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[nordicHW] HD4870X2 sports next generation PCIe bridge

post #1 of 9
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Radeon HD 4870X2, also known as R700, is the only outspoken high-end card of the Radeon 4000 family. It's not impossible we will see Radeon HD 4850X2 as well, but it will be up to AIB partners to decide. The rumors have been many, ranging from the extreme ones claiming a MCM design where the two cores would be merged together, to the less exciting R680 copy/paste design. It seems we will land somewhere in between, far from surprisingly. Stories are going around that RV770 CrossFire may not suffer from microstuttering, but nothing can be said for certain at this time. What we do know for certain is that AMD has reworked the bridge of the dual-chip card.

According to a slide published over at OCXtreme R700 will have "2nd generation PCI Express bridge design + next generation GPU interconnect for improved scaling". Along with the vague description of the card is a screengrab from 3DMark Vantage and a complete run of the eXtreme Preset. GPU-Z shows four RV770 GPUs, which means two Radeon HD 4870 linked via CrossFireX. What makes us a bit suspicious is the fact that the detection of the card works so well here, but then again muich of the data presented by it is off by a margin or two. In any case, the score is X12515. The system specifications are unknown.

http://www.nordichardware.com/image3.php?id=5300
http://www.nordichardware.com/image3.php?id=5299
Source
Edited by linskingdom - 6/20/08 at 3:56am
post #2 of 9
'Next generation' probably means 'PCI Express 2.0'.

Oh well, no fancy MCM, HyperTransport or anything else people were dreaming about, but maybe it'll work well without too.
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post #3 of 9
could be good all we need now would be the price, solid release date ad real benches ... hurry up

a better image link for the vantage score http://www.nordichardware.com/image3.php?id=5297
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post #4 of 9
Well what about the GPU interconnect? Could that be the Hypertransport like point-to-point link for the GPUs rumored?
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post #5 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Somenoob View Post
Well what about the GPU interconnect? Could that be the Hypertransport like point-to-point link for the GPUs rumored?
That's what they're talking about when they say 'bridge design'..

No, it's not anything fancy, it's just PCI-E. Whatever 'next generation' means it can't be anything more special than PCI-E 2.0.
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post #6 of 9
Here's what Ive come up on the interconnect - the PCIe bridge (I've read it somewhere a few weeks ago).

ATI has apparently managed to create a new kind of PCIe interconnect which works totally different from the current chip. It is PCIe 2.0, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. This bridge chip not only does it make the interface between the VID cards and the PCIe slot on the mobo, but it also takes care of the memory; it effectively merges the 2x256 bit memory bus into a single coherent 512 bit mem bus, thus removing the need of synchronization between the two chips - it will have a 1GB framebuffer that is accessible to both the GPUs.

It looks to me like some kind of a northbridge/cpu topology: the GPUs are the processing cores while the bridge chip takes care of the memory (virtualised most likely) and of the I/O with the motherboard.

If this is true, than we can expect the 4870 X2 to behave exactly like 2xR770 on a single package (like the C2Qs), but with the advantage that the chips can be assembled on single GPU VID cards if needed. This is why it's between an MCM and the current PCIe solution.

Promise to try to find the article
Edited by dragosmp - 6/20/08 at 8:08am
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post #7 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by dragosmp View Post
Here's what Ive come up on the interconnect (I've read it somewhere a few weeks ago).

ATI has apparently managed to create a new kind of PCIe interconnect which works totally different from the current chip. It is PCIe 2.0, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. This bridge chip not only does it make the interface between the VID cards and the PCIe slot on the mobo, but it also takes care of the memory; it effectively merges the 2x256 bit memory bus into a single coherent 512 bit mem bus, thus removing the need of sincronisation between the two chips - it will have a 1GB framebuffer that is accessible to both the GPUs.

It looks to me like somekind of a northbridge/cpu topology: the GPUs are the processing cores while the bridge chip takes care of the memory (virtualised most likely) and of the I/O with the motherboard.

If this is true, than we can expect the 4870 X2 to behave exactly like 2xR770 on a single package (like the C2Qs), but with the advantage that the chips can be assembeld on single GPU VID cards if needed. This is why it's between an MCM and the current PCIe solution.

Promiss to try to find the article
Well, it would certainly be nice, but right now I'm expecting 'just' a 3870X2 with new chips on it. That way I won't be disappointed.
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post #8 of 9
Here's one of the articles that makes a reference to this, there may be others. CLICK HERE.

Quote:
You saw a little of that with the 3870X2, but the bridge was a simple PCIe switch. The real magic this time is a bridge that shares memory, GDDR5 in this case. Yup, you will have 2 GPUs with one set of memory.
This simplifies designs, lowers chip cost, and speeds time to market. You get two full variants for the design cost of 1.25, and you are on the happy end of the cost/area curve for fabbing silicon. While the early word on GT200 is that it is again 500mm^2+, ATI will have 2x chips that are much smaller, which translates into a huge cost advantage.
The other nice thing is that the bridge should keep the GPUs hidden from the system. This has a disadvantage of hard-wiring in the Crossfire modes leaving a little performance on the table, but when you have two of them in the system, it looks like two GPUs, not four. One look at the 1 -> 2 -> 4 scaling rates will show what a win that is.
*EDIT At that time they couldn't know the actual die area of the GT200 (2 months ago) unless the sources were reliable. It's safe from my pow to assume they are right also about the R700, moreover because more and more rapports lean into that direction.
Edited by dragosmp - 6/20/08 at 6:20am
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post #9 of 9
I can't wait to see this bridge if it can virtually merge two GPUs into one. I figured the next generation bridge simply meant that it now is based on PCI-E 2.0 since the first was built on 1.0. However, if it can now also manage memory pooling and coherency, that's huge. I wonder if the knowledge of that bridge can somehow be adapted to their CPU designs.... It would be a pretty seamless MCM...
    
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