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Desktop Graphics Ambitions: ATi Mobile Radeon 9800

The MR 9800's Details Spell The End Of The AGP Line

The Mobility Radeon 9800 will be the Canadians' latest notebook graphics chip controlled by the AGP interface.

Its name might lead one to suspect that the graphics core of the MR9800 is a derivative of the Radeon 9800 (R350) or Radeon 9800XT (R360) desktop chip, both of which have eight pixel pipelines and four vertex shaders. However, that is not the case here. The basis for the MR9800 is the graphics core of the X800 , i.e. the first graphics chip from ATi with PCI express interface. Why isn't the chip called Mobility Radeon X800, then? Well, ATi decided that only products with the PCI Express Interface may have an "X" in the model name, and the MR9800 is only a graphics processor with an AGP interface.

The graphics core of the X800....

...and the "slightly" modified graphics core of the MR9800

As can be seen in the block diagrams of the two graphics cores, the MR9800 has a total of eight pixel pipes and four vertex shaders and - a novelty for a mobile graphics chip - a 256 bit memory interface . The memory interface supports DDR2 and GDDR3 memories. The notebooks available on the market are "only" equipped with DDR2 memory. Like the X800 and the MR9700 , the chip is manufactured with a 130 nm, low-K process.

A reminder: This manufacturing process makes it possible to produce graphics processors that have a low power consumption and higher speeds. The advantages of this production technology are obvious, particularly for chips that are used in mobile devices. The lower power consumption helps to save electricity and thus extend battery life. What's more, the high core speed narrows the performance gap between desktop and mobile PCs. But another thing is clear too: Even the notebooks of the future will not be able to benefit from both advantages at once. You will either decide to have more power and thus higher graphics performance, or give priority to a longer battery life.