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The R600 is the first personal computer graphics processing unit (GPU) from ATI based on a unified shader architecture. It is ATI's second generation unified shader design and is based on the Xenos GPU implemented in the Xbox 360 game console, which used the world's first such shader architecture. Previous GPU architectures implement separate processors for each type of graphics function. A unified architecture leverages many flexible processors which can be scheduled to process a variety of shader types, thereby significantly increasing GPU throughput (dependent on application instruction mix as noted below). The R600 core processes vertex, geometry, and pixel shaders as outlined by the Direct3D 10.0 specification for Shader Model 4.0 in addition to full OpenGL 3.0 support.
The new unified shader functionality is based upon a very long instruction word (VLIW) architecture in which the core executes operations in parallel.