We still to have to find out performance of the Radeon HD 2900 XTX in real-world games and cannot make any final conclusions now. However, we can already state certain things about the newcomer, which was expected to emerge back in the Q4 2006, but was delayed by nearly half a year.
ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT is here, it works; it has unified shader architecture; it has over 700 million transistors, an absolute record to date; it features 512-bit memory bus, for the first time with the industry; it supports many interesting features and technologies; but it also has drivers that need to be improved to utilize the new promising features and its has only 16 texture units, which limits performance even in synthetic 3D benchmarks.
The main advantage of ATI Radeon HD 2000 is exceptional computing power of all chips as well as modular design, something, which may allow the company to rapidly create new chips based on common building blocks – 5D scalar shader processors, texture processors and render back end processors. But if it takes the company another year before it boosts performance of its performance mainstream, mainstream and entry-level chips, the scenario that happened with transition from the Radeon X1600 XT to Radeon X1950 Pro, AMD risks to lose market share to Nvidia, who is consistently sticking to its policy of renewing the product lines every two quarters.
The new full-scene antialiasing methods look promising, but not all of them are ideal to say at least, as in certain cases we see substantial blur over our screenshots, which is unacceptable in the year 2007, when games tend to feature textures with a lot of small details as well as micro-geometry. We hope that ATI’s adaptive edge detect filter antialiasing will bring the new image quality heights into consumer 3D graphics.
Another potentially good thing about the Radeon HD 2000 is built-in hardware tesselator, similar to tesselator inside Xbox 360 GPU, which may catalyze game developers to take advantage of it and games will look more detailed on ATI Radeon HD 2000 graphics cards.
Multimedia features of the Radeon HD 2000 family also look promising, but, unfortunately, AMD/ATI unified video decoder should yet to be fully implemented into drivers. Even though the chip now officially supports decoding of VC-1 as well as features audio controller for audio data transmission over HDMI, the lack of certain software features make such capabilities useless for now.
Finally, despite of the fact that power consumption of $399 graphics card is not a really important factor to consider and around 160W is not really a lot for modern power supply units, cooling system that produces rather loud nice is something that should definitely be corrected on commercial Radeon HD 2900 XT graphics cards.