It's been two months since we first previewed the Radeon 8500 and in that short period of time a lot has happened.

Since then, ATI has officially launched their 7x00 series of cards - including the 7500 we had a look at in August. ATI has also been hard at work sorting out the issues with their flagship 8500 that we ran into two months ago. The Radeon 8500 and 7500 have also received increases in clock speed from the original specs they announced. This could indicate either higher yields on the cores or an even stronger desire to compete with NVIDIA after the release of their Titanium line of cards.

But by far the most surprising thing throughout this whole situation has been NVIDIA's reaction to the 8500. While we concluded our preview by saying that, assuming history did not repeat itself, the Radeon 8500 had a lot of potential, NVIDIA obviously saw a dangerous amount of potential in that card. We have never seen NVIDIA so concerned with a competitor's product launch before. Their paranoia was definitely well founded as the Radeon 8500 seemed impressive when we first looked at it; now, with even more memory bandwidth and a higher fill rate, is the Radeon 8500 NVIDIA's worst nightmare?

ATI Draws the Line

A confusing product line is the easiest way to lose sales regardless of how great your products are. ATI's introduction of the four-digit Radeon nomenclature is intended to give everyone, at a single glance, an idea of how powerful cards are within a particular family. Unfortunately, with differences in memory types and the presence (or lack thereof) of a full fledged hardware T&L engine, ATI's new naming system can be a bit frustrating to more educated buyers and even more so to developers. Let's take a look at the past and present Radeon cards and see how they compare to one another:

 
ATI's Radeon Line: Past & Present
 
8500
7500
7200
7000
DDR
LE
SDR
VE
Core (Number of Transistors)
R200 (60M)
RV200 (30M)
Rage6C (30M)
RV100
Rage6C (30M)
Rage6C (30M)
Rage6C (30M)
RV100
Manufacturing Process (circuit width in microns)
0.15
0.15
0.18
0.18
0.18
0.18
0.18
0.18
Rendering Pipelines
4
2
2
1
2
2
2
1
Texture Units per Pipeline
2
3
3
3
3
3
3
3
Core Clock Speed (MHz)
275
290
166
183
166/183 (oem/retail)
148
166
183
Memory Clock Speed
275
230
166
183
166/183 (oem/retail)
148
166
183
Memory Bus
128-bit DDR
128-bit DDR
128-bit SDR
64-bit DDR
128-bit DDR
128-bit DDR
128-bit SDR
64-bit DDR
Memory Bandwidth (GB/s)
8.8
7.4
2.7
2.9
5.3/5.9
4.7
2.7
2.9
Hardware T&L Supported
Y
Y
Y
N
Y
Y
Y
N
Programmable Pixel & Vertex Shaders
Y
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
HyperZ
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
N*
Y
Y
HyperZ II
Y
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
HydraVision
Y
N
N
N
N
N
N
Y
AnandTech Review

As you can see, the Radeon 7000 is essentially the Radeon VE without its dual display capabilities. This is actually the most irritating to developers since the chip does not have hardware T&L support, making it impossible to recommend that gamers purchase any Radeon or GeForce card to run their games.

The Radeon 7200 is a 64MB version of the Radeon SDR, and the rest of the lineup should be familiar to you already.

NVIDIA's Fears

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