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Closer Look

We have got two graphics cards based on ATI RADEON 9100 chip from two quite respectable manufacturers – Gigabyte and CP.Technology (they sell under “PowerColor” trademark).

Gigabyte MAYA II RADEON 9100 64MB

 

This card has 64MB DDR SDRAM onboard working at 250MHz (500MHz DDR) with 4ns cycle time. The graphics processor is also clocked at 250MHz. The card is equipped with a traditional RAGE Theater co-processor; here it is responsible for TV-Out.

PowerColor RADEON 9100 128MB (VIVO)

 

This graphics card carries 128MB DDR SDRAM. The frequencies are the same: 250MHz/250MHz (500MHz DDR) for the core and memory respectively. The memory chips have the same 4ns cycle time, but larger capacity than by the Gigabyte’s card. The RAGE Theater co-processor implements Video-In and Video- Out (VIVO) in this card. That’s why it comes with an adapter-splitter to connect to analog signal sources and/or receivers. Among the accompanying software we find CyberLink PowerDirector, which is a video capturing program. Video capture itself is performed by ATI’s WDM drivers that sit on the CD next to the main drivers. MPEG 1, 2 and 4 as well as PAL/NTSC/SECAM standards are all supported. So, you can record AVI files in the ordinary, uncompressed format, or code them on the fly by various codecs supported in the OS. This PowerDirector allows setting it all up and putting to (good) use.

Note also that the second reviewed card copies the RADEON 8500 reference-design: the card has a second RAMDAC (situated left to the graphics chip). Gigabyte’s product, on the contrary, looks like a unique thing developed and designed by the company itself (they even changed the lacquer color from red back into blue, the traditional color of Gigabyte’s graphics cards). And there’s no second RAMDAC. Let us remind you that RADEON 8500 (now called 9100) has only one integrated RAMDAC, the second one is implemented as an independent chip. As you see in the snapshots, the graphics chip has no clear marking and is just labeled by numbers and the word “RADEON”. Its size indicates that it’s the good old RADEON 8500, though.

We won’t go into detailed description of various extra features of RADEON 9100, like TV-out and dual-display configurations support, because we’ve talked about it in our RADEON 8500 related materials (see our Video section for more details). RADEON 9100 brings nothing new here, as might have been expected.

So, let’s go straight to the practical part of our today’s review, that is to testing RADEON 9100 speed characteristics. Recalling some facts, RADEON 8500 used to perform quite differently with 64 and 128MB of graphics memory onboard. This phenomenon had an explanation, though, connected with the memory interleave technology. But those cards used to differ physically: their design was different as well as memory chips (that came in TSOP and BGA packages). Now, we have two nearly identical cards, as far as their design is concerned, but they have 64MB and 128MB of graphics memory. So, we are curious to find out how the RAM amount will affect their performance.

 
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