AMD will finally launch its long-awaited 690-series chipset-family tomorrow. Two variants will spearhead the release: the RS690-based mainstream AMD 690G with ATI Radeon X1250 graphics, and the RS690C-based value AMD 690V with ATI Radeon X1200 graphics.
AMD’s 690-family hit plenty of snags along its development cycle. Early roadmaps showed a 2H’2006 launch, however, AMD kept pushing the launch back. Motherboard vendors blamed the delayed launch on AMD for multiple delays with the RS690. AMD’s discrete RX690 variant that was to launch in the same timeframe as RS690 has yet to make an appearance.
The integrated ATI Radeon X1250 and X1200 graphics cores are identical, in terms of 3D capabilities. Although the ATI Radeon X700-series provides the foundation for the ATI Radeon X1250/X1200 IGP, it is a neutered derivative. The ATI Radeon X1200-family IGP features four pixel-pipelines with four pixel-shaders — there are no hardware vertex shaders. Unlike some ATI Radeon X1000-series GPUs, the pixel-pipelines have not been decoupled – the ATI Radeon X1200-family only has two pixel-shaders. AMD specifies a 400 MHz GPU-core clock for reference designs.
Gaming performance with the ATI Radeon X1200-family IGP is better than NVIDIA and Intel offerings, according to AMD’s internal testing. With an AMD Athlon 64 X2 5200+ and 2GB of DDR2-667 memory, users should expect a 3DMark05 score above 1000, but under 1200-points. Synthetic benchmarks aside, users should expect 30-35-fps in Half Life 2 and 35-40-fps in Far Cry, according to AMD. AMD’s internal testing was conducted with a screen-resolution of 1024×768, anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering disabled.
Video output capabilities differ between the ATI Radeon X1250 and X1200 integrated graphics processors. The ATI Radeon X1200 powered AMD 690V only supports D-Sub VGA and TV-output capabilities. AMD ups the ante with the AMD 690G with ATI Radeon X1250 graphics by integrating native DVI and HDMI output capabilities with support for HDCP, despite previous delays.
AMD’s 690G will drive simultaneous DVI and HDMI devices too. It is up to the manufacturer to support the output capabilities of the AMD 690G, though some manufacturers have opted to provide HDMI outputs via an ADD2-style add-in card.
Don’t expect to use ADD2 add-in cards on AMD 690G-based motherboards though, as the 690G video output expansion cards are physical outputs on a PCIe x16-sized card without any electronics on it. Both the AMD 690G with ATI Radeon X1250 and 690V with ATI Radeon X1200 support TV-output capabilities, though it is up to the motherboard manufacturer to provide the outputs.
Video processing is where the new AMD 690-series shines. Featuring AVIVO Technology, the AMD 690-series boasts hardware acceleration for H.264 and VC-1 high-definition video formats. Blu-ray and HD DVD disc formats use H.264 and VC-1 video encoding.
AMD touts high-quality DVD playback capabilities with the 690-series as well – earning a score of 80 in Silicon Optix’s HQV DVD-benchmark. Similar NVIDIA GeForce 7050 and nForce 630a configurations scored 20-points while Intel’s G965 scored 48-points. Silicon Optix’s HQV DVD-benchmark displays various video clips and test patterns to evaluate a video device’s processing capabilities. The maximum achievable score is 130-points.
The integrated ATI Radeon X1200-family graphics core also feature 10-bit digital video processing for up to 10.7 billion colors, the average video processor only displays 16.7 million colors. AMD touts 3:2 pull down detection for progressive DVD video playback too.
Users that prefer to install their own graphics card may do so with a single PCIe x16 slot. Graphics aside, AMD has moved certain south bridge functions to north bridge with the AMD690G and 690V.
Although the AMD 690G or 690V is paired with the SB600, high-definition audio and PCIe x1 is a north bridge function. With the native HDMI output capabilities on the 690G, the north bridge-located audio controller allows the HDMI output to carry digital audio while bypassing the high-definition audio codec.
Since audio and PCIe x1 expansion is moved to the north bridge, the SB600 south bridge is only responsible for ten USB 2.0 ports, 4x SATA 3.0Gbps, one PATA and the PCI-bus. Lastly, the AMD 690G is an AMD validated solution for its complete commercial platform.
The following AMD 690G and 690V-based products have been confirmed:
Expect AMD 690G and 690V-based motherboards to hit retail next month ready to take on NVIDIA’s GeForce 7050 and nForce 630a, and GeForce 6100 and nForce 410/405. Pricing will be around $80 USD for an AMD 690G-based motherboard.
Update 2/28/2007: The ATI Radeon X1250 has four pixel-pipelines and pixel shaders instead of the original reported two. There are no hardware vertex shaders in the IGP.
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