and image quality slightly with longer shader programs, but it's unlikely to be a handicap in this class of devices with very modest overall performance.

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