ATI R600 and VLIW architecture: a retrospective analysis

Written by Gionatan Danti on . Posted in Hardware analysis

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Over four years has passed since the debut of the first product powered by ATI's then-new R600 design, the Radeon 2900XT. This graphic card was generally unable to compete, both performance- wise and in power consumption, with nVidia's 8800GTX, powered by the formidable nVidia's G80 chip.

On the other hand, while the 2900XT is remembered more for its problems (power consumption and not-over-the-top performance) than for its features, the chip's design proved to be a capable one: it scaled very well on RV770, RV870 and (with some major modifications) on Cayman ASICs.

However, all these chips received a number of criticisms base on their VLIW roots: each time a R600-derived chip failed to impress in some games and / or benchmarks, many source claimed that the cause was its VLIW arrangement. Are these claims true? R600 VLIW nature really was a problem rather than an opportunity? In this article, we well try to answer these questions.

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