Keeping Up with Ultra-Fast GPUs
As PC graphics cards’ 3D accelerators have grown more and more powerful (indeed, ATI Technologies’ new Radeon 9700 Pro chip has as many transistors — 110 million — as two Intel Pentium 4s), manufacturers have moved from generic memory to faster VRAM and SGRAM and, nowadays, DDR memory. But ATI says still faster memory is needed — so it’s collaborated with DRAM vendors to complete a specification for third-generation double-data-rate memory for graphics, called GDDR3.
According to ATI, while today’s DDR DRAM operates at speeds up to 400MHz, GDDR3 will debut next year at 500MHz and has headroom for 800MHz. The company calls it “the first DRAM designed specifically for a market before an industry standard is available.”
ATI’s partners in the GDDR3 scheme include Micron, Infineon, Elpida Memory (USA), and Hynix Semiconductor America. Expanding on the work of the JEDEC industry consortium in designing DDR-II for the mainstream memory market, GDDR3 emphasizes high-speed signaling optimized for graphics processing.