Graphics Cards with 512MB Memory are Faster than 256MB Boards – ATI Technologies [UPDATED]

ATI Claims Even Current Games Take Advantage of 512MB Frame-Buffers

by Anton Shilov
02/28/2005 | 02:16 AM

UPDATE: Correcting test settings of the graphics cards.


ATI Technologies demonstrated during the weekend a slide that illustrated performance advantage the company’s graphics cards with 512MB of memory have over those that feature 256MB of memory onboard. The company said the enlarged local buffer is capable of boosting performance in “the most strenuous settings”.

“The resource requirements of games are increasing rapidly. Making a new, unique and awesome looking game these days involves creation of gigabytes of art work for models and textures. Techniques like normal map based lighting and bump-mapping techniques have become common place in cutting edge games like Doom III, FarCry and Half-Life 2. These normal maps are typical high resolution and do chew up a lot of memory. Techniques such as 3Dc help alleviate the problem, but I can see games next year [the year 2005, a note from X-bit labs] that will easily overflow 256MB frame-buffer with all the details turned up,” a statement from Raja Koduri, an ATI hardware architect reads.

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According to an ATI’s slide, which was published by web-site, popular current generation 3D games, such as Doom III, FarCry and Half-Life 2, can get up to 24%, 38% and 52% performance increase because of 512MB frame-buffer over 256MB graphics cards respectively in selected demo sequences run at the highest settings possible today – 1600x1200 with 6x full-scene antialiasing and 16x anisotropic filtering. In a number of cases shown performance of visual processing unit (VPU) still mattered more than memory and the demos could not achieve comfortable frame-rate. Still, very few cases are likely to actually benefit from additional memory.

ATI used RADEON X850 XT 256MB and X850 XT 512MB to showcase the advantage of larger local buffer. The company’s slides also demonstrated that the RADEON X850 XT 512MB outperformed higher-speed RADEON X850 XT Platinum Edition 256MB.

ATI Technologies, the world’s largest supplier of graphics and multimedia processors, demonstrated its graphics cards with 512MB of onboard memory at the Texas Gaming Festival in Dallas, February 25th to 27th, 2004.

The world’s first 512MB graphics card was powered by ATI’s latest RADEON X850 XT visual processing unit (VPU) with 16 pixel and 6 vertex pipelines clocked at 520MHz. The graphics card’s 512MB of GDDR3 SDRAM operate at 1080MHz speed and have 256-bit memory interface. The RADEON X850 XT 512MB used 256Mb GDDR3 memory chips from Samsung, not recently introduced 512Mb devices.

ATI explained that the RADEON X850 XT 512MB graphics cards were intended to demonstrate the next-generation capability to gamers and then send the similar boards to game developers. The company declined to comment whether the firm’s next-breed of graphics cards powered by the upcoming code-named R520 VPU would have 512MB of memory onboard, even though this would be a logical projection for the company’s roadmap. ATI Technologies indicated it was considering commercial RADEON X850 512MB products for PCI Express x16 bus, but the final decision has not been made.