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  • cblakely - Friday, August 22, 2014 - link

    "If you wanted a state-of-the-art video card like the ATI VGA Wonder in 1998, you were looking at $500 for the 256K model or $700 for the 512K edition."

    1988 maybe?
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, August 22, 2014 - link

    Yup... fat fingered or just too many dates in my head. :) Reply
  • StevoLincolnite - Saturday, August 23, 2014 - link

    "3dfx, NVIDIA, Virge, S3"

    I think you mean: "3dfx, nVidia, S3".
    Virge was actually an S3 branded GPU, aka, the S3 Virge DX/XG and not a separate company.
    Plus we also had competitors such as Matrox, Rendition, Trident, NEC etc'.
    Reply
  • Mathos - Saturday, August 23, 2014 - link

    He's leaving out Rendition(Verite chip) and Matrox from that time period as well. Reply
  • StevoLincolnite - Sunday, August 24, 2014 - link

    Already noted that. :P

    Then we have: "The second generation Radeon chips (sold under the Radeon 8000 and lower number 9000 models) added DirectX 8 support, the first appearance of programmable pixel and vertex shaders in GPUs."

    Which isn't entirely accurate either.
    Yes it was one of the first GPU's with Direct X 8.0/8.1 compatible programmable pixel shaders, but it's far from the first implementation of programmable pixel shaders as a whole.

    If you go back to the GPU before the 8000 series you had programmable pixel shaders on the Radeon 7500, albeit it wasn't flexible enough to be compliant with Direct X.
    Reply
  • Mr Perfect - Friday, August 22, 2014 - link

    It appears this is more a celebration of their graphics division, formerly ATI, which was founded in… August, 1985.


    Maybe I'm just suffering from friday brain here, but wouldn't a start date of '85 make them 29 years old?
    Reply
  • ruggia - Friday, August 22, 2014 - link

    Seems like its meant to be a year-long celebration, so this is more like a pre-gaming kick off party Reply
  • Karl Hungus - Friday, August 22, 2014 - link

    Next to my 3dfx Voodoo 2 my Radeon 9700 pro is the the card I have the best memories of. I bought it on release and it was relevant for many years. How they squandered that lead I will never understand. Reply
  • just4U - Friday, August 22, 2014 - link

    wait ... what? Squandered? They were behind till the 9x series came out and have been trading blows with Nvidia's Geforce line ever since. Reply
  • Samus - Friday, August 22, 2014 - link

    Yeah Karl you act like ATI/AMD hasn't even been relevant. NVidia had some real doozies back in the Fermi days (just a few years ago) and they've literally been trading blows with every generation of GPU. However, I think ATI/AMD is in real trouble when the high-performance Maxwell-based 880/870 are released this Fall. The fact Maxwell is about twice as efficient that Kepler alone is going to require some real overhaul of AMD's "Islands" architecture. Reply
  • Karl Hungus - Saturday, August 23, 2014 - link

    Exactly my point, they have been trading blows, with the lead the 9x series gave them they should have buried Nvidia. Reply
  • just4U - Saturday, August 23, 2014 - link

    9x.. (meaning 9700 series..)

    It worked something like this..

    Nvidia started knocking off video chip makers in 97 with their riva series.. ATi was king at the time
    and very complacent.. I think they had like 66% of the GPU market or there abouts. They finally
    got competitive with the 8500 line and it's stayed that way right thru today. Sometimes Nvidia wins sometimes Amd.
    Reply
  • SlyNine - Saturday, August 23, 2014 - link

    I played Gears of war on a 9700 pro, med settings, 800x600. Playable frame rates (20-40) It was one of those few (like the 8800GTX or 5870) that seemed to just stand the test of time. In an industry where time moves very fast. Reply
  • Death666Angel - Saturday, August 23, 2014 - link

    That generation was golden! I bought a 9500 non-pro 128MB I think and turned it into a 9700 pro with a hacked Omega driver - I wasn't too keen on a hardware mod at the time, being only 15 years old and having a limited budget! That was fun. Lasted me a good long while, too. Reply
  • Flunk - Friday, August 22, 2014 - link

    Wow, this makes me think back to my first 3d graphics card. Which was an ATi Xpert@Play, which sported a Rage Pro chipset and a whole 8MB of RAM (half of which was on a expansion card). The Rage Pro was about as powerful as a 3DFX Voodoo in D3D and a bit slower in OpenGL. The big issue with the card was that the drivers were TERRIBLE. Somewhat unstable, but the big issue was rendering errors. You don't think about that these days but it literally rendered scenes inaccurately in quite a few programs. And even if it did render things properly it was missing a few features so it wouldn't look quite right. Not only that, OpenGL support worked great in Quake II... and crashed or ran terribly in nearly everything else.

    That card was responsible for me not buying another ATi card for years, not until I bought a Radeon 9500 PRO (The origional PCB revision) and unlocking it to perform like a Radeon 9700 PRO. By that point ATi had their drivers nearly on par with Nvidia. That card was a great deal, because I basically paid for a mid-range card and got high-end performance.

    I've had some more AMD cards since then but those were the ones memorable enough to share.
    Reply
  • Morawka - Friday, August 22, 2014 - link

    About those drivers, did ATI really ever have driver quality parity with Nvidia? i mean right now they don't. Reply
  • SlyNine - Saturday, August 23, 2014 - link

    Only if you're splitting hairs or biased. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, August 23, 2014 - link

    Right now there are two major areas where NVIDIA is ahead of AMD drivers:

    1) Installation/removal of drivers. On a fast system with an SSD, NVIDIA's install takes what, one minute, maybe two? And if you need to switch to a newer or older or beta driver, you just run the install and it works. Worst-case, use the "clean" method to take longer but ensure any old settings are fully gone.

    For AMD, the install process takes at least twice as long, if not longer. Also, NVIDIA's control panel loads up much faster than AMD's after installation. And if you ever try downgrading AMD drivers, it can be a nightmare. Basically, uninstall everything, then go search through the Windows\System32 folder and removing any remaining files (after a reboot), and in a few cases you might even need to do some registry hacking.

    2) Anything mobile -- Optimus is simply better than Enduro still. Granted, it's getting closer, but there's a reason the vast majority of laptops with dGPUs use NVIDIA chips.

    But outside of those problems, I don't really have any issues with AMD's drivers. All the games I've tried work fine on either company's current mid-range to high-end desktop GPUs.
    Reply
  • just4U - Friday, August 22, 2014 - link

    Radeon 8500 series is where it started to get interesting for me. I actually got into the top ten on 3dmark :D I remember paying $400 for my card and $650ish for my girlfriends Asus GF3 Ti. The Radeon was a steal... the Nvidia card not so much lol.. good card tho. Reply
  • klagermkii - Friday, August 22, 2014 - link

    Which chip in the Commodore 64 or Amiga was ATI responsible for? I see it mentioned now across multiple sites but can't seem to find the reference to the particular chip. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, August 23, 2014 - link

    I think they were just a subcontractor that made some of the same chips that other companies were making. I don't believe they did anything for the Amiga, so perhaps just a "compatible" VIC-II chip. Reply
  • nagi603 - Friday, August 22, 2014 - link

    Well, my first foray into ATI territory was the 9700/64MB in my laptop that I used for gaming for years, even though I had to use modded drivers from the get-go to get any kind of update for it. It is still more than enough for basic office work to this day. I did start out with S3, Nvidia and noname VGAs before that, but from the 9700 onwards, I haven't looked back.

    Then, back on desktop, the X1600 Pro, the X1900GT, 4850, 6850 and finally the 290X now. Oh, and I modded the cooling of every one of them, except the 6850.
    Reply
  • CuriousMike - Friday, August 22, 2014 - link

    Congrats ATI (AMD) - I was a cash-starved teen with my monochrome monitor and crappy Hercules graphics card that played extactly zero games. Then... the EGA-Wonder entered my life and the world of PC gaming in monochrome was on my desk. When I purchased my first monitor (NEC Multisync 2), the VGA-Wonder was my card of choice to drive all those 320x200, 320x240 and 640x400 images of bikini clad women in full color. Reply
  • Samus - Friday, August 22, 2014 - link

    I think congratulations are in order to ATI for weathering the storm. Many competitors after all didn't make it. We literally have three relevant companies making PC graphics chips left. In the 90's, there were dozens. 3Dfx, Tseng Labs, Via, S3, SIS, Cirrus Logic, Matrox (admittedly still around) and IBM to name a few. It's amazing to think all that's left is Intel, NVidia and ATI/AMD each with ~33% market share. Reply
  • Beany2013 - Sunday, August 24, 2014 - link

    Tseng Labs! I have fond memories of using an ET600 to accelerate a 3D pool game on my 486SX 25mhz, to get it up to 20fp in 800x600, rather than..substantially worse using just soft rendering.

    Couldn't help with Quake though - that needed a maths co-processor to do the 3D stuff. Gutting.
    Reply
  • Sttm - Saturday, August 23, 2014 - link

    A64 3200+, A64x2 5200+, Phenom 9950... 9700 Pro, 4870, and currently 7970...

    Thanks for the memories. See you in 2015 (if you show up!)
    Reply
  • siberus - Saturday, August 23, 2014 - link

    I remember my first ati video card.It was a Powercolor radeon 9800 se that I had to get special ordered from a friends uncles computer shop. It was the first tweak-able gpu I'd ever bought. I remember soft modding it into a full fledged 9800pro and then overclocking it into a 9800xt. Probably the only time in gaming when i was on the bleeding edge . Good times :) Reply
  • coburn_c - Saturday, August 23, 2014 - link

    30 years of innovation my ass. They started by reverse engineering Intel chips, they didn't get into the graphics business until some idiot bet the farm on ATI, and they haven't done a damn thing in the last three. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, August 23, 2014 - link

    So when AMD started in 1969, they were reverse engineering which Intel chips exactly? And as far as an "idiot betting the farm on ATI", I think most people would say that's been one of the best moves AMD has made. Reply
  • coburn_c - Saturday, August 23, 2014 - link

    The 8080, it was their claim to fame. Most people are stupid. Reply
  • atlantico - Saturday, August 23, 2014 - link

    Well done people of AMD, 30 years in tech is very impressive, few make it that far and stay on the cutting edge like you have done. Here's to another 30. Reply
  • HisDivineOrder - Sunday, August 24, 2014 - link

    So, uh, when is your nVidia retrospective that ignores any discussion of the competition in the same timeframe? ;)

    Ahem. Wow, look at all the red buttons and titling and whats-it's.

    AMD must be throwing all the money they used to put toward new R&D (not trickling out GPU designs completed pre-1Q2013) into their Anandtech Red Section Payment Department.
    Reply

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