From Academic Kids

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Radeon is a brand of graphics processing units (GPU) that has been manufactured by ATI Technologies since 2000. There are three different groups, which can be differentiated by the DirectX generation they support. More specific distinctions can also be followed, such as the HyperZ version, the number of pixel pipelines, and of course, the memory and processor clock speeds.


DirectX 7

The first-generation Radeon GPU was launched in 2000, and was initially code-named Rage 6, (later R100). The Radeon was comparable in specification to the nVidia GeForce 2. The Radeon and Geforce differed in 3D-pipeline configuration (2x3 vs 4x2, respectively), and ATI's HyperZ, which removed obscured objects from the rendering pipeline. In terms of texel and pixel throughput, the Radeon scored lower than the Geforce 2 in most benchmarks, even with HyperZ activated. The performance difference was especially noticeable in 16-bit colour, where both the GeForce 2 and 3dfx's Voodoo 5 5500 were far ahead.

Aside from the new 3D-core, the Radeon introduced per-pixel video-deinterlacing to ATI's already leading-edge HDTV-capable MPEG-2 engine. In motion-video applications ranging from AVI to DVD playback, the Radeon was considered by many to be in a class by itself. (But due to the immaturity of device drivers and the DirectX-VA software API, the deinterlacing was only used by one application: Ravisent Cinemaster DVD.)

In 2001, after the release of the Radeon 8500, the original Radeon model was renamed as the Radeon 7200. Other models of the first-generation Radeon were the Radeon VE (RV100, later known as the Radeon 7000), which was a cost-reduced model. The VE lacked much of the original Radeon's 3D-hardware: one texturing unit per pixel-pipeline, HyperZ, and hardware T&L were all removed. Another model was the Radeon LE, which was almost a full blown Radeon, albeit with reduced clock frequency and HyperZ disabled at the software level. The final model was the Radeon 7500 (R150), which was based on a 0.15 micrometre manufacturing process (R(V)100 used a 0.18 micrometre process) and clocked considerably higher than the R100. However, when nVidia launched the GeForce4 family, the Radeon 7500's performance was inferior to nVidia's similarly-priced GeForce4 MX440. This led ATI to release its successor, the Radeon 9000.


(Ranked in performance order, best performing model at the bottom)

  • Radeon VE/7000
  • Radeon LE
  • Radeon 7200 (SDR)/Radeon
  • Radeon 7200 (DDR)
  • Radeon 7500 (SDR)
  • Radeon 7500 (DDR)

DirectX 8

ATI's first DirectX 8 card was the Radeon 8500, which was launched together with the Radeon 8500LE (later the Radeon 9100). The 8500 was able to outperform the GeForce3 (and in some circumstances, its faster variant, the Ti500), while the 8500LE became popular with OEMs and enthusiasts due to its low price. However, the 8500/LE was shipped without a working Anti-Aliasing implementation, and suffered a reputation for poor drivers throughout its life.

A second version, the 8500XT (R250) was supposedly in the works, ready to compete against the GeForce4 cards, but ATI (perhaps mindful of what had happened to 3dfx when they took focus off their "Rampage" processor) abandoned it, in favour of finishing off their next-generation card.

The Radeon 9000 (RV250) was launched alongside the 9700, and was basically a stripped-down 8500, incorporating a few improvements that had been put into the never-released 8500XT. It replaced the Radeon 7500 and was ATI's answer to the GeForce 4 MX440. Its main advantage over the GeForce4 MX440 was that it had a full vertex and pixel shader implementation. In games, it performed around the same as the GeForce 4 MX440. A later version of the 9000 was the 9200 (RV280), which, aside from supporting AGP-8X, was identical. However, there was a cheaper version, the 9200SE, which only had a 64-bit memory bus. The 9250 was launched in summer 2004, supporting the older PCI bus interface, and 256mb of memory.


(Ranked in performance order, best performing model at the bottom)

  • Radeon 9200SE
  • Radeon 9000
  • Radeon 9250
  • Radeon 9200
  • Radeon 9000 Pro
  • Radeon 9100
  • Radeon 8500LE/9100 Pro
  • Radeon 8500

DirectX 9

First generation

The first DirectX 9 card from ATI (or anyone, for that matter) was the Radeon 9700 Pro (R300), launched in August 2002. The main improvements came from a greatly improved single-texturing speed (multi-texturing was around the same as the GeForce 4 Ti4600's), and a 256-bit memory bus, which offered just under double the memory bandwidth of the Ti4600. In addition, the Radeon 9700 Pro was the world's first chip to feature 8 pixel pipelines. Also, it was the first GPU that utilized flip-chip design, where the core is flipped and the bottom is the part that is exposed, this is done to improve cooling. Under normal conditions it beat the Ti4600 by around 15-20%, and when Anti-Aliasing and/or Anisotropic Filtering were switched on it beat the Ti4600 by anywhere from 40-100%. A slower chip, the 9700, was launched a few months later, differing only by slower core and memory speeds.

A few months later, the 9500 and 9500 Pro were launched. The 9500 Pro had half the memory bus width of the 9700 Pro, and the 9500 had half the pixel processing units disabled. The 9500 Pro outperformed all of nVidia's products (save the Ti4600), while the 9500 also became popular because it could be modded into the much more powerful Radeon 9700. However, ATI's strategy here was flawed, as all the R300 chips were based on the same physical die, meaning that ATI's production costs were high and chips could be modded to their higher end counterparts. 9500 was one of the short-life product of ATI, later replaced by Radeon 9600 series.

In early 2003, the 9700 cards were replaced by the 9800 (R350). These were basically R300s with higher speeds, and improvements to the shader units and memory controller, and was designed to maintain a performance lead over the newly launched GeForce FX 5800 Ultra (though it wasn't entirely necessary, as the 5800 GPUs never went into mass-production), which it managed to do. A later version with 256MB of memory used DDR2 SDRAM. The other two variants were the 9800, which was simply a lower-clocked 9800 Pro, and the 9800SE, which had half the pixel processing units disabled (can be enabled again). Official ATI specs dictate a 256-bit memory bus for the 9800SE, but most of the manufacturers use a 128-bit bus. Usually, the 9800SE with 256-bit memory bus is called "9800SE Ultra" or "9800SE Golden Version".

The 9500 was replaced by the 9600 (and its Pro variant), and while the 9600 Pro didn't outperform its 9500 equivalent, it was much more economical for ATI to produce by way of a 0.13 micrometre process (all ATI's cards since the 7500/8500 had been 0.15 micrometre) and a simplified design. Using 0.13 micrometre process is also good for pushing up the Core Clock. The 9600 series, all with high default clocking, still can overclock a lot. The 9600 Pro did, however, largely manage to beat nVidia's GeForce FX 5600 Ultra (both version) by its high clocking. From then experiance of 9500, this time ATi made sure that 9600 could not be modded into 9800.

Later in 2003, three new cards were launched - the 9800XT, (R360), the 9600XT and the 9600SE (both RV360). The 9800XT was slightly faster than the 9800 Pro had been, while the 9600XT competed well with the newly launched GeForce FX 5700 Ultra. The 9600SE was ATI's answer to nVidia's GeForce FX 5200 Ultra, and managed to perform roughly equal to the first, and was priced lower than the latter. Another RV360 chip followed in early 2004, the 9550, which was a 9600 with a lower core clock (though an identical memory clock and bus width).


(Ranked in performance order, best performing model at the bottom)

  • Radeon 9550 SE
  • Radeon 9600 SE
  • Radeon 9550
  • Radeon 9600
  • Radeon 9500
  • Radeon 9600 Pro
  • Radeon 9800 SE (128-bit memory bus)
  • Radeon 9500 Pro
  • Radeon 9600 XT
  • Radeon 9800 SE (256-bit memory bus)
  • Radeon 9700
  • Radeon 9800
  • Radeon 9700 Pro (Tends to squeak by the base 9800 by about .1 FPS)
  • Radeon 9800 Pro
  • Radeon 9800 XT

Second generation

In May 2004, the newest Radeons were launched - the Radeon X Series.

The X800s were the first, based on the R420 core. The X800s are essentially quad-core RV360 chips, produced on a 0.13 micrometre process and using GDDR-3 memory. In terms of supported DirectX features, they are identical to the R3xx cores. The highest-end version is the X850XT Platinum Edition, a fully enabled R420 core, with slightly lower-clocked versions, X850XT, X800XT Platinum Edition, and X800XT also available. The third X800 card, the X800XL is an underclocked version of the X800XT, but possesses all 16 pipelines of the higher end card. It is ATI's answer to the nVidia GeForce 6800GT. The fourth X800, the X800 Pro is similar to the X800XT, but with 1/4 of the chip disabled. A fifth version, the X800SE, is expected to be launched shortly, and will have half of the core disabled.

This was followed the next month by the X300 and X600 series, which were little more than PCI Express versions of the Radeon 9600 series. The X600 proved to be only a stopgap, being replaced by the X700 series in September. The X700 series had a similar core and memory setup to the 9500 Pro, only clocked much higher and produced on a 0.11 micrometre process. The fastest version, the X700XT performs comparably to the 9800XT.


(Ranked in performance order, best performing model at the bottom)

  • Radeon X300SE
  • Radeon X300
  • Radeon X600 Pro
  • Radeon X600XT
  • Radeon X700
  • Radeon X700 Pro
  • Radeon X700XT
  • Radeon X800SE
  • Radeon X800
  • Radeon X800 Pro
  • Radeon X850 Pro
  • Radeon X800XL
  • Radeon X800XT
  • Radeon X800XT Platinum Edition
  • Radeon X850XT
  • Radeon X850XT Platinum Edition

Future products

  • R520 - This was the original successor to R3x0, under the codename of R400. However, the design was abandoned, as ATI's engineers deemed it unfeasible to produce with current manufacturing technologies. It has been renamed and delayed to Spring of 2005, to allow redesign, and will support Vertex and Pixel Shaders V3.0. The codename for R520 is "Fudo".



ATI's Windows Radeon drivers are called CATALYST™. The current version is 5.6, which supports HTDV-Out and Windows XP 64-bit Edition. There are two different bundles available for Windows; one comes with ATI's newer interface for modifying graphics settings. ATI calls this newer interface Catalyst Control Center. The older version uses ATI's traditional control panels. Both versions allow the user to change graphics settings, but the newer interface allows the user to enable or disable Catalyst A.I., ATI's graphics optimization feature. It also offers a small 3D preview, allowing the user to see how changing the graphics settings affect the quality of the rendered image. Download Latest Drivers (http://www.ati.com/support/driver.html)

Besides, there are many unoffical drivers available, usually their performance is better than the offical Catalyst. Some of them even provide modified or patched dll files for DIYers to Mod (modify) their cards. (as 9500 and 9700 are the same chips, 9800SE and 9800 are the same chips, some of them can be modded by activating all 8 pixel pipelines.)


Initially, ATI did not produce Radeon drivers for Linux, instead giving hardware specifications and documentation to Direct Rendering Infrastructure (DRI) developers under various non-disclosure agreements. ATI has recently, however, started to support Linux (XFree86, X.Org), hiring a new Linux driver team. Their new proprietary Linux drivers, instead of being a port of the Catalyst drivers, are based on the drivers for the FireGL, a card geared towards graphics producers, not gamers. The frequency of driver updates has increased in 2004, with a plan to have Linux drivers every four weeks, like their Windows counterparts. There are also open source hardware acceleration drivers for older cards provided by the DRI project.


FreeBSD systems have hardware acceleration support for older Radeon-based video cards thanks to the DRI project.


Although ATI does not provide its own drivers for BeOS, it provides hardware and technical documentation to the Haiku Project who provide drivers with full 2D and video in/out support. They are the sole graphics manafacturer in any way still supporting BeOS.

External Link

ATI Technologies Inc. (http://www.ati.com/)de:Radeon ja:RADEON


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