So, the new RADEON X800 graphics processors from ATI Technologies demonstrated themselves as extremelly powerful rivals for the high-end of NVIDIA GeForce 6-series graphics products.
The top-of-the-line $499 RADEON X800 XT appeared to be faster compared to its main competitor – the GeForce 6800 Ultra – in plethora of applications where it was pretty natual to expect – the games that broadly use complex geometry and loads of math1-intensive pixel shaders. Additionally, the new graphics processors from ATI Technologies are also getting performance advantages over the rivalling NVIDIA’s solution when full-scene antialiasing and anisotropic filtering are switched on – that’s because of the new HyperZ HD technology that maximizes the efficiency of memory bandwidth utilization as well as because of high-performance anisotropic filtering method.
A little bit less speedy flavour of the R420 – the RADEON X800 PRO – that has only 12 pixel pipelines and clocked at lower speeds undoubtedly demonstrate an excellent performance rise over the previous generation RADEON 9800 XT and the GeForce FX 5950 Ultra hardware. But the final conclusion about this one should still be put on hold, as NVIDIA has not finalized specification of its $399 product. This is a kind of funny, but the RADEON X800 PRO is expected to be available in retail instantly, making the process of choice at $399 price-point pretty tricky, as the actual performance comparison with competing solution from NVIDIA is still to see the light of the day.
Regrettably for the Markham, Ontario-based company, due to some drawbacks with efficient texturing in the new VPUs from ATI, NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra manages to beat the rival in games where high fillrate and rapid texturing are important.
Furthermore, NVIDIA still has some more trumps in its hands. Firstly, the company’s GeForce 6800 Ultra GPU is able to calculate up to 32 Z/stencil values per pass, therefore, games that heavily use Z or stencil buffers for generation dynamic shadows will have loads of chances to run faster on NVIDIA’s hardware. Secondly, eventually game developers may implement Shaders 3.0 into their titles for the purposes of performance optimization, which will also boost the speed on NVIDIA’s latest hardware that supports the Shader Model 3.0, a capability that seems to be trimmed on the ATI’s RADEON X800 XT and X800 PRO.
Unfortunately for NVIDIA, right now there are no games that actually use the shaders 3.0 and there is also no DirectX 9.0c that will actually switch on the support for the SM 3.0. With that said, we should probably let the time to say its last word in the cruel battle between the R420 and the NV40 technologies, but based on current numbers achieved in benchmarks we believe that the RADEON X800 XT clearly packs the punch over the competitor in terms of performance in applications that use shaders 2.0/2.x and are available today.