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ATi Radeon 9700 Pro Review - Architecture

We've been hearing all kinds of good things so far concerning the new ATi Radeon 9700 series graphics cards, but can it possibly live up to all the hype? Come join Tio Chaharbaghi as he takes a look at this beast and tells us once and for all if it has what it takes to become the next champ, or the next chump!

| AMD Radeon GPU in Video Cards | Posted: Sep 14, 2002 4:00 am
TweakTown Rating: 9.5%      Manufacturer: ATi

Architecture

 

9700 Visual processing unit

 

The foundation of the ATi 9700 Pro is the visual processing unit, also known as the VPU. According to ATi, the features of this newly designed VPU are: fully floating point pipeline, floating point precision needed to run equations of physics in the VPU, and raw performance to allow real-time effects. Before there were separate parts to ATi's cards that would process each section (graphics, video and image processing). The new VPU integrates all three into one VPU.

 

AGP 8X

 

The Radeon 9700 Pro is one of the first cards to support AGP 8X. Using the AGP 8X bus, this allows a large volume of texture and vertex data to be transferred faster from the system memory to the chip. For those of you who don't know what an AGP bus does, let me sum it up for you. It basically carries a bunch of data between the video card and the computer. For example things like 3d models, textures, shaders etc. Below you will find the bandwidth differences of every AGP bus since 1x.

 

 

As you can see above, AGP 8X is around double AGP 4x, which you find on the last batch of video cards. Will we see a performance difference? That is a question that needs to be answered with an AGP 8X motherboard.

 

Memory interface

 

According to ATi, the new Radeon 9700 Pro video card has a new 256-bit DDR memory interface that supports up to 20 GB of bandwidth per second. It also includes four independent 64-bit memory channels which can all together write data to the memory or read data back to the main graphics processor (VPU).

 

HYPER Z III

 

Doesn't Hyper Z sound familiar? Ever since the Radeon series, this technology has been incorporated over three generations. Exclusive to ATi, this bandwidth saving technology is the main role that allows the 9700 Pro to reach high levels of rendering performance. In short terms, the goal of Hyper Z technology is to reduce the memory bandwidth consumed by the Z-Buffer, thereby increasing performance.

 

Vertex processing engine

 

In general, a 3D scene is composed of interlocking groups of triangles that make up all visible surfaces. The vertex processing engine can place, orient, animate, color, and light every object and surface that needs to be drawn. According to ATi, the Radeon 9700 Pro features the most powerful vertex processing engine ever designed, incorporating four parallel vertex shader pipelines. It also seems that the 9700 Pro is the first chip capable of processing one vertex and one triangle per clock cycle.

 

Truform 2.0

 

Truform 2.0 is another exclusive technology to ATi. It is designed to smooth out the curved surfaces of 3D characters, objects and terrain by increasing the polygon count through a process ATi calls "tessellation". With the 9700 Pro, it is possible to have more natural looking 3D scenes without having to change any existing artwork.

 

3D Rendering Engine

 

The Radeon 9700 Pro just keeps becoming the first for everything! Once again, the 9700 Pro is the first graphics card to be able to render up to eight pixels simultaneously. According to ATi, this is accomplished by eight parallel 128-bit rendering pipelines, each with its own independent texture unit and pixel shader engine. Basically, at the present time, the Radeon 9700 Pro is thus fully prepared for any game/application 3D environments you throw at it.

 

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