updated 09:25 am EST, Wed February 14, 2007
Radeon X2000 for Mac Pro
(Updated with new details) AMD's upcoming major overhaul of the Radeon graphics line may make its first appearance in an Apple tower, sources have told The Inquirer. The highest-end part in what will soon be named the Radeon X2000 series, AMD's new card -- codenamed the R600XTX -- was initially revealed over the weekend in a leaked photo that described it only as an OEM model destined for a large-scale system builder. That builder is Apple, the source claims, which will use the card in its next Mac Pro. Measuring a large 12 inches long, the card has a custom heatpipe to reduce noise. The card will also reportedly mark Apple's first instance of support for AMD's Crossfire mode, which dramatically improves 3D performance by linking two cards together.
The R600XTX should also represent the first video chipset from the Mac maker to offer a unified shader system, allowing it to create more complex visual effects by merging pixel and vertex processing into a single pipeline. AMD further hopes to make the card faster than NVIDIA's currently leading GeForce 8800 series through sheer brute force, according to alleged specifcations: a full 1GB of memory clocked at 2GHz will sit on the card while the core itself will runs at 800MHz, completely eclipsing the 1.8GHz memory and 575MHz core of the fastest GeForce model.
An official launch date for the updated Radeon is unknown but is likely to occur in March, according to an earlier report by The Inquirer, as AMD is expected to make an official announcement at the CeBIT expo the same month. Actual availability of the card may wait until late March as production ramps up.
Update: The new card will be named the X2800, according to the source, and will ship in two distinct versions. The 800MHz version is the X2800XTX, a mid-range card designed to produce as much performance as possible out of a single chip. The X2800XTX2 will include dual chips clocked at a lower 575MHz but offering an overall higher performance level. It should retail for $600; the price of the single-chip X2800, as well as which of the two Apple will use, still remains unknown.