Secret facts about ATI RD600
For starters, the chipset is based on a 90nm manufacturing process, which means motherboard manufactures will be able to produce silent 0db motherboards based on RD600. Even during half way through our benchmarking, physically touching the chipset by hand, it barely even felt warm. You may end up seeing some companies add active cooling solutions to their retail RD600 motherboards, since the chipset is designed for overclockers and gamers.
Along with obvious support for CrossFire dual graphics (two X8 slots), ATI has designed the RD600 to be very future proof. Most RD600 based motherboards should come out with three x16 PCI Express graphics (PEG) slots. The first two are obviously for CrossFire but the third (physical X16 slot but operating at only X2) is for physics processing - ATI should have its physics hardware ready soon and the RD600 is setup to take advantage of this by using an additional graphics cards in the third PEG slot.
Not only this, but the big shock is RD600 was designed for the ground up to support not only DDR-2 but also upcoming DDR-3 memory. In fact, ATI has already fully tested DDR-3 memory on RD600 and it is working fine, months ahead of before it is due to be released for public consumption. ATI are ready for DDR-3 memory whenever it enters the market, which is likely after Q2 2007, according to our sources. Since DDR-3 memory uses a different slot to DDR-2, you won't be able to use new DDR-3 memory on current RD600 motherboards you buy this year or early next year. As well as the new memory slot, our friends in the bunker also told us that a new PCB design is required but it only requires a very small change to the internal circuitry - nothing too complex.
The motherboard we looked at last week was an ATI reference board named "Marlin". We're unsure of the revision number but we were told it was the latest reference version from ATI. In fact, we have been informed that motherboard makers have already started to receive the first versions of their RD600 retail boards and now they will spend a month or two tweaking the product and BIOS for maximum performance and overclocking support.