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Product : Toxic X700 Pro
Company : Sapphire
Author : Mark 'Ratchet' Thorne
Date : February 16th, 2005

Specifications & Features

The MR 9700 is an evolutionary step from the MR 9600, much like the refresh from the Radeon 9600 to the Radeon 9600 XT. The MR 9700 is more or less a MR 9600 manufactured using TSMC's .13 micron low-k process. Why ATI didn't use the XT nomenclature and called it a Mobility Radeon 9600 XT is due to a number of marketing reasons. ATI notes that mobile and desktop branding is separate and there isn't always a direct correlation between the two. Using the 9700 series number does seem a bit misleading as an enthusiast may associate it with 8 pipelines instead of the 4 that the MR 9700 has. However, to the average consumer the name 9700 will mean faster performance than the 9600, which is true. Also XT has so far been used in naming desktop cards that support OverDrive. Sadly the chances of an OEM implementing this feature for the mobile front are pretty slim.

ATI first employed the enhanced low-k TSMC 0.13 micron LV process with the Radeon 9600 XT in October which has provided them with plenty of experience with the new process. So it must have been a fairly simple (relatively) for ATI to switch to the mobile chipset. What exactly is low-k?

The MR 9700 consists of millions of transistors. These transistors measure 0.13 microns across or one thousandth the width of a human hair. The transistors are coated with a layer of insulating material and connected using very thin metal wires. Groups of connected transistors form logic gates, which can switch on and off to perform various functions. The MR 9600 used FSG (Fluorine-doped Silicate Glass) as its insulating material. The MR 9700 uses Black Diamond which has significantly less capacitance than FSG, this results in faster transistor switching. The capacitance of a given material is determined by its dielectric constant (k), so this material commonly referred to as a low-k.

So what's the final result of switching to low-k? Significantly faster clock speeds. The MR 9700 is clocked at 450MHz. A jump of 117MHz from the MR 9600 Turbo Pro (using ATI's new naming scheme) clocked at 333MHz. This is a 35% clock increase! What's more impressive though and more importantly is that the power usage has only risen marginally. A laptop using a MR 9700 would die only a few minutes earlier than a similarly configured laptop using a MR 9600 when both are running at full load!

The Mobility Radeon 9700 power management solution is packaged under the PowerPlay brand. Like the MR9600 the MR 9700 employs PowerPlay 4.0 which encompasses both hardware and software power saving features including 13 micron process w/ low-k, clock gating (>30), frequency throttling, power-on-demand II, thermal diode, power events (ac/dc/battery), refresh rate reduction, motion comp & IDCT and an intuitive user control. ATI will be refining the controls as well, giving users more customizability and control.

Silicon Process .13µ low-k
Core Speed
Memory Speed
Memory Interface 128bit
Rendering Pipelines 4
TMUs Per Pipeline 1
Pixel-Shader version 2.0
2 (2.0)
Z-Compression 4:1
Max - 24:1 @ 6x FSAA
Color Compression 6:1

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