Introduction

After the overview of modern Intel and AMD processors, there were many requests for a similar article covering the graphics arena. "Arena" is a great term to describe the market, as few other topics are as likely to raise the ire of the dreaded fanboy as discussing graphics. However, similar to the CPU Guide, this article is not meant as a set of benchmarks or to answer the commonly asked question of "which graphics card is best?" Instead, it is a look at the internal designs, feature sets, and theoretical performance of various graphics chips.

The initial scope of this article is limited to graphics chips manufactured by ATI and NVIDIA. This is not to say that they are the only companies making 3D graphics chips, but honestly, if 3D gaming is your area of interest, there really aren't any other good alternatives. The integrated graphics in VIA, Intel, and SiS chipsets are, at best, disappointing. They're fine for business use, but businesses don't generally worry about graphics performance anyway, as anything made within the past five years is more than sufficient for word processing and spreadsheet manipulation. Matrox is still heralded by many as the best 2D image quality, but again, for gaming - the primary concern of anyone talking about consumer 3D graphics cards - they simply fall short. It's too bad, really, as more competition almost always benefits the consumer, but computer hardware is a very cutthroat market - one seriously botched release, and it may be your last!

However, not all ATI and NVIDIA chips will be covered. If the Volari and DeltaChrome have issues with current games, the same can be said of old Rage and TNT graphics cards, only more so. Even the early GeForce and Radeon chips are too slow for serious gaming, but since they are DirectX 7 parts, they have made the cut. So, similar to the CPU Guide, all GeForce and later chips will be included, and so will all the Radeon and later parts. There are a few speculative parts in the charts, and figures for these can and likely will change before they are released - if they ever do manage to see the light of day.

As far as organization goes, code names and features will be listed first. Next, a look at the potential performance - and why it often isn't realized - will follow. There will also be some general micro processor information and die size estimates later on, which you can skip if such discussions do not hold your interest. Unfortunately, estimates are the best we can do in some areas, as getting details from any of the major graphics card companies is like pulling teeth from a crocodile. With that said, on to the charts.

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  • MODEL 3 - Wednesday, September 08, 2004 - link

    A lot of mistakes for a professional hardware review site the size of Anandtech.I will only mention the de facto mistakes since I have doubts for more.I am actually surprised about the amount of mistakes in this article.I mean since I live in Greece (not the center of the world in 3d technology or hardware market) I always thought that the editors in the best hardware review sites of the world (like Anandtech) have at least the basic knowledge related to technology and they make research and doublecheck if their articles are correct.I mean they get paid, right?I mean if I can find so easily their mistakes (I have no technology related degree although I was purchase and product manager in the best Greek IT companies) they must be doing something very,very wrong indeed.Now onto the mistakes:
    ATI :
    X700 6 vertex pipelines: Actually this is no mistake since I have no information about this new part but it seems strange if X700 will have the same (6) vertex pipelines as X800XT.I guess more logical would be half as many (3) (like 6800Ultra-6600GT) or double as many as X600 (4).We will see.
    Radeon VE 183/183: The actual speed was 166/166SDR 128bit for ATI parts and as low as 143/143 for 3rd party bulk part
    Radeon 7000 PCI 166/333 The actual speed was 166/166SDR 128bit for ATI parts and as low as 143/143 for 3rd party bulk part (note that anandtech suggests 166DDR and the correct is 166 SDR)
    Radeon 7000 AGP 183/366 32/64(MB): The actual speed was 166/166SDR for ATI parts and as low as 143/143 for 3rd party bulk part (note that anandtech suggests 166DDR and the correct is 166 SDR) also at launch and for a whole year (if ever) it didn't exist a 64MB part
    Radeon 7200 64bit ram bus: The 7200 was exactly the same as Radeon DDR so the ram bus width was 128bit
    ATI has unofficial DX 9 with SM2.0b support: Actually ATI has official DX 9.0b support and Microsoft certified this "in between" version of DX9.When they enable their 2.0b feutures they don't fail WHQL compliance since 2.0b is official microsoft version (get it?).Feutures like 3Dc normal map compression are activated only in open GL mode but 3Dc compression is not part of DX9.0b.
    NVIDIA:
    GF 6800LE with 8 pixel pipelines has according to Anandtech 5 vertex pipelines: Actually this is no mistake since I have no information about this part but since 6800GT/Ultra is built with four (4) quads with 4 pixel pipelines each isn't more logical the 6800LE with half the quads to have half the pixel (8) AND half (3) the vertex pipelines?
    GFFX 5700 3 vertex pipelines: GFFX 5700 has half the number of pixel AND vertex pipelines of 5900 so if you convert the vertex array of 5900 into 3 vertex pipes (which is correct) then the 5700 would have 1,5
    GF4 4600 300/600: The actual speed is 300/325DDR 128bit
    GF2MX 175/333: The actual speed is 175/166SDR 128bit
    GF4MX series 0.5 vertex shader: Actually the GF4MX series had twice the amount of vertex shaders of GF2 so the correct number of vertex shader is 1
    According to Anandtech, the GF3 cards only show a slight performance increase over the GF2 Ultra, and that is only in more recent games : Actually GF3 (Q1 01) was based in 0,18 nm technology and the yields was extremely low.In reality GF3 parts in acceptable quantity came in Q3 01 with GF3Ti series 0,15 nm technology .If you check the performance in open GL games at and after Q3 01 and DX8 games at and after Q3 02 you will clearly see GF3 to have double the performance of GF2 clock for clock (GF3Ti500 Vs GF2Ultra)

    Now, the rest of the article is not bad and I also appreciate the effort.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, September 08, 2004 - link

    Sorry, ViRGE - I actually took your suggestion to heart and updated page 3 initially, since you are right about it being more common. However, I forgot to modify the DX7 performance charts. There are probably quite a few other corrections that should be made as well.... Reply
  • ViRGE - Tuesday, September 07, 2004 - link

    Jared, like I said, you're technically right about how the GF2 MX could be outfitted with either 128bit SDR or 64bit SDR/DDR, but you said it yourself that the cards were mostly 128bit SDR. Obviously any change won't have an impact, but in my humble opinion, it would be best to change the GF2 MX to better represent what historically happened, so that if someone uses this chart as a reference for a GF2 MX, they're more likely to be getting the "right" data. Reply
  • BigLan - Tuesday, September 07, 2004 - link

    Good job with the article

    Love the office reference...

    "Can I put it in my mouth?"
    Reply
  • darth_beavis - Tuesday, September 07, 2004 - link

    Sorry, now it's suddenly working. I don't know what my problem is (but I'm sure it's hard to pronounce). Reply
  • darth_beavis - Tuesday, September 07, 2004 - link

    Actually it looks like none of them have labels. Is anandtech not mozilla compatible or something. Just use jpgs pleaz. Reply
  • darth_beavis - Tuesday, September 07, 2004 - link

    Why is there no descriptions for the columns on the graph on pg 2. Are just supposed to guess what the numbers mean? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, September 07, 2004 - link

    Yes, Questar, laden with errors. All over the place. Thanks for pointing them out so that they could be corrected. I'm sure that took you quite some time.

    Seriously, though, point them out (other than omissions, as making a complete list of every single variation of every single card would be difficult at best) and we will be happy to correct them provided that they actually are incorrect. And if you really want a card included, send the details of the card, and we can add that as well.

    Regarding the ATI AIW (All In Wonder, for those that don't know) cards, they often varied from the clock and RAM speeds of the standard chips. Later models may have faster RAM or core speeds, while earlier models often had slower RAM and core speeds.
    Reply
  • blckgrffn - Tuesday, September 07, 2004 - link

    Questar - if you don't like it, leave. The article clearly stated its bounds and did a great job. My $.02 - the 7500 AIW is 64 meg DDR only, unsure of the speed however. Do you want me to check that out? Reply
  • mikecel79 - Tuesday, September 07, 2004 - link

    #22 The Geforce256 was released in October of 1999 so this is roughly the last 5 years of chips from ATI and Nvidia. If it were to include all other manufacturers it would be quite a bit longer.

    How about examples of this article being "laden or errors" instead of just stating it.
    Reply

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