ATi 9700 Pro - IntroductionIntroductionOver the last few years, only one chipmaker has been able to dominate the market with their line of graphic chipsets, nVidia. The closest competitor they had was the Canadian based company ATi. As the GeForce 2 line was rolling out, ATi started getting serious by releasing the Radeon series. The result? The ATi Radeon coming up short.As the GeForce 3 line started hitting the market, ATi finally released their 8500 line of video cards. The Result? ATi coming up short again. Would a moment come where ATi would have at least a quarter of dominance?A month and a half ago, ATi finally came to the table with a graphic chipset that would blow the world away. On July 17th 2002, on display in San Francisco, CA, ATi showed off their new Radeon 9700 Pro based on the R300 core.nVidia releases there GeForce 4 Ti series, ATi releases the 9700/9000 Pro line a while later. The Result? A new king of performance has been crowned. ATi has finally grasped the graphic market by its hand, and won't be letting go for at least 4-6 months. Where is nVidia's answer?According to various sources, nVidia's "answer" has been delayed until late 4th quarter 2002/1st quarter 2003. These sources state that it seems nVidia is having trouble making the transition to 0.13 micron chips. Note that the 9700 is based on the 0.15 micron and ATi is still trying to squeeze out every MHz until they make their transition to the 0.13 micron chip in early Q1 2003.Today, in the newly opened Canadian Tweak Town Labs, we will be taking a look at ATi's newest creation; the ATi 9700 Pro. We will take you through information about the card, a technological background and of course benchmarks.
ATi 9700 Pro - SpecificationsSystem RequirementsRadeon 9700 Pro requires connection to your PC's internal power supply for operation. A 300-watt power supply or greater is recommended to ensure normal system operation where a number of other internal devices are installed.Intel Pentium 4/III/II/Celeron, AMD K6/Duron/Athlon/Athlon XP or compatible with AGP 2X (3.3v), 4X (1.5V), 8X (0.8v) or Universal AGP 3.0 bus configuration (2X/4X/8X).128MB of system memoryInstallation software requires CD-ROM driveDVD playback requires DVD driveGraphics TechnologyRADEON 9700 Pro Visual Processing Unit (VPU)Memory Configuration128MB of double data rate SDRAMOperating Systems SupportWindows XPWindows 2000Windows MeDisplay SupportVGA connector for analog CRTS-video or composite connector for TV / VCRDVI-I connector for digital CRT or flat panelIndependent resolutions and refresh rates for any two connected displaysFeaturesEight parallel rendering pipelinesFour parallel geometry engines256-bit DDR memory interfaceAGP 8X supportSMARTSHADER 2.0
- Programmable pixel and vertex shaders16 textures per passPixel shaders up to 160 instructions with 128-bit floating point precisionVertex shaders up to 1024 instructions with flow controlMultiple render target supportShadow volume rendering accelerationHigh precision 10-bit per channel frame buffer supportSupports DirectX 9.0 and the latest version of OpenGL
- 2x/4x/6x full scene anti-aliasing modesAdaptive algorithm with programmable sample patterns2x/4x/8x/16x anisotropic filtering modesAdaptive algorithm with bi-linear (performance) and tri-linear (quality) options
- 3-level Hierarchical Z-Buffer with early Z testLossless Z-Buffer compression (up to 24:1)Fast Z-Buffer Clear
- 2nd generation N-Patch higher order surface supportDiscrete and continuous tessellation levels per polygonDisplacement mapping
- Seamless integration of pixel shaders with videoFULLSTREAM video de-blocking technologyNoise removal filtering for captured video
ATi 9700 Pro - ArchitectureArchitecture9700 Visual processing unitThe 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 8XThe 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.
ATi 9700 Pro - The Visual AspectSmartshader 2.0Smartshader 2.0 is the second generation of ATi's programmable vertex and pixel shader technology. This new revision is designed to be much more powerful and flexible than the first generation of shader technology (found on the 8500 series). With Smartshader 2.0, it is possible for developers to take real time movie effects and incorporate them in games for a great looking 3D environment. Smartshader 2.0 also adds the ability to accelerate the very latest 2.0 vertex and 2.0 pixel shaders that are incorporated into a growing list of 3D game titles.
ATi 9700 Pro - Video AspectFULLSTREAMATi's FULLSTREAM is the latest advancement in industry leading video processing technology. In a nutshell, FULLSTREAM is a hardware accelerated filter that helps improve the performance and visual quality of internet streaming video (Real Player feeds, Media Player feeds etc). Usually, traditional block based videos (e.g. MPEG) are encoded and delivered to their users with insufficient bandwidth and they also suffer from block artifacts. This is basically where FULLSTREAM comes in. According to ATi, FULLSTREAM intelligently detects the edge of these visible blocks and smoothes them over using a multi-tap filtering technique. The result to all this is a smoother, higher quality video and a much more enjoyable visual experience.
ATi 9700 Pro - Packaging/LayoutThe Box
ATi 9700 Pro - TestingBenchmarksIsn't this what you all have been waiting for? It better be because I have a feeling everyone's jaw will drop.Test SetupPentium 4 2.53B GHz 533 FSBEPoX 4BDA2+ Motherboard512 MB DDR PC2100IBM 20 GIG DTLA 3050 ATA 100 Hard DriveATi Radeon 9000 ProATi Radeon 9700 PronVidia GeForce 4 Ti4600Windows XP ProfessionalDirect X 8.1
ATi 9700 Pro - AA/AF PerformanceQuake III at 1024x768 32-bit will be used to test AA and AF performance. We decided to use this benchmark for AA since it is such a worldwide benchmark that everyone can relate to.Anti-Aliasing Performance
ATi 9700 Pro - ConclusionConclusionIn conclusion, ATi has gone all out to prove to everyone that a new king has been crowned when it comes to graphic cards. It has out performed its rivals in almost every benchmark (other the Comanche 4) and has slaughtered them in terms of AF/AA.How much does this card retail for? It retails at a quite pricey MSRP US$399. This is the only down fall to this superb card. Unless you have $400 just lying around, don't even think of purchasing this card.Is it worth it? Myself, as an enthusiast, would definitely say it's worth it. It gives me all the performance I dreamed of in a graphics card. You get the best performance, awesome 2D quality and even Video output features. This is the card you want in your so-called "bad-ass" rig. Is it worth it for the occasional gamer? It's not at all worth it. Think of it this way, if you are an occasional gamer who plays at 800x600, do you really even need this card? Why couldn't you settle for a budget card? ATi also provides budget based cards for those who don't have that much loose change in there pockets and who only play games every once and while (Card such as the ATi Radeon 9000 Pro).ATi has definitely put their foot down in the graphics market. How long will it last though? That is a question that can only be truly answered by the only rival that ATi has...nVidia. So everyone enjoy these couple months of glory and expect a war when 2003 comes along.- ProsFast CardGreat Visual QualityAwesome AF/AA performance- ConsPriceRating - 9.5/10 and TweakTown's Editors Choice Award
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