NVIDIA's Fears

While it was their Riva 128 that put NVIDIA on the map, it was their GeForce series of cards that made them a leader in the industry. The GeForce line, from the original 256 up to the current GeForce3 Ti 500, has been the most successful series of graphics cards we have ever seen. It is very clear that the vast majority of gamers use NVIDIA cards because of their performance and very reliable drivers. Looking at the AnandTech Community alone, out of 4911 members that have filled out their System Rigs page, over 3000 of them use NVIDIA cards -- that's over 60%. With all that NVIDIA has going for themselves, why on earth would they worried by a meager Radeon 8500?

 
ATI
NVIDIA
STMicro
 
Radeon
Radeon 7500
Radeon 8500
GeForce2 Pro
GeForce2 Ti 200
GeForce2 Ultra
GeForce3
GeForce3 Ti 200
GeForce3 Ti 500
Kyro II
Number of Transistors
30M
30M
60M
25M
25M
25M
57M
57M
57M
15M
Manufacturing Process (circuit width in microns)
0.18
0.15
0.15
0.18
??
0.18
0.15
0.15
0.15
0.18
Rendering Pipelines
2
2
4
4
4
4
4
4
4
2
Texture Units per Pipeline
3
3
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
1
Core Clock Speed (MHz)
183
290
275
200
250
250
200
175
240
175
Memory Clock Speed
183
230
275
200
200
230
230
200
250
175
Memory Bus
128-bit DDR
128-bit DDR
128-bit DDR
128-bit DDR
2 x 64-bit DDR
2 x 64-bit DDR
2 x 64-bit DDR
128-bit SDR
Memory Bandwidth (GB/s)
5.8
7.4
8.8
6.4
6.4
7.4
7.4
6.4
8.0
2.8
Special Features
HyperZ
HyperZ
HyperZ II
SmoothVision
   
Lightspeed Memory Architecture
HRAA
Deferred Renderer

It turns out that the Radeon 8500 isn't all that meager. In fact, the part has a greater fill rate and more memory bandwidth than NVIDIA's GeForce3 Ti 500. ATI's SMOOTHVISION AA is also supposedly better when it comes to visual quality and theoretically should incur a lesser or equal performance penalty to that of NVIDIA's Quincunx AA. And although support for Pixel Shader 1.4 isn't really a strong point of the Radeon 8500, John Carmack has already commented on the chip's future performance in Doom 3 saying that it will be able to render the game's many textures in as few as a single pass compared to the multiple passes that the GeForce3 would have to take.

There are some very valid causes for NVIDIA to be worried about the Radeon 8500, but none of their worries has any merit if ATI cannot get over their biggest problem: drivers.

Index Today's Radeon 8500

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