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Hundreds of ATI SKUs ahoy (potentially...)

by Willy Deeplung on 14 December 2006, 19:40

Tags: ATi Technologies (NYSE:AMD)

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We've learned that ATI's got a new method for shutting down knackered bits of chips, paving the way for better yields and potentially a slew of SKUs.

Fabricate a batch of chips on a silicon wafer and chances are that some of them will be a bit dodgy... or a lot dodgy; it depends on how refined the manufacturing process is and how 'close to the edge' the chip design is. Still, rather than completely writing off chips that don't quite work, sometimes parts of them can be disabled. With GPUs, the result can be a SKU with a lower number of texture units, pixels shaders and so on.

ATI's developed a new technology called eFuse, which is intended to provide more control over specific parts of the chip, i.e. make it easier to 'turn off' smaller sections, rather than large chunks of chip. It's obviously better to have more control, especially if it saves shutting down bits of silicon that are mostly capable of functioning properly.

So, in terms of getting a saleable product from iffy wafers, it's great news. The only snag is that with a more versatile means of controlling the chips, we could see some very varied GPU configurations, leading to lots of different SKUs... as if the discrete graphics card market wasn't confusing enough with all the different products and xtreme hyperbole.

We'll have to see what AIB partners do before we cast judgement on the benefit of eFuse from a consumer perspective.

HEXUS Forums :: 9 Comments

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I don't think this bodes well for ATI. Don't get me wrong. I like ATI cards, and both of my current systems have them. At the same time, I remember when I would avoid ATI because I couldn't be sure about what I was actually getting. So, yes, from a production standpoint it makes sense, they just hope it doesn't backfire on them.
meh, this'll only reduce the chance of a softmod. no more 9500s then :(
Hopefully they will just do something like being able to turn off pipes 3, 7, 8, and 13 in a 16 pipe card to make a 12 pipe instead of having to do it in a block. Or better yet promise at least 12 pipes, but you could get 13 or 14 if you're lucky. Either way too many SKUs just makes people confused and interested in nVidia.
just a very enhacned version of what they do with cpus - but insted of downgrading them on speed - they down-model them for spec.

so less waste, and more profits or perhaps lower prices which is good
Depends how far they take this IMO, wityh CPU's it's mainly just the frequency that is changed (also cache, but to a much lesser extent).

If you start having 4+ variables with 3 options on each one that's a huge number of cards already. It's already bad enough with the XL, XT, XTX etc.