ATI RADEON 9100 IGP Preview
Integrated Graphics for the Pentium 4

By: Chris Angelini
July 7th, 2003


ATI's engineers have worked hard this past year.  At the risk of being redundant, they've escorted to market the R300 series of Visual Processing Units (VPUs), they've spun off mainstream versions of the same chip for broader appeal, and they've successfully implemented the R300 and R350 processors (operating at full-speed) into the All-In-Wonder family of multimedia products.  What a busy bunch of beavers.  But there are other aspects of computing in which the expertise of a graphics company proves useful.  ATI's rival, NVIDIA, already knows that.  NVIDIA's nForce and nForce2 chipsets have delivered above-average platform performance, and to those who don't mind the limited power of an integrated graphics core, acceptable 3D processing as well.  That is, it has done so for owners of AMD's Athlon XP processor.  NVIDIA can't seem to get its hands on a Pentium 4 bus license, which would be the first step in competing with Intel's immensely successful chipset lineup.  ATI, on the other hand, does have the necessary relationship with Intel to manufacture Pentium 4-compliant core logic chipset. 

And while ATI hasn't put the finishing touches on its brand new RADEON 9100 IGP quite yet, we've been offered a peek into what the platform will offer when it becomes available a little later this year.  When it arrives, ATI will position the chipset as a desktop solution and as a mobile product.  In fact, Phil Eisler, VP and General Manager of ATI's integrated and mobile business unit, expects the RADEON 9100 IGP to predominantly surface in pre-built consumer PCs, though manufacturers such as ASUS, MSI, and Gigabyte are already lined up to deliver motherboards powered by the chipset. 

Specifications of ATI's desktop RADEON 9100 IGP
ATI Jumps on the Dual-Channel DDR Bus

  
Reuven Soraya, Director of Marketing and Phil Eisler, VP and General Manager (Mobile Business Unit)
 

CPU:

  • Supports Intel Pentium 4 Socket 478 processors with 533/400MHz front side bus

  • Supports Hyper-Threading technology

  • In-order Queue depth of 12

  • Supports Dynamic Bus Inversion (DBI)

Chipset:

  • AGP 3.0 compliant interface with Fast Write support

  • 266MB/s point-to-point interface to ATI IXP in A-link mode

  • Unified Memory Architecture (for graphics memory)

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Memory:

  • Dual channel, 128-bit DDR SDRAM memory interface

  • Support for up to DDR400 SDRAM (up to 6.4GB per second of bandwidth)

  • Up to 4GB SDRAM

  • Between 16 and 128MB of main memory configurable as display memory

2D Graphics Features:

  • Optimized 128-bit 2D engine

  • Hardware cursor up to 64x64x32

  • Supports a maximum resolution of 2048x1536x32

  • Support for Windows XP alpha cursor

USB 2.0:

  • 6 USB 2.0 ports

IDE:

  • Two independent IDE channels with support for up to ATA-100

LAN:

  • Integrated 3Com 10/100 Ethernet controller

3D Graphics Features

  • HyperZ memory optimization

  • Hardware acceleration with Pixel Shader 1.4 support

  • Supports up to 2048x1536x32

  • Supports 3D textures and Microsoft DXTC

  • Anisotropic filtering and anti-aliasing

Video Features:

  • Video scaling and filtering with 4-tap horizontal and vertical filter

  • Integrated hardware motion compensation and iDCT

  • Enhanced MPEG-2 hardware decode

  • Hardware DVD sub-picture decode

Display Controller:

  • Dual CRT controllers for independent dual-display support

  • Display rotation support

  • Integrated precision 300MHz triple 10-bit DACs for high-resolution

Other Features:

  • 12-bit digital output via external TMDS

  • Integrated TV encoder


As you can see in the block diagram, the RADEON 9100 IGP is a very capable Northbridge.  Beyond a standard memory controller and AGP 8x interface, it also provides integrated DirectX 8.1-class graphics.  The board ATI supplied consists of the 9100 IGP and ATI's most advanced IXP, the 250.  Again, according to Mr. Phil Eisler, the IXP 250 will be revised towards the end of the year to include an integrated Serial ATA controller (currently the most glaring omission from the chipset's spec sheet) and enhanced USB 2.0 connectivity.  As it stands now, the IXP 250 offers an integrated 10/100 3Com Ethernet controller, six USB 2.0 ports, an ATA-100 interface, manageability functions and AC'97 audio.  The RADEON 9100 IGP can also interface with a third-party Southbridge over the PCI bus though, so motherboard manufacturers may opt for a more advanced product, such as VIA's recently released VT8237 that does feature a RAID-capable, Serial ATA controller.

Inside the RADEON 9100 IGP