The next generation of ATI's South Bridge core logic technology will support Flash memory as a fast-loading, power-conserving hard drive data cache, if allegedly leaked company roadmap slides are to be believed.
ATI's current South Bridge, SB600, debuted in May this year, though it didn't show up in chipsets until a little later on. According to slides posted by Spanish-language site ChileHardware.com, its successor, SB700, will debut in Q4 2007, just ahead of Socket AM2+ chipsets RS740 and RS790.
SB700 will support a total of 12 USB ports and six 3Gbps SATA ports, the slides indicate. More interesting, is the reference to Flash support, surely an alternative to Intel' 'Robson' technology - a plug-in NAND Flash module due to debut with the next incarnation of Centrino, 'Santa Rosa'.
It's not clear how the SB700 will support Flash - through an optional add-in module like Robson, or as a directly-connected bank of NAND Flash chips. We suspect the former but either way, the non-volatile memory's role will be to hold frequently accessed data. Flash memory has speedier access times than hard drives, resulting in faster application load times and accelerated awakening from a PC's sleep mode.
Both AMD/ATI and Intel Flash systems will initially tap into Windows Vista's support for such devices, a technology Microsoft calls ReadyDrive. ®