Feature Overview

There are quite a few exciting new features being introduced with ATI's new X1000 series. Of course, we have a new line of hardware based on a more refined architecture. But at the end of the day, it's not the way that a company implements a dot product or manages memory latency that sells product; it's what consumers can do with the hardware that counts. ATI will not disappoint with the number of new features thtat they have included in their new top to bottom family of graphics hardware.

To provide a quick overview of the new lineup from ATI, here are the key featuers of the X1000 series.
  • Fabbed on TSMC's 90nm process
  • Shader Model 3.0 support
  • Fulltime/fullspeed fp32 processing for floating point pixel formats
  • New "Ring Bus" memory architecture with support for GDDR4
  • Antialiasing supported on MRT and fp16 output
  • High quality angle independent Anisotropic Filtering
  • AVIVO and advanced decode/encode support
Shader Model 3.0 has been covered quite a bit over the past year and a half. To quickly summarize the differences, Shader Model 3.0 requires hardware to support dynamic flow control in both the vertex and fragment pipeline. This means that if/else statements and looping are possible. Rather than unrolling loops in programs, SM3.0 can keep instruction counts lower for complex operations. Also, conditional rendering allows unified shaders to run on large areas and do different things on different pixels. Other features such as two-sided lighting and vertex textures are also possible. The real advantages of SM3.0 come in the form of number of registers, branching, relaxed instruction limits, efficiency and accuracy (fp32 support is required). And all these features are now supported top to bottom on both NVIDIA and ATI hardware.

Running on a 90nm TSMC process has given ATI the ability to push clock speeds quite high. With die sizes small and transistor counts high, ATI is able to pack a lot of performance in their new architecture. As the feature list indicates, ATI hasn't just waited idly by. But the real measure of what will be enough to put ATI back on top will be how much performance customers get for their money. To start answering that question, we first need to look at the parts launching and their prices.

ATI X1000 Series Features
Radeon X1300 Pro
Radeon X1600
Radeon X1800 XL
Radeon X1800 XT
Vertex Pipelines
2
5
8
8
Pixel Pipelines
4
12
16
16
Core Clock
600
590
500
625
Memory Size
256MB
256MB
256MB
512MB
Memory Data Rate
800MHz
1.38GHz
1GHz
1.5GHz
Texture Units
4
4
16
16
Render Backends
4
4
16
16
Z Compare Units
4
8
16
16
Maximum Threads
128
128
512
512
Avaialbility
This Week
11/30/2005
This Week
11/5/2005
MSRP
$149
$249
$449
$549

Along with all these features, CrossFire cards for the new X1000 series will be following in a few months. While we don't have anything to test, we can expect quite a few improvements from the next generation of ATI's multi-GPU solution. First and foremost, master cards will include a dual-link TMDS receiver to allow resolutions greater than 1600x1200 to run. This alone will make CrossFire on the X1000 series infinitely more useful than the current incarnation. We can also expect a better compositing engine built on a faster/larger FPGA. We look forward to checking out ATI's first viable multi-GPU solution as soon as it becomes available to us.

Rather than include AVIVO coverage in this article, we have published a separate article on ATI's X1000 series display hardware. The high points are a 10-bit gamma engine, H.264 accelerated decoding and hardware assisted transcoding. While we won't see transcoding support until the end of the year, we have H.264 decode support today. For more details, please check out our Avivo image quality comparison and technology overview.

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  • DerekWilson - Friday, October 07, 2005 - link

    Hello,

    Rather than update this article with the tables as we had planned, we decided to go all out and collect enough data to build something really interesting.

    http://anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=2556">http://anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=2556

    Our extended performance analysis should be enough to better show the strengths and weaknesses of the X1x00 hardware in all the games we tested in this article plus Battlefield 2.

    I would like to apologize for not getting more data together in time for this article, but I hope the extended performance tests will help make up for what was lacking here.

    And we've got more to come as well -- we will be doing an in-depth follow up on new feature performance and quality as well.

    Thanks,
    Derek Wilson
    Reply
  • MiLLeRBoY - Thursday, October 06, 2005 - link

    If NVIDIA puts out a 7800XT with a bigger cooler, which makes the video card dual slots, instead of just one slot. This would allow them to increase the speeds of the RAM and GPU. And if they increase it to 512MB ram, they will knock ATI’s X1800XT off the map completely. Reply
  • MiLLeRBoY - Thursday, October 06, 2005 - link

    oops, 7800 GTX, I mean, lol. Reply
  • stephenbrooks - Thursday, October 06, 2005 - link

    Maybe a solution for all the complaints about review-quality would be for AnandTech to put its reviews through "beta"? :p Reply
  • waldo - Thursday, October 06, 2005 - link

    So, I am back, and as always confused!

    Where are we now? We have at THG the same card beating teh 7800GTX hands down in several instances....and here at Anand, we have the ATI version barely holding its head above water.....talk about weird inconsistencies....someone is tweaking the numbers or the machines....one or the other.

    Some of me would like to give the nod to THG because they have a history of doing more accurate more complete video card reviews, but this is just crazy....can someone at Anand please explain, cause well, I know THG won't.
    Reply
  • tomoyo - Thursday, October 06, 2005 - link

    In terms of pricing, I think Nvidia has Ati beaten in every category of card currently.

    I think the competition that ATI is marketing each card against is as follows(even if the prices have a huge disparity currently):
    X1800XT vs 7800GTX
    X1800XL vs 7800GT
    X1600XT vs 6800/6600GT
    X1600Pro vs 6600GT/6600
    x1300Pro vs 6600
    x1300 vs 6200

    From what I've seen of the reviews from anandtech, techreport, and a couple other sources it looks like the X1800XT/XL are pretty competitive with their competition, however I really dislike the extra power consumption and of course the cost of the card. I think the 7800 is a far better solution in terms of most categories except a few minor features like having HDR/AA at the same time. It looks like it's possible the X1800 might have some gains in future games because of the better memory controller and threading pixel shader, but it seems rather useless for now.

    The x1600 looks like the biggest disappointment by far. It's nowhere near the league of the 6800 cards and barely outperforms the 6600gt, which has a huge price advantage. The x800gto2 looks like a far better card than the x1600 here. Personally I'm hoping nvidia does what's expected and puts out a 90nm 7600 that has a decent performance gain over the 6600gt. That might be one of the best silent computing cards around when it comes out. (I'm hoping to replace my 6600 with this now that the x1600 is no upgrade for me)

    The x1300 actually looks like the most promising chip to me. It's obviously not worthwhile for gamers, but I think it might turn out to be a pretty good drop-in card for non-gaming systems. It's all dependent on whether it can hit the price point for the under $100(or is that under $70) market well. It certainly looks like it'll outperform the 6200 and x300 and be the new standard for entry level systems... until nvidia's next entry card. Not to mention most of the x1x00 generation features are still included with the x1300 card.
    Reply
  • AtaStrumf - Thursday, October 06, 2005 - link

    Totaly disappointed in both ATi and AT.

    As for X1300 don't forget this is the best version out of X1300 family and I can't help but remember the FX 5200 Ultra, which looked great but was never really available, because they could not produce it at low enough price point. I think same will happen here.
    Reply
  • bob661 - Thursday, October 06, 2005 - link

    Very nice summary. Reply
  • andyc - Wednesday, October 05, 2005 - link

    So what card is the "real" competitor to the 7800GT, becuase frankly, I'm totally confused which card ATI is trying to use to compete against it. Reply
  • Pete - Wednesday, October 05, 2005 - link

    X1800XL. Reply

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