ATI SMARTSHADER Technology - Powering the next generation Radeonby Matthew Witheiler on July 18, 2001 2:20 PM EST
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Update #2: NVIDIA has gotten permission from Microsoft to announce their DirectX 8.1 compliance as well. Take a look at page 3 for updated information regarding DirectX 8.1 and the differences between ATI's and NVIDIA's pixel shaders.
Update: Please see page 3 for updated information regarding DirectX 8.1, pixel shader 2.0, and what NVIDIA's response to the situation is.
It seems that Microsoft, not other video card manufacturers, has become the driving force behind the latest generation of video cards. The introduction of the DirectX 8 API has forced video card manufacturers to produce products that are compliant with this technology, meaning that many "new" video card features are not all that innovative, rather just implementations of Microsoft's DirectX 8 specification.
The high demands of DirectX 8 has already forced NVIDIA to release a product that supports 2 of the API's most touted features: vertex and pixel shaders. Promising fast, photo-realistic rendering, we knew it was just a matter of time before the vertex shader and pixel shader programmable parts got implemented in a broad range of high end video cards, not just NVIDIA's GeForce3. It seems that that time has begun to arrive with ATI's most recent technology announcement.
Although not a full product announcement, we recently had a chance to talk to ATI about their latest Radeon 2 technology that promises not only DirectX 8.0 compliance but also DirectX 8.1 compliance. Much like ATI's TRUFORM technology was an implementation of DirectX 8's n-patch technology, today we learn about how ATI's SMARTSHADER technology is an implementation of DirectX 8.1's vertex and pixel shader technologies.