The real world benefits of PCI Express may still be the subject of much speculation and disagreement among industry pundits, but that hasn’t seemed to discourage Canadian graphics manufacturer ATi who yesterday (June 1st 04) announced that it would be delivering to market the world’s first PCI Express based mobile graphics chip, the MRX600.
With worldwide shipments of mobile parts growing at a healthy 17% per annum and expected to hit 90million by 2007, it’s perhaps not surprising that so much marketing effort and money is now being channelled into developing this increasingly prominent market.
Formerly codenamed M24, the MRX600 is ATi’s latest and greatest mobile VPU and features a raft of new technologies and levels of processing power that ATi claim will offer performance levels once reserved only for desktop parts. At this stage we will have to take ATi’s word for this, as we don’t have any real cards to test with yet.
Despite the on-chip enhancements, the headline feature is undoubtedly the use of the new PCI Express (PCIE) interface. Offering twice the bandwidth of the current AGP 8X standard, PCIE also brings with it much more flexible frequency and bus width scalability.
All this bandwidth is great provided it’s kept busy, and on this score the MRX600 should do very well. Featuring four pixel pipelines and two vertex pipelines along with an efficient 128bit memory interface, the MRX600 has all the credentials needed for some serious levels of performance, but when you’re talking mobile parts there’s always a caveat; power consumption.
Created using a 0.13micron low-K process the MRX600 already has the basics for a low power part. The low-K process increases the levels of electrical resistance between individual core traces and components, meaning that less power bleeds away. This in return means less power is required to run the core and a fortunate side effect is that less heat is produced.