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ATI Radeon X1000 Family Preview: Performance analysis
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Old 5th October 2005, 14:26   #1
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Default ATI Radeon X1000 Family Preview: Performance analysis

The long wait is finally over; ATI’s next generation graphics technology is here. It has been a very long time since we have seen a big architectural change from ATI. What took them so long this time? Well, apparently, they were targeting the beginning of summer for launching this new series of graphics cards. Unfortunately, they ran into a circuit bug that was preventing them from achieving the clock speeds they were targeting. Once this circuit bug was fixed, they were able to ramp up production and deliver the goods. (Editor's note: Some X1000 video cards are expected to be in retail stock the morning of 10/6/05, but this has yet to be realized at publication time. We will update this as needed.) There were many rumors floating around that ATI was having problems with the move to a 90 nanometers manufacturing process. According to ATI, the circuit bug alone was the only that kept them from releasing the cards on time.

A brief look back takes us to the R300, which is more commonly known as the Radeon 9700. When the 9700 was released, it put ATI a huge distance ahead of their competition. This graphics chip was designed very smartly, efficiently and built with the future of gaming in mind. ATI took many risks with the feature set in the Radeon 9700, which greatly paid off for them in the end. If you ask ATI what their goal is with this next generation graphics chipset, they will tell you they hope this chip is as much of a success as the Radeon 9700.

Ever since the Radeon 9700 was launched back in 2002, ATI has been refreshing their product lineup. They have added a few new features here and there, improved efficiency, improved the manufacturing processes, increased clock speeds to new heights, and worked on power efficiency. However, all of that has been done without changes to the basic core technology of the Radeon 9700. Sure, they added Pixel Shader 2.0b support and 3DC, but we haven’t really seen those two technologies widely exploited in games. In short, ATI has not changed their core architecture for 3 years. This hasn’t hurt them too badly, until NVIDIA recently launched the NV40 with some new key features that ATI lacked. ATI was also very lucky that NVIDIA’s NV30 (GeForce FX series) was a horrible performing GPU. ATI was literally there at the right time with the right hardware to capitalize on providing the best experience for gamers.

While ATI did enjoy success for a long time with their video cards, the tables have turned and now ATI is playing catch up. Over a year ago, NVIDIA released their NV40 (GeForce 6800) GPU that simply wiped the floor in features and performance compared to the ATI R420 technology, otherwise known as the Radeon X800 series. NVIDIA introduced hardware support for Shader Model 3.0 and support for Floating Point 16 blending in the framebuffer. With the NV40, NVIDIA’s completely new architecture made people quickly forget the horrendous GeForce FX. Furthermore, ATI had some production problems with high-end X800 XT and PEs (Joking referred to as the “Phantom Editions.”) that caused some price gouging on high-end ATI cards as well as limited availability. ATI answered this issue with a small refresh called the Radeon X850 series that promised better yields and more readily available parts; however, this card was still based on the Shader Model 2.0 capabilities of the Radeon X800, which was really based on the core architecture from the Radeon 9700. The Radeon X800 and X850 series were fast in games, and produced good image quality, but they could not keep up with the features that NVIDIA was bringing to the market.

Enthusiasts have waited with bated breath to see just what ATI would deliver to compete with the NV40, but only the Radeon X850 series came. Time went on, and out came NVIDIA’s G70 series that had been re-designed to be much more efficient with shader processing. The GeForce 7800 GTX and GT have easily put NVIDIA on top of the gaming market by offering both the best price versus performance and the best image quality without question.

ATI is now ready to announce a completely new architecture built from the ground up, which they like to quote as “Shader Model 3.0 Done Right.” Inside we will talk about this new technology from a gaming point of view and we will do some gameplay evaluation on their mainstream and performance part to let you know how the cards really stack up.

http://www.hardocp.com/article.html?art=ODIy
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Old 5th October 2005, 14:51   #3
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HardwareAnalysis numbers seem to be CORRECT after all

Doom3 GTX wins
FarCry ATI wins

http://www.hardwareanalysis.com/content/article/1813.4/
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Old 5th October 2005, 15:03   #4
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The X1600 (pro) seems to be a nice buy, if the price is right...
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