ATI Chipsets

Below you can see our breakdown of the GPU guide for ATI video cards:

ATI Craphics Chips Overview
DirectX 9 with PS2.0b and VS2.0 Support
X700 Pro RV410 8 1 6 128/256 128
X700 XT? RV410 500 1000 8 1 6 128/256 128
X800 SE? R420 425 800 8 1 6 128/256 256
X800 Pro R420 475 900 12 1 6 256 256
X800 GT? R420 425 900 16 1 6 256 256
X800 XT R420 500 1000 16 1 6 256 256
X800 XT? R423 500 1000 16 1 6 256 256
X800 XT PE R420 520 1120 16 1 6 256 256
X800 XT PE? R423 520 1120 16 1 6 256 256
DirectX 9 with PS2.0 and VS2.0 Support
9500 R300 275 540 4 1 4 64/128 128
9500 Pro R300 275 540 8 1 4 128 128
9550 RV350 250 400 4 1 2 64/128/256 128
9550 SE RV350 250 400 4 1 2 64/128/256 64
9600 RV350 325 400 4 1 2 128/256 128
9600 Pro RV350 400 600 4 1 2 128/256 128
9600 SE RV350 325 400 4 1 2 64/128/256 64
9600 XT RV360 500 600 4 1 2 128/256 128
X300 RV370 325 400 4 1 2 64/128/256 128
X300 SE RV370 325 400 4 1 2 64/128 64
X600 Pro RV380 400 600 4 1 2 128/256 128
X600 XT RV380 500 740 4 1 2 128/256 128
9700 R300 275 540 8 1 4 128 256
9700 Pro R300 325 620 8 1 4 128 256
9800 R350 325 600 8 1 4 128 256
9800 "Pro" R350/360 380 680 8 1 4 128/256 128
9800 Pro 128 R350/360 380 680 8 1 4 128 256
9800 Pro 256 R350/360 380 700 8 1 4 256 256
9800 SE 128 R350 325 580 8 1 4 128 128
9800 SE 256 R350 380 680 4 1 4 128 256
9800 XT R360 412 730 8 1 4 256 256
DirectX 8.1 with PS1.4 and VS1.1 Support
8500 LE R200 250 500 4 2 1 64/128 128
8500 R200 275 550 4 2 1 64/128 128
9000 RV250 250 400 4 1 1 64/128 128
9000 Pro RV250 275 550 4 1 1 64/128 128
9100 R200 250 500 4 2 1 64/128 128
9100 Pro R200 275 550 4 2 1 64/128 128
9200 SE RV280 200 333 4 1 1 64/128 64
9200 RV280 250 400 4 1 1 64/128/256 128
9200 Pro RV280 300 600 4 1 1 64/128 128
9250 RV280 240 400 4 1 1 128/256 128
DirectX 7
Radeon VE^ RV100 183 183 1 3 0 32 64
7000 PCI^ RV100 166 333 1 3 0 32? 64
7000 AGP^ RV100 183 366 1 3 0 32/64 64
Radeon LE R100 148 296 2 3 0.5 32 128
Radeon SDR R100 166 166 2 3 0.5 32/64 128
Radeon DDR R100 183 366 2 3 0.5 32/64 128
7200 R100 183 183 2 3 0.5 32/64 64
7500 LE RV200 250 360 2 3 0.5 32? 128
7500 AIW RV200 250 333 2 3 0.5 32? 128
7500 RV200 290 460 2 3 0.5 32/64 128
* RAM clock is the effective clock speed, so 250 MHz DDR is listed as 500 MHz.
** Textures/Pipeline is the number of unique texture lookups. ATI has implementations that can lookup 3 textures, but two of the lookups must be from one texture.
*** Vertex pipelines is estimated on certain architectures. NVIDIA says their GFFX cards have a "vertex array", but in practice it performs as shown.
^ Radeon 7000 and VE Series had their Transform and Lighting Engine removed, and hence cannot perform fixed function vertex processing.

As far as the various models are concerned, ATI has DX7, DX8.1, and DX9 parts, as well as an unofficial DX9 with SM2.0b support - unofficial due to the fact that Microsoft has not actually certified this "in between" version of DX9. ATI has features that are part of SM3.0, but they do not include the full SM3.0 feature set. When they enable their 2.0b features, they fail WHQL compliance. Since not having WHQL compliance creates concerns among users (the dreaded "This device driver is not certified for use by Microsoft" warning), ATI will turn them off by default, and many people will not know enough to reenable them. It may not seem like a big deal, but software companies are less likely to optimize for non-standard features - especially ones that are disabled by default - so SM3.0 is more likely to see support than SM2.0b.

Generalizing somewhat, we can say that each family of ATI cards outperforms the older generation cards. There are, of course, exceptions, such as the 9550/9600 SE cards which are outclassed by the older 8500/9100 models, and the performance of the 9200SE is rather anemic in comparison to the 7500 in the majority of games. However, the added features and performance tweaks usually make up for the difference in raw numbers, and so comparing performance between the various generations of hardware does not always work.

Older ATI cards lacked support for multi-sample antialiasing, resorting to super-sampling as an alternative. Super-sampling, if you don't know, simply renders the screen at a higher resolution and then filters it down to a lower resolution, and in most cases it is limited to a maximum of 1600x1200. The quality is actually quite good with super-sampling, but the performance hit is enormous. Only with the R3xx cores did ATI begin to support multi-sampling, which helps to these cards to beat the previous generation when AA is enabled. Of course, once ATI did begin supporting multi-sampling, they did it very well, and the quality of their rotated grid sampling was regarded as being superior to the NVIDIA FX line.

ATI has also done anisotropic filtering very well for quite some time, although many believe it is due to "cheats" or "unfair optimizations". The real difference between ATI's implementation of AF and NVIDIA's is that ATI used a faster distance calculation. "True" anisotropic filtering does not really exist as such, and in the end it really comes down to getting improved image quality without killing performance. Today, it is very difficult to distinguish between the optimized and unoptimized filtering methods that both companies employ, and ATI has said they will address any situations where their image quality suffers.

At present, it is worth mentioning that all of the 9800 series chips and X800 series chips use the same base core. ATI validates the chips and in cases where portions of the chips fail, they can deactivate some of the pipelines and still sell the chip as a "light" version. With the 9800 SE cards, some people were able to "soft mod" their chips into full 9800 Pro cards, but success was not guaranteed. There are rumors that the same can be done with the X800 Pro cards, although success seems to be relatively rare right now, likely due to the large size of the chips. As the manufacturing process improves, success rates should also improve, but it's still a gamble. 9500/Pro cards were also based off the more complex 9700/Pro chip, and quite a few people were able to mod these cards into faster versions, but the introduction of the 9600 series put an end to that. We do not recommend purchasing the lower end cards with the intent to soft mod unless you are willing to live with the consequences, namely that success is by no means guaranteed and it will void the warranty. In our opinion, the relatively small price difference just isn't enough to warrant the risk.

Index The Way It's Meant to be Played
POST A COMMENT

43 Comments

View All Comments

  • suryad - Monday, September 6, 2004 - link

    What about the mobility x800 graphics card? I didnt see that thrown into the mix? Reply
  • coldpower27 - Monday, September 6, 2004 - link

    Thank you Bloodshredder, yeh after reading a little about the Radeon LE, it's almost as good as a Radeon DDR, except with lower working frequencies.

    so if it's DDR then the correct no. are 148/296 and 32MB VRAM only.
    Reply
  • Bloodshedder - Monday, September 6, 2004 - link

    For the Radeon LE, I noticed a question mark next to the amount of RAM. I own one of these cards, and can confirm that 32MB DDR is the only configuration it comes in. Reply
  • Draven31 - Monday, September 6, 2004 - link

    You skipped which OpenGL version and features the various cards support... maybe add that when you add the various workstation cards to the listings... Reply
  • coldpower27 - Monday, September 6, 2004 - link


    Yeh, Nvidia learned it's lesson, last gen, with the 0.13 micron new at the time process delaying the introduction of the NV30, thy learned to play it safe using a tried and tested process is a good idea for such high complexity chips initially, though they of course plan to shift these chips to the 110nm process when the process matures enough, possibly on the NV48 and R480 hopefully allowing higher clocks in the process:D, maybe not for R480 unless low-k is ready for 110nm by that time.

    It does make more sense to use the newer manufacturing process to help save costs on the volume shipping GPU, as the cost savings will beaccumulated much better in the mainstream and value arena's thanks to sheer volume.

    We also see this with Intel, when Intel yields on the 90nm were only so so, they introduced Prescott up to 3.2GHZ in quanitity, but introduced their Pentium 4 3.4GHZ on the northwood core on 0.13 micron. Though over time Intel is making all efforts to transfer everything to 90nm, with Prescott and Prescott 2M w/1066FSB for EE Edition.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, September 6, 2004 - link

    8 - Intel does this as well, testing a new process on their non-flagship parts. For example, after the launch of the P4, Intel piloted their 130 nm copper technology with the Tualatin CPU before releasing the Northwood. It probably has something to do with the amount of extra time a more complex design takes to test and verify. Reply
  • stephenbrooks - Monday, September 6, 2004 - link

    Interesting how on the die sizes chart, I notice they're phasing in the 110nm process only for their mid-range-ish cards and sticking to the tried and tested 130nm for the high-end one. I suppose you can't blame them for that really, given it's their flagship product and all, but it could contribute to the huge die sizes. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, September 6, 2004 - link

    Thank, AtaStrumf - any errors in the numbers are ColdPower's fault. Heheheh. Really, he already caught a bunch of small mistakes, so hopefully the number of remaining errors is very small.

    For what it's worth, there are various versions of some of the chips that have different clock speeds and RAM speeds from what is listed. The models in the chart should reflect the most common configurations, though.

    BTW, the article text is now tweaked somewhat on the ATI and NVIDIA overview pages. Derek Wilson provided some additional insight on the subject of AA and AF that clarified things a little.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, September 6, 2004 - link

    Argon was the name for the .25 micron K7, while Pluto and Orion were .18 micron.

    #2 and #4: I realize you're kidding, but in all seriousness we did think about including other architectures. With the broken features on some of the more recent cards and the lack of T&L on 3dfx and older cards, we just decided to stick with the two major players. And hey - it's all fair, as we didn't include Cyrix/Via or Transmeta processors in the CPU cheatsheet! ;)
    Reply
  • AtaStrumf - Monday, September 6, 2004 - link

    OMFG, this is awsome!!!! You really outdid youself this time! I have been collecting data on GPUs for quite a while and have been planing on making a spreadsheet just like the first two for my, so called, web site, but WAU, this rocks. Thanks for saving me a lot of work :)

    When I get the time, I'll check your munbers a bit, just to make sure there aren't any typos in there.
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now