Articles: Graphics

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Historically, the Radeon X1900 XTX was released by ATI Technologies in response to Nvidia’s GeForce 7800 GTX 512 which had earlier proved its superiority over the ATI Radeon X1800 XT. ATI took an original approach to increasing the performance of the flagship product in the Radeon X1000 series which has come to be known as the 3-to-1 concept. The point of this concept is explained in our review of the Radeon X1900 XTX called The Fast and Furious: ATI Radeon X1900 XTX Review, but we want to repeat it in brief here. ATI holds that this ratio of arithmetic to textural operations is optimal and promises the highest possible performance in modern games since there is a clear tendency among game developers to maker wider use of math1ematically complex shaders to create various special effects.

This is very true nowadays when quite a lot of projects are developed for several platforms, for the PC and for a variety of gaming consoles (Microsoft’s Xbox and Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 2 and 3). Even last-generation consoles have a small amount of memory in comparison with modern PCs, so the developers have to do without high-resolutions textures that require a lot of memory to be stored. One and the most popular way to make a game’s visuals appealing is to employ pixel shaders with complex math1ematical computations. Such shaders don’t require too much memory, but use the GPU’s execution units to the full, thus providing spectacular visual effects at a rather low cost. Shader-based effects in combination with a rather low resolution the game consoles work with allow using lower-quality textures. From this point of view, ATI’s putting more pixel shader processors into its recent GPUs looks justifiable and compatible with game developers’ plans.

The ATI R580 GPU was the result of this strategy. It inherited all the features of the R520, but was endowed with 48 rather than 16 pixel processors. The pure computational power of the new GPU thus grew by 300%, although it only had 20% more transistors than the older chip. The new GPU also acquired a large Z-buffer, a few more general-purpose registers, and a Fetch4 feature to accelerate the rendering of shadows. All this helped the Radeon X1900 XTX become the fastest top-end graphics solution with a good reserve for the future and with high performance in existing games. In our review the new flagship product from ATI beat the GeForce 7800 GTX 512 in almost each and every gaming test.

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