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ATI discusses Revolution graphics chip

Amidst the rumour and speculation on Nintendo's entrance into the next-generation hardware race, graphics chip manufacturer ATI has revealed a little more information on its latest console specific technology.

As the rumour and speculation surrounding Nintendo's next-gen Revolution console continues to grow, technology giant ATI has gone on record to discuss the chip it is currently developing to power the new machine.

In a recent interview with RevolutionReport.com, ATI's John Swiminer confirmed that the Revolution chip, currently titled Hollywood will not be based on current or forthcoming PC architecture - although he did not comment on whether it is based on Flipper, the chip used in the Nintendo GameCube.

"Hollywood is a specific design and is in no way reflective of PC technology. Even when the Flipper chips came out, people were asking that question: "Is this a spin-off of something done on the PC?", and the answer is no," Swiminer stated.

"It is designed the same as the Flipper was - from the ground up for a specific console. [It's a] totally different sort of architecture from what you might find on the PC. Certainly, there are some underlying values - you know, how you get graphics on the screen - that's there. It's not, for example, like we took a PC design and said 'oh, you know what? If we tweak this and test this, it will work in a console', " he added.

Concern over the technical power of the new machine is rife, with some industry sources speculating that just as the GameCube failed to compete with the Xbox and PS2, the Revolution won't prove as popular with consumers who want high-powered, cutting edge technology in the shape of the PS3 and Xbox 360.

Swiminer said little to alleviate these concerns, simply reiterating the information Nintendo has already revealed - the focus of the design and the manufacturing of the Revolution is centred around gameplay and innovation, rather than technical prowess and flash graphical functionality.

"ATI is focused, as is Nintendo, in making Revolution a great, gaming entertainment platform. I know that a lot of journalists are very focused on specs. The key thing to keep in mind is that Nintendo, with ATI's help, is trying to create a game console where you don't have to look at specs," Swiminer said.

"From a broader perspective, we share in Nintendo's position that this console will be devoted to the general gamer. When you have a game developer developing for this, the goal is to ensure that they don't have to worry about the complexity that is required to develop the games by making them 'jump through hoops.'"

"That was one of the benefits of working on the GameCube; developers were saying that it is quite easy to develop for and there are not a lot of complexities so they could produce titles easily. That being said, we want consumers to look at the game, play the game and be involved in it. We are doing our very best to make this Nintendo gaming experience the very best it can be."

To date, both Nintendo and Sony have declined to reveal firm plans for the launch of their new machines, although industry speculation places both consoles on retail release in 2006. That being the case, developers are going to need working development units as soon as possible to ensure the launch line-up is as comprehensive and attractive to the consumer as possible.

When questioned on the completion and availability of Revolution's Hollywood graphics chip, Swiminer simply stated: "I know that Nintendo has committed to 2006 availability. Certainly, game developers need some time to start developing games for it. I can't say anything more than that."

Further details, including a potential hardware showcase, are expected to be revealed by Nintendo at this year's annual Electronic Entertainment Expo in May.

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