It might seem odd but weâ€™re actually bringing you a first look preview of ATIâ€™s mobile X1600 part before our review of its desktop counterpart. Itâ€™s not as if desktop X1600 cards donâ€™t exist â€“ they do and weâ€™ve got one and weâ€™ve got a full set of benchmark results from it. Itâ€™s just that as you canâ€™t buy it and weâ€™re not sure how much itâ€™s going to cost we thought weâ€™d hold on until we knew it was going to actually appear. However, weâ€™re fairly confident that as you read this, Asus will have a notebook available featuring the Mobility Radeon X1600 available to buy, at least on its global web site.
We briefly had a pre-production version of this notebook in our Labs, so weâ€™re bringing you a short taster of what you can expect from ATIâ€™s new mid-range graphics chip. The primary aim is to see how the chip performs compared to nVidiaâ€™s GeForce Go 6600, which weâ€™ve looked at in a couple of notebooks.
Before we talk about the notebook, a bit of background on the mobile chip itself. The Mobility X1600 is designed to replace ATIâ€™s X700 part in its â€˜Performance thinâ€™ category. This is one step away from all out top-of-the range mobile graphics performance chips and is designed to combine performance with power savings for increased mobility and battery life.
As with ATIâ€™s new desktop parts, the chip is built using TSMC 90nm micron process. This enables it to feature a hefty 157 million transistors, crammed into a small die size, which reduces cost. As with the desktop part, it sports 12 pixel pipelines, and five Vertex Pipes. The core clock is 470MHz, while the 128MB of memory also runs at 470MHz.
Thereâ€™s a lot of cutting edge technology employed in the making of the chip, such as copper interconnects, use of which lessens the electrical resistance of the tightly packed transistors, and low-k dielectric, to reduce leakage between them. A technology called Back bias is also employed to greatly reduce leakage by increasing the voltage necessary for switching transistors on and off. Using this technique delays transistor response time, which reduces potential clock speeds, so itâ€™s only used when maximum power saving is required. The marketing name for this is â€˜PowerPlayâ€™.
ATI has also implemented something called Dynamic Voltage Control, which can dynamically adjust voltage to deliver either performance or extended battery life, similar to Intelâ€™s SpeedStepâ€™ for CPUs. ATIâ€™s tech is called â€˜Power-on-Demandâ€™.
We didnâ€™t have time to see how the power saving features affect the battery life, but weâ€™ll do so when we get the final production notebook in from Asus.