We asked ATi to give us a rundown on the
main differences between the Radeon 8500 and 9000s and we've
listed their responses below:
has a single DX8.1 programmable vertex shader pipeline
(vs. two in the 8500), but has a faster triangle setup
engine. This means the 9000 is slower than the 8500
when handling complex vertex shaders or TRUFORM, but equal
or slightly faster than the 8500 when handling lots of
can process one texture per clock cycle per rendering
pipeline (like the 9700), whereas the 8500 could process
two textures per clock cycle per pipe. However, both
chips can still handle the same number of textures per
pass (i.e., six), and the DX8.1 pixel shader units of the
9000 are much more efficient than those in the 8500,
providing significantly higher performance in pixel shader-intensive
adds support for higher precision 32-bit texture formats
(10 bits per color channel vs. 8 in the 8500). The
9000 supports the ability to combine programmable pixel
shaders with video streams, allowing applications like our
FULLSTREAM video de-blocking.
includes dual integrated 400 MHz 10-bit per channel DACs,
whereas the 8500 required an external secondary DAC for
As you can
see, the 9000 and 8500 have their similarities, but the 9000
series does have an identity all it's own, offering several
advantages over the veteran GPU. Next we'll
highlight several of the technologies incorporated into the
Radeon 9000 series and identify their key roles.
Technologies of the Radeon 9000 Series
Normally we like to take a look
at the driver package included with a new piece of hardware.
However, since the Radeon 9000 series is using the Catalyst
driver package, we feel we covered them sufficiently when
they were first release in June. If you would like to
take a look at the Catalyst drivers in more detail, please
head on over here for a closer look. Instead we
thought we would touch on a few of the key technologies that
are incorporated into the Radeon 9000 Series...
CHARISMA ENGINE II and
This is the second coming of ATi's TCL (Transform,
Clipping and Lighting) and Programmable Vertex Shader
Engine. This geometry engine is DirectX 8.1
compliant, as was the Radeon 8500's. The main strength of
their SMARTSHADER Technology is to accelerate Vertex and
Pixel Shader effects, rendering environments, characters
and animations that appear more natural. As more
game developers take advantage of these news features,
realism will be increased, allowing 3D worlds to appear
more lifelike. Below is an example of how Pixel
Shaders can affect imagine quality and realism. Note
the difference in the quality of the water in each image.
QUAD PIPELINE ARCHITECTURE:
A Quad Pipelined Architecture is nothing new to the Radeon
9000. ATi is simply branding this architecture now,
and as we have seen with the Radeon 8500, it certainly has
its merits. The architecture allows the the video
card to process up to 6 textures per pass, per pipeline.
Processing more textures per pixel in a single pass,
allows for higher performance in the heavily detailed
scenes generated by next generation game engines.
ATi has always shown strength in heavy texture detail
benchmarks, like Serious Sam, and the R9000 should
continue that trend.
This is ATi' s AA and Anisotropic Filtering Engine.
The Radeon 9000 performs a Super Sampling Anti-Aliasing
algorithm on the geometry details of a given scene and
smoothes the jagged edges or "stair step" effects at the
edge pixels. This method is a Full Scene
Anti-Aliasing approach. Anisotropic Filtering with
the Radeon 9000, is a method of sampling texture detail
more rapidly, thus producing sharper image surface detail.
The Radeon 9000 supports up to 16X Anisotropic Filtering.
Here are examples of both AA and Anisotropic Filtering
The Radeon 9000 Pro brings a lot
of the powerful features we've seen in the Radeon 8500
family and added a few new tweaks and optimizations as well.
By all rights, these changes should give the card a lot of
flexibility to suit the needs of a wide range of users.
Let's take a quick peek at what
the 9700 has to offer.
Radeon 9700, a Quick Look