Introduction

Take all the clichés used to describe a long overdue event or the unexpected fulfillment of a promise (hot places freezing, heavy animals soaring through the air, etc...) and you still couldn't say enough to fully proclaim the news that ATI has finally properly hard launched a product. That's right, looking around the internet this morning has provided us with the joyous realization that the Radeon X1900XT, XTX, and CrossFire parts are available for purchase. We've tried to keep an eye on the situation and it's been quite easy to see that ATI would be able to pull it off this time. Some sites started taking preorders earlier in the week saying their X1900 parts would ship in one to two days, putting the timeframe right on the mark. There were no missing dongles, no problems with customs, and ATI told us last week that thousands of parts had already been delivered to manufacturers.

And if that isn't enough to dance about, ATI has delivered a hugely powerful part with this launch. The Radeon X1900 series is no joke, and every card featuring the name is a behemoth. With triple the pixel shader units of the X1800 XT, and a general increase in supporting hardware throughout the pixel processing engine, ATI's hugely clocked 384 Million transistor GPU is capable of crunching enormous volumes of data very quickly. Fill rate isn't increased very much because the X1900 series still only allows 16 pixels to be drawn to the screen per clock cycle, but power is delivered where it is needed most. With longer and more complex shader programs, pixels need to stay in the shader engine longer which further shifts the performance burden from the theoretical maximum fill rate.

NVIDIA would like us to compare the X1900's increase in ALU (arithmetic logic unit) power to what they did with the FX 5900 after NV30 tanked. Certainly, increasing the math power (and increasing memory bandwidth) helped NVIDIA, but fortunately for ATI the X1900 is not derived from a fundamentally flawed GPU design. The X1800 series are certainly not bad parts, even if they are being completely replaced by the X1900 in ATI's lineup.



I'll spoil the results and make it clear that the X1900XT and XTX are hands down the best cards out there right now. But all positives aside, ATI needed this card to hard launch with good availability, perform better than anything else, and look good doing it. There have been too many speed bumps in ATI's way for there to be any room for a slip up on this launch, and it looks like they've pulled it off. The launch of the X1900 series not only puts ATI back on top, but (much more importantly) it puts them back in the game. Let's hope that both ATI and NVIDIA can keep up the good fight.

But let's not forget why we're here. The first thing we are going to do is talk about what makes the R580 GPU that powers the X1900 series so incredibly good at what it does.

R580 Architecture
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  • Orbs - Wednesday, January 25, 2006 - link

    I didn't see any comparisons between X1900 XT CrossFire and X1900 XTX CrossFire, except for the comments at the end of the article saying diminishing returns resulting in even smaller a gap in CrossFire than the XTX had over the XT to begin with.

    With the exception of 1 B&W2 test (which I suspect is a typo), the graphs all show the X1800 XT vs. the X1900 XTX. Those are two different generations, not just clock speeds.
    Reply
  • poohbear - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    I LOVE competition.:) Reply
  • poohbear - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    especially GOOD competition.:0 Reply
  • Aquila76 - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    Nice. Maybe we'll start seeing some real developments in GPU's again. Right now, it's more of a 'do what we've been doing but faster', maybe we'll start seeing some new innovations in video tech in the coming year (adding physics processing, wider encoding capabilities, etc.). Reply
  • Spoelie - Thursday, January 26, 2006 - link

    The x.00 line was more of the same yeah, but the x1.00 line is architecturally a pretty large step forward, finally on par with nvidia where it really needed to and a few steps ahead in other areas. If only they gave it more ROPs/Texture engines. Reply
  • Phantronius - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    And the shitty cycle of upgrading continues. Reply
  • Capt Caveman - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    And available at a good price. Way to go ATI. Reply
  • gimpsoft - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    nice scores on ATI but i still have my 6800GT ill wait until next 2 gen i see we can now play respectable 40 frames + @ 19200X1400 nice to know when 1080p tv are out

    don't know either that or get a PS3 will see =) it's getting way to expensive.
    Reply
  • bamacre - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    WTF is your idea of "good price?" I see X1900 XT starting at $550 to $605 per card. Reply
  • Capt Caveman - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    Digitally Unique has the X1900XT for $525 and Actbuy had them for $504. Based on performance, these cards offer a great bang for your buck. And this is coming from a GTX 512 owner. Reply

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