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XGI Volari: Closer Look

Now let’s take a look at the features of the new Volari solution from XGI. In this case we are going to talk about the top model in the family: V8 Ultra, because the Club3D Volari Duo V8 Ultra is based on two chips like that. Since the developer positions this solution as the most expensive and powerful one, we will compare it with the competitors’ High-End solutions.

 

ATI RADEON 9800

Club 3D Volari Duo V8 Ultra

NVIDIA GeForce FX 5950

Manufacturing technology

0.15micron

0.13 micron

0.13micron

Number of transistors

110-115mln

80mln

135mln

Chip frequency

412MHz

2x350MHz

475MHz

Graphics memory controller

256bit
DDR SDRAM

2x128bit
DDR-II SDRAM

256bit
DDR SDRAM

Graphics memory frequency

730MHz
(365MHz DDR)

900MHz
(450MHz DDR-II)

950MHz
(475MHz DDR)

Peak memory bus bandwidth

23.4GB/s

28.8GB/s

30.4GB/s

Max graphics memory size

256MB

512MB

256MB

AGP interface

AGP 3.0 4x/8x

AGP 3.0 4x/8x

AGP 3.0 4x/8x

Pixel Pipelines, Pixel Shaders

Pixel pipelines

8

2x8

4, 8

Texturing unites per pipeline

1

1

2, 0

Max number of textures during multi-texturing

8

8?

8

Texture filtering types

bi-linear
anisotropic
tri-linear
tri-linear + anisotropic

bi-linear
anisotropic
tri-linear
tri-linear + anisotropic

bi-linear
anisotropic
tri-linear
tri-linear + anisotropic

Max anisotropy level

16

4

8

Pixel shaders version

v.2.0 (f-buffer, v2.0+)

v2.0

v.2.0+

Branching, subroutines and loops

none

n/a

none

Max number of textures per shader

16

16

16

Max number of texture instructions

32

n/a

1024

Max number of arithmetic instructions

64 (+64)

n/a

1024

Max number of instructions per shader

96 (+64)

n/a

1024

Registers

2 color registers,
32 constant registers,
8 texture coordinates registers,
16 TMU identification registers,
12 temporary registers,
4 resulting color registers,
1 resulting Z register

?

2 color registers,
512 (1024) constant registers,
8 texture coordinates registers,
16 TMU identification registers,
16 (32) temporary registers,
4 resulting color registers,
1 resulting Z register

Data representation formats

Fixed point,
16bit floating point,
32bit floating point

Fixed point,
16bit floating point,
32bit floating point

Fixed point,
16bit floating point,
32bit floating point

Internal Pixel Shader Pipeline Precision

96bit pixel precision/24bit floating point precision

?

128bit pixel precision/32bit floating point precision, 16bit floating point precision

Vertex pipelines, vertex shaders

Vertex pipelines

4

2x2

3

Vertex shaders version

v.2.0

v.2.0

v.2.0+

Branching, subroutines and loops

Static

Static?

Dynamic

Max number of instructions per shader

256

256

256

Max number of instructions with loops extension

65536

65536

65536

Registers

16 input registers,
12 temporary registers,
256 constant floating-point registers,
16 constant integer registers,
16 Boolean registers,
1 address register,
1 loops counter register,
8 output registers for texture coordinates,
1 fog color output register,
1 vertex position output register,
1 pixel size output register,
2 output registers for diffuse/mirror color component

n/a

16 input registers,
16 temporary registers,
256 constant floating-point registers,
256 constant integer registers,
256 Boolean registers,
1 address register,
1 loops counter register,
8 output registers for texture coordinates,
1 fog color output register,
1 vertex position output register,
1 pixel size output register,
2 output registers for diffuse/mirror color component

Data representation formats

32bit floating-point

 

32bit floating-point

Full-Scene Anti-Aliasing

FSAA methods

Rotated grid multi-sampling
(RGMS)

Supersampling?

Supersampling,
Ordered grid multi-sampling

(OGSS, OGMS)

Number of samples

2, 4, 6

2,4

2 (OGSS, OGMS),
Quincunx,
4 (OGSS, OGMS, OGSS+OGMS),
6 (OGSS+OGMS),
8 (OGSS+OGMS)

Technologies aimed at higher memory bandwidth efficiency

Hidden Surfaces Removal (HSR)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Frame-buffer compression

Yes

n/a

Yes

Z-buffer compression

Yes

n/a

Yes

Other techniques

Yes

Yes

Yes

Well, everything looks quite impressive, I should say. The only exception is probably the 4x maximum anisotropic filtering mode – it is not that cool for the end of 2003-beginning 2004. Other than that, this is a pretty common set of features for the graphics accelerator compatible with DirectX 9. The VPU working frequency is not impressively high, especially compared with that of GeForce FX 5950 Ultra, however, Volari is equipped with two VPUs instead of one, so it should make up for this drawback. Anyway, let’s take a closer look at the Club3D graphics card on XGI chips.

Technocratic Monument: Club3D Volari Duo V8 Ultra Graphics Card

We received this product in the full retail package including a colorful box designed in minimalistic-aristocratic style typical of this particular VGA card maker. Unlike the package designed for RADEON 9800 PRO (see our article called Club3D RADEON 9800 PRO: European Finest Graphics Card?), the today’s one was decorated with a blue stripe instead of the red one, which indicated that the graphics card inside the box is based on an XGI chip:

Well, this is a pretty simple and nice way of informing the user about the graphics chip maker the product is based on. By the way, Club3D graphics cards on S3 DeltaChrome chip will be packed in boxes marked with white stripes.

The card itself looks more than respectful. If I am not mistaken I had a similar feeling when I first saw some products from Leadtek. But Club3D Volari Duo V8 Ultra went even farther:

 

Here is a list of items I found inside the box:

  • User’s guide;
  • DVI-I-to-D-Sub converter;
  • VIVO splitter;
  • S-Video cable;
  • RCA cable;
  • A set of spare retention parts for the cooler;
  • Club3D brand name sticker (for the PC case);
  • CD-disc with the drivers;
  • CD-disc with 3DNA software (3D Windows);
  • CD-disc with CyberLink PowerDirector 2.0 ME software;
  • CD-disc with InterVideo WinDVD 4 player.

Despite the first impression, the PCB of this graphics accelerator is only 5mm longer than that of the GeForce FX 5950 Ultra card. This is why all the electronic components are located so close to one another on the PCB, as XGI developers managed to fit here two graphics processors with their power supply circuitry and half of all memory chips.

 
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