ATI Radeon 64MB DDR

Nov 13th, 2000 | By

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ATI Radeon 64MB DDR


Date
: 11/13/00 – 06:59:00 PM

Author
:

Category
: Video Cards

Manufactor: ATI Technologies

Price: $290

Thanks to MPL for supplying us with the ATI Radeon 64MB DDR!

Introduction

With all the success that ATI has had in the past, there have been many recent downfalls. Some previous ATI products such as the Rage128 were plagued with not only delayed releases but also poor & buggy drivers. The Rage Fury MAXX had to compete with products from the competitors (like Nvidia, 3Dfx, …) with a lot more performance as a result of these delays. Of course that was enough to keep the real FPS (frames per second) freaks away from ATI products in the recent past & only gain momentum in the OEM and the mobile-chip market.

ATI initially had a pretty good reputation, but I guess ATI itself is to blame about the recent downfalls thanks to the poor & buggy driver support and delayed products. That just wasn’t the thing to do when you got big, extreme performing products like Nvidia’s Geforce (GTS) in the competition.

Luckely for ATI, they have learned from their previous mistakes and have come out with a new contender, the Radeon 256 (codename Rage 6c). Putting the product in the stores at the right time have helped them to steer through the flooded GeForce2 GTS market.

Times seem to be changing for ATI (again), this time (hopefully) for the better …

Specifications

RADEON

Powered by the RADEON graphics processing unit (GPU)

64MB of powerful double data rate (DDR) memory

Featuring ATI’s CHARISMA ENGINE, PIXEL TAPESTRY and VIDEO IMMERSION
technologies

The most robust integrated Transformation, Clipping and Lighting (T&L)

Accelerates all of today’s top 3D games

Industry leading video playback

Video-in/Video-out (VIVO)

Digital Visual Interface (DVI) support available

Supports 3D resolutions (32-bit color) up to 2048×1536

AGP Universal bus (for AGP 2X/4X systems)

Video Capture and TV/VCR-output support

RADEON uses ATI’s RAGE THEATER companion chip for high quality video
encoding and decoding

Full motion video-capture in raw AVI format at 320×240, MPEG-1 compressions at 320×240, MPEG-2 compressions at 640×480 and still image capture

Use video-out to connect your PC to TV or VCR for recording

The ENGINE

CHARISMA ENGINE supports full Transformation, Clipping and Lighting (T&L) at 30 million triangles/second peak processing capability for a 10-fold improvement in 3D details

Features ATI’s HYPER Z compression technology for improved performance

3D game characters are brought to life with cutting-edge character animation such as vertex skinning and key frame interpolation

PIXEL TAPESTRY, the RADEON 3D rendering engine, powers an incredible 1.5
Gigatexels per second for unsurpassed graphics performance

DVD Video Playback

ATI’s VIDEO IMMERSION engine allows for adaptive de-interlacing for best quality motion video and text

Process full-frame rate, full-screen DVD or MPEG-2 video

Hardware DVD saves the expense of buying a separate MPEG-2/DVD decoder card and motion compensation allows for DVD decoding with minimum CPU usage

HDTV ready

DVI Interface for Flat Panel Support

RADEON features an integrated TMDS transmitter to support digital flat panels

Get all of the incredible 3D and DVD of RADEON with the benefit of flat panels – crisper images, true flat screen, significantly reduced eyestrain and space savings

System Requirements

Intel Pentium II/III/Celeron, AMD K6/Athlon or compatible with AGP 2X or AGP 2X/4X universal slot

Installation software requires CD-ROM drive

DVD playback requires DVD drive

Graphics Controller

RADEON graphics processing unit (GPU)

Memory Configurations

64MB of double data rate memory

Operating Systems support

Windows 98/98SE

Windows Me

Windows 2000

Monitor Support

CRT Monitor: 15 pin VGA connector

TV and VCR: S-Video or Composite connector

Register compatible with VGA

BIOS compatible with VESA for super VGA

DDC1/2b/2b+ monitor support

VESA Display Power Management Support

Separate horizontal and vertical synchronization at TTL levels

3D Acceleration Features

CHARISMA ENGINE

HYPER Z technology

PIXEL TAPESTRY architecture

VIDEO IMMERSION technology

Integrated Transformation, Clipping and Lighting

Twin Cache Architecture

Superscalar Rendering

Single-Pass Multi-texturing

True Color Rendering

Triangle Setup Engine

Texture Cache

Bilinear/Trilinear Filtering

Line & Edge Anti-aliasing

Full-Screen Anti-aliasing

Texture Compositing

Texture Decompression

Specular Highlights

Perspectively Correct Texture Mapping

Mip-Mapping

Z-buffering and Double-buffering

Emboss, Dot Product 3 and Environment bump mapping

Spherical, Dual-Paraboloid and Cubic environment mapping

Fog effects, texture lighting, video textures, reflections, shadows, spotlights, LOD biasing and texture morphing

WARRANTY

5-year limited warranty

The specs in detail :

ATi has done well in utilizing many of todays upcoming features. This wide feature list allows the Radeon to stand above the competition when they are used in future games through DirectX 8.
If these rather futuristic features will be really useful or not will depend on the game developers.
ATI has used the terms ‘Charisma Engine’ and ‘Pixel Tapestry’ to describe their feature list which would increase the detail level and the realism of the characters and the environments with no or very little loss of performance.

The Radeon supports all (three) kinds of bump mapping (emboss, dot product 3 and environmental mapped). This adds a great strength to this card as upcoming games will use a mixture of these techniques to be able to supply the user with some great looking graphics with very high complexity.

The Radeon also supports and accelerates all (three) environment-mapping techniques (spherical environment mapping, dual-paraboloid environment mapping and cube environment mapping) which will also be used by game developers in the near future.

The new GPU will carry 6 TMUs, 3 for each pixel-pipeline, which is definately an improvement over its competitors, which will only be using 2 TMU. … If you’re thinking: ‘What the hell did he just say?’, here’s my explanation in human language … When your video card is rendering images for games, cards like the GeForce2 GTS has to pass the a pixel 6 times through its pipelines to accomplish the task compared to Radeon’s 4 passes. This results in a much more effective use of fill-rate and memory bandwith.

And last but certainly not least : The HYPER Z technology

ATI’s Hyper Z technology enables compression of the data going to the Z-buffer and sorts out any unnecessary polygons so that objects that arent visible to the viewer arent rendered. (Why didn’t I think of that before? :)
ATI claims that by using only this technology, they can boost the effective memory bandwidth by about 20%.

First Impressions :

The Radeon provides us with many state of the art features which boost performance very well compared to previous ATI cards. The GPU and memory speeds have been lowered from its original values (200/200 MHz) to 183/183 MHz. The card also features fast DDR RAM. Radeon boards will boast anything between 1.1 and 1.5 Gigatexels per second with a memory bandwidth of about 5 or 6 Gigabytes per second (thanx to their Hyper Z technology).
There’s nothing special or unusual that can be said about the card’s physical look.

The Radeon 256 GPU is located in the center of the card and near the Rage Theatre chip, which provides the Radeon’s outstanding MPEG decoding performance.

ATI has decided to use 5.5 ns Hyundai DDR RAM modules in the 64MB DDR board. They have also equiped to board with an active fan to transfer heat out of the heat sink.

Overclocking :

With the small die size (0.18) and so a relatively low heat level, the Radeon surely is the card for overclockers. Heat isn’t the limiting factor anymore. ‘Then what is?’, you might ask. I think the Hyundai DDR RAM modules might do the limiting here. With to use of Powerstrip, I was able to overclock my Radeon core to 220Mhz which is 35Mhz above normal shipping speed. Overclocking the memory was less successful, I did got the Radeon’s DDR RAM speed up to 200Mhz for an effective memory clock speed of 400 MHz.

Let’s take a look on how well or bad this beast performs ….

Benchmarks, Testing and Torturing :

TEST SYSTEM :

SYSTEM SPECS :
CPU Intel P3-700E @ 980Mhz (7x140Mhz)
Mainboard Asus CUV4X
Chipset Via Apollo Pro 133A
Video ATI Radeon 64MB DDR
Memory 128MB PC133 (2-3-3-5)
Harddisk IBM 20GB UDMA66 @ 7200RPM
OS Win ME

Quake 3 Arena 1.17 Timedemo 1

First a comparison @ 16 BIT …

The least we can say is that the 16bit-performance of the Radeon is very weak. As you can see, the card can’t even pass the GeForce 256 DDR, which can already be considered as an old generation 3D card.

Then @ 32 BIT …

After I saw these results, I was pretty amazed … Because of the very poor 16bit-performance, I didn’t even dare to hope that the 32bit-performance would be better on the Radeon than on the GeForce. But as the graphic shows, the Radeon does a better job on high resolutions than the GeForce. The conclusion about this test is that there is no noticeable difference in FPS between 16 & 32-bit color with the Radeon.

3D Mark 2k :

3DMark2k default benchmark
1024×768 16bit 5433

This 3DMark result was to be expected after the previous Quake 3 tests, as this 3DMark test was at 16-bit color which just istn’t the Radeon’s favorite colordepth.

All this shows that the Radeon is ready to take on some tough competition, as long as it is at 32-bit color.

Pros :

- Excellent 2D quality

- Video in/out capabilities

- Video acceleration

- Amazing 3D acceleration (especially @ 32-bit color)

- Cheaper than the competition

Cons :

- Some minor driver issues

- Not well documented

- Poor 16-bit performance

Conclusion :

Technologies like Hyper Z have pushed this card’s performance close to this of the GeForce family of cards. Especially at higher resolutions and at higher color depths, there are no questions about its performance. The VIVO capabilities that were added to this, already cute, card have paid off in terms of value and quality.

Unlike past ATI-products’ drivers, the Radeon drivers are stable and have very few bugs. With much lower price than the competition and a wonderfull card with futuristic technologies and great performance, ATI might have itself a true winner here!

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