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ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT graphics card undeniably has a lot of interesting capabilities, as we revealed in our article dedicated to the architecture of the Radeon HD 2000, the long-awaited sixth-generation of ATI’s Radeon. We also discovered several weak points of the new solution by the graphics product group of Advanced Micro Devices, but how will they affect real-world performance? We will find it out later in this article, but before that, let us remind you several key peculiarities of the Radeon HD 2000, certain facts about the Radeon HD 2900 XT as well as several findings about the new graphics card.

ATI Radeon HD 2000 Architecture:

  • ATI Radeon HD 2000 architecture is fully unified and is fully compatible with DirectX 10 requirements. Since the latter are very strict, neither AMD/ATI, nor Nvidia can skip certain features, like it happened with the previous-generation DirectX 9.0 shader model 3.0 Radeon X1000 hardware.
  • ATI Radeon HD 2000 architecture seems to be easily scalable and we can expect AMD to fairly quickly leverage it to across different market segment and tailor new chips according to market requirements. Nevertheless, it should be kept in mind that the new-generation ultra-threaded dispatch processor along with other logic necessary for proper implementation of the unified shader architecture is pretty complex and it may be uneasy for AMD to introduce new DX10 chips shortly from now.
  • ATI’s new graphics architecture also introduces new programmable tesselator, a unique hardware feature of the Radeon HD 2000, which destiny remains unclear so far.
  • AMD’s graphics product group introduced several new full-scene antialiasing modes for the Radeon HD 2000: custom filter antialiasing and adaptive edge-detect antialiasing. But while the latter does not work with current drivers, the former blurs the image.
  • ATI improved Avivo technology and render back end units, however, the company continues not to put a lot of attention to texturing capabilities, something, which may limit performance in actual games.

ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT Graphics Card:

  • ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT 512MB graphics card has manufacturer suggested recommended price (MSRP) of $399 and is not positioned against Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTX or Ultra, but against the GTS model.
  • ATI code-named R600 graphics processing units has unprecedented amount of transistors – over 700 million. Even though the new graphics processing unit (GPU) is produced using 80nm process technology, it consumes unprecedented amount of energy – over 160W.
  • ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT graphics cards’ drivers/cooling-system currently cannot slow-down itself after 3D applications under certain hardware/software setup, which means pretty uncomfortable experience for end-users.
  • The new graphics card has, for the first time in history, 512-bit memory bus. Unfortunately for AMD/ATI, either poor drivers or limited amount of rater operation units do not allow the Radeon HD 2900 XT to demonstrate really high results in Half-Life 2: Episode One game with FSAA enabled.
  • ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT demonstrated nice performance in math1ematically-intensive cases, but due to limitations caused by its current implementation (lack of enough texture units, render back ends, etc.), as well as current state of drivers, it did not demonstrate any breakthroughs with current-generation DirectX 9-compatible applications.
  • AMD gives out three video games – Half-Life 2: Episode Two, Team Fortress and Portal – along with its new flagship graphics card, which increases its value.
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