updated 08:10 am EST, Fri January 9, 2009
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4K
AMD entered the second day of CES with a formal unveiling for the ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4000 series of notebook graphics chips. The new wave of hardware is based on the same core architecture as the desktop 4000 series and in many cases are much faster for the power used than earlier generations; AMD estimates that performance is as much as twice as fast on a given part versus its 3000 series ancestor. Much of the gain comes from both a cooler 55 nanometer proccess as well an increased number of stream (graphics) units, with the top-end Mobility Radeon HD 4870 and 4850 carrying 800 of the effects generators versus just 320 on the 3870.
This new flagship also marks the first instance of GDDR5 memory being used in mobile graphics and provides more headroom for games and other 3D software that depends on bandwidth for speed. Two of the chips can be paired in CrossFire mode to produce enough power to run most titles at full detail at the speeds of better desktops.
Beyond the top end model, a new mid-range 4600 series is targeted at mainstream systems as well as at larger thin-and-light notebooks and has the same 320 stream units as the previous top-end but at power levels that allow a fit in tight enclosures. It includes both a starter 4650 model as well as a slightly faster 4670 variant, both of which use less bandwidth-heavy GDDR3 memory but can still support up to 1GB to make up the difference.
Two chip lines for smaller or very power-efficient notebooks are also being launched. The 4500 series is split into 4530 and 4570 models and drops down to 80 stream units to conserve energy and lower the price. A single 4300 series model, the 4330, is meant to potentially replace the Mobility Radeon HD 3410 in systems based on the Athlon Neo platform or which otherwise can only afford the most efficient or lowest-cost mobile graphics, though it shares the same 80 graphics units.
All of the new parts carry AMD's full DirectX 10.1/OpenGL 2 effects, hardware movie decoding and general-purpose GPU calculations; they also carry the full range of power-saving offerings and can switch to an integrated graphics chipset to save energy when performance isn't essential.
AMD notes that systems based on the updated Mobility Radeon components are shipping quickly and that systems from ASUS, MSI and others will be available before the end of March.