OC3D Preview - ATI Release X1950 Pro
Published: 17th October 2006 | Source: ATI |Introduction
ATI has kept improving upon a great architecture again and again. Since the initial release of the X1800 they have made great improvements in IQ and speed. Naturally when we got a shout from them to take a pre-release look at what their latest card was going to be we jumped at the chance.
Features - Quick Reference
• Die size is approximately 16.7mm x 13.8mm
• Clock speeds GPU: 575MHz
• Memory Speed: 1380Mhz
• Memory Type: 256mb GDDR3
• Approximately 330M transistors
• ALU structure = 36 pixel shader processors and 8 vertex shader processors
• Render back-ends = 12
• Z compare units = 12
• Texture units = 12
• Max threads = 384
Keeping with the excellent X1900 architecture ATI state:
• Support for Microsoft® DirectX® 9.0 programmable vertex and pixel shaders in hardware.
• Shader Model 3.0 vertex and pixel shader support:
o Full speed 32-bit floating point processing
o High dynamic range rendering with floating point blending and anti-aliasing support
o High performance dynamic branching and flow control
• Complete feature set also supported in OpenGL® 2.0
Anti-Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering
• 2x/4x/6x Anti-Aliasing modes:
o Sparse multi-sample algorithm with gamma correction, programmable sample patterns, and centroid sampling
o New Adaptive Anti-Aliasing mode
o Temporal Anti-Aliasing
• Lossless Color Compression (up to 6:1) at all resolutions, up to and including widescreen HDTV
• 2x/4x/8x/16x Anisotropic Filtering modes:
o Up to 128-tap texture filtering
o Adaptive algorithm with performance and quality options
• Improved rendering with higher subpixel precision and LOD computation levels
• New rotational high quality rendering mode
3Dc+TM - Advanced Texture Compression
• High quality 4:1 compression for normal maps and luminance maps
• Works with any single-channel or two-channel data format
New Ring Bus Memory Controller
• Programmable arbitration logic maximizes memory efficiency, software upgradeable
• New fully associative texture, color, and Z cache design
• Hierarchical Z-Buffer with Early Z Test
• Lossless Z-Buffer Compression (up to 48:1)
• Fast Z-Buffer Clear
• Z Cache optimized for real-time shadow rendering
• Optimized for performance at high display resolutions, up to and including widescreen HDTV
Avivo Video and Display Engine
• New advanced video capabilities, including high fidelity gamma, color correction and scaling
• Dual independent display controllers that support true 30 bits per pixel throughout the display pipe
• Full symmetry on both heads
• Each display interface supports display resolutions beyond 2560x1600
• Advanced DVI capabilities, including 10-bit, 16-bit HDR output
• YPrPb component output for direct drive of HDTV displays
• Seamless integration of pixel shaders with video in real time
• MPEG1/2/4 decode and encode acceleration:
• DXVA support
o Hardware motion compensation, iDCT, DCT and color space conversion
• All-format DTV/HDTV decoding
• Adaptive per-pixel de-interlacing and frame rate conversion (temporal filtering)
• Multi-GPU technology ready
• Four modes of operation:
o Alternate frame rendering for maximum performance
o Supertiling for optimal load-balancing
o Scissoring for compatibility
o Super AA for maximum image quality
• Native CrossFire support simplifies setup by requiring no dedicated slave or master hardware
• 24-bit CrossFire connection enables high resolutions and refresh rates
• Supports the broadest range of platforms for both Intel and AMD
The most noticeable thing in there is the native crossfire support. Whispers have been heard of this but this is the first time that the top-end cards have got the treatment. Also notice that there is will be a crossfire bridge. That's right: no more dongle.
The new part is clocked at 575/1380. This features 36 pixel shaders and 8 vertex shaders. Compare this to the 48 pixel shaders and 8 vertex shaders of the X1950XTX and perhaps ATI have disabled or stripped down the pipelines from their top-end card. I would have though there would once again be some nice headroom in both the RAM and GPU.
ATI have developed the Crossfire platform to the point that we all wanted to see....an internal bridge connecter for crossfire. Featuring 2 x 24bit connecters, this is a far more attractive proposition than an external dongle.
Also included in this announcement is the fact that there is no Master or Slave cards for Crossfire support. ATI have Incorporated functionality of the compositing engine into the ASIC eliminating the need for branded Master and Slave cards. This means that the software will assign master and slave functions to either card.
Before we take a look at ATI's benchmarks for the card I have to make sure you ar aware that the X1950Pro is WHQL certified to run with Microsoft Windows Vista™. I'm not getting too excited about this at this point as we still haven't seen a DX10 part...but it's a start I suppose.
ATI also mention subtly that you can F@H on your X1900 series GPU...and very fast it is too.
Let's take a quick look at some of ATI's benchies...