ATI will be moving its entire chip design to a new, shiny 45nm process by 2008
, according to the company. The new process should allow for cheaper chips that have considerably less power and thermal requirements. Though ATI will likely be the second company to use 45nm processes (Intel is expected to shrink to it in 2007), it will almost assuredly beat rival NVIDIA to the technology.
The move is made possible by ATI's chosen fab company, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp (TSMC). TSMC announced its plan to make 45nm lines available earlier this year, though it was having difficulty implementing them at the time. Apparently, these issues have been ironed out - perhaps with a little help from AMD's engineers, which have been studying 45nm processes for a little while and will be switching right around the same time.
ATI currently manufactures most of its GPUs on a 90nm process, so a shrink to 45nm is going to result in a tremendous boost over current generation. This will not change the company's switch to 80nm processes in 2007, however. Currently, ATI has one 80nm chip, which sits on the X1950 Pro. Most of its line should be converted to 80nm by Q2 2007. In comparison, NVIDIA is still using 90nm processes.
Hopefully, a switch to 45nm will take some of the sting out of the power and heat requirements that the upcoming DX10 cards seem to be pushing. Do you have a thought on the size change? Let us hear it in our forums