Every new graphics feature and technology introduced by any vendor is a big event for all hardware enthusiasts and observers since all get very excited about the novelty. Every new announcement seems as a very significant even though it brings us nothing really new, but performance increases. In general, most of announcements on the GPU and CPU fields bring us more illusions rather than innovations.
The GeForce2 GTS and derivatives made it big, even though they were speed bumps of the original revolutionary GeForce256 with the first ever hardware T&L back in 1999. The RADEON 8500 and the GeForce4 Ti were nice at some point, but the true revolution was the GeForce3. The GeForce FX was the second DirectX 9.0-supporting GPU and that is why it also did not bring a revolution for us, unlike the RADEON 9700 and 9500. Those pioneers, who made it here first are usually considered as the milestones of the industry.
Today another chipset milestone was reached: ATI RADEON 9100 IGP that brings graphics programmability and DirectX 8.1 capabilities to the segment of low-cost personal computers was formally announced. A little bit more than two years after the big graphics fever GeForce3 appeared and a little bit less than 2 years since the RADEON 8500 emerged, users of very cheap personal computers are able to enjoy the same 3D capabilities.
The RADEON 9100 IGP and its mobile brethren MOBILITY RADEON 9100 IGP support all desktop and mobile Intel Socket 478/479 processors with 400, 533 and 800MHz Quad Pumped Bus with or without Hyper-Threading technology and including the upcoming Prescott CPUs. Besides, the DirectX 8.1 integrated pioneers boast with advanced capabilities, such as In-Order Queue (IOQ) depth of 12, Dynamic Bus Inversion (DBI) and system bus interrupt delivery. For those, who are not enough the integrated graphics processor, external AGP 8x is offered.
ATI’s newly released parts also boast with dual-channel PC3200 DDR SDRAM memory support providing up to 6.40GB/s theoretical peak memory bandwidth. According to sources among mainboard manufacturers, single-channel RADEON 9100 IGP may also make its appearance later this year. ATI’s latest chipsets can be equipped with up to 4GB of memory, just like Intel’s i875P and i865-series, with up to 128MB allocated for frame-buffer. The biggest advantage of the RADEON 9100 IGP is probably its graphics core that is based on the RADEON 9200 architecture and supports DirectX 8.1 features in addition to HyperZ technologies to ensure memory bandwidth is used more effectively. Additionally FSAA and Anisotropic Filtering support is implemented. We still have to find out whether the RADEON 9200 graphics core is implemented in its full glory or only partly in order to reduce all manufacturing costs.
The indisputable trump of all ATI Technologies’ graphics chips is 2D and video features. Obviously, RADEON 9100 IGP inherited every single capability supported by higher-end parts. The new integrated core-logic products offer 2 independent 300MHz RAMDACs supporting up to 2048x1536@32bit resolutions. Besides, RADEON 9100 IGP and MOBILITY RADEON 9100 IGP offer integrated TV-Out encoder and video engines supporting up to 1024x768 resolutions, beloved Macrovision 7.02, video scaling and filtering with advanced 4-tap horizontal and vertical filter, integrated hardware motion compensation and iDCT, Enhanced MPEG2 hardware decode and hardware DVD sub-picture decode. Flat-panel support includes LVDS interface and external TMDS.
MOBILITY RADEON 9100 IGP also features Intel SpeedStep support for Intel Pentium M processors and Mobile Intel Pentium 4-M family. Additionally, it is ACPI 1.0b compliant and offers ATI’s own POWERPLAY technology support, including adjusting engine clock, memory clock, and core voltage based on usage scenario; dynamic clock gating for reduced power consumption and self-refresh SDRAM in Suspend mode.
ATI’s RADEON 9100 IGP launch partners include ASUS, Compal, CP Technology, FIC, Gigabyte, Lite-On, MSI, PC Partner, Quanta, Shuttle, and Sapphire. RADEON 9100 IGP and MOBILITY RADEON 9100 IGP will begin shipping this Summer.
At this point it is hard to tell whether there will be chipsets from ATI Technologies to support AMD Athlon XP and AMD Athlon 64 platforms.