With the release of NVIDIA's powerhouse 7800 series of graphics cards, we haven't been hearing a lot of noise lately at ATI's side of things. This is cause for speculation about whether ATI is playing catch-up, or waiting for the perfect moment to reveal the proverbial "ace-up-the-sleeve". Only time will tell.

It's a sad fact for ATI that NVIDIA is definitely ahead of the game right now, no matter how you look at it. This kind of reminds us of when NVIDIA launched their FX series; ATI was on top at the time with the Radeon 9700 and NVIDIA was basically just trying to hold on until NV40 came out. That's assuming, of course, that when it comes out, the R520 can actually measure up. Even ATI's Crossfire (ATI's dual card answer to NVIDIA's SLI), while no slouch, won't be released for a while yet, disappointingly.

Until then, though, for those with budget ATI cards, there's some good news. If you use an older ATI card and have already downloaded and installed the latest catalyst driver (catalyst 5.7), you may notice some games playing a little more smoothly for you. After talking to ATI, we learned that the secret behind this is something called HyperMemory.

We've already talked a little about HyperMemory, but hopefully, this article will shed some more light on what exactly it is and how ATI implements it in the latest version of their driver. The addition of HyperMemory to all drivers is essentially an all-around good thing, although it will benefit some more than others. Ultimately, we'll tell you exactly who will be very pleased, or just mildly pleased (or indifferent) with the results. But first, let's talk a little bit about HyperMemory.



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  • nserra - Tuesday, August 16, 2005 - link

    Why no one see if Ati claims are true?

    Well Why not test with the 6X AA....

    Maybe enabling AF will not make the same difference as not enabling it....

    Also I don’t understand the deal with always 4X AA.

    I play almost all games with no AA, or 2X AA with Temporal AA enabled and 4X AF or 8X. Some times I lower Mipmap Detail Level option to Quality because almost all games give 0% image quality difference. I do that with DOOM3 and got almost 5% performance increase.
  • Jeff7181 - Sunday, August 14, 2005 - link

    ... memory optimizations help most when the memory is the limit. Nice to get some free performance... too bad you have to have a crappy card with crappy frame rates to begin with in order to see that free performance. Reply
  • Rand - Saturday, August 13, 2005 - link

    It would have been nice had you tested how this impacted AGP and PCI-E graphics cards respectively, you commented that it should of course provide a greater benefit over PCI-E.

    Assuming you don't have any motherboards natively supporting PCI-E and AGP (Not the neutered AGP over PCI) you could have used an nForce 3 and nForce 4 board, given they perform quite similarly.
    Any chance of doing any such tests?

    On another note- what system did you test the cards on anyway?
    I don't believe you made any mention of the system configuration, it's always beneficial to know the system specifications.
  • OvErHeAtInG - Saturday, August 13, 2005 - link

    I did some extensive comparison benching with HL2 with 5.6 and 5.7 drivers. I run a 128MB 9800 Pro, 430/370, on a 4x AGP mobo, P4 2.85, 1GB DDR400 SC.

    I can second what they said about the 9700 Pro, as I had similar results. I play HL2 at 1280x1024, no AA. The only performance increases (as ATI specifies) come at that res and above WITH AA/AF enabled - which you do NOT play at with a 9800 pro.

    So, in other words, certain res/settings go from "unplayable" to "almost playable." Which is VERY impressive, but useless. I did see a 35-82% increase in frames (much larger than what AT got):

    HardwareOC Coast at 12x10, 4x8x:
    Catalyst 5.6: 36.3 fps
    Catalyst 5.7: 52.1 fps

    HardwareOC d13c17 at 12x10, 4x8x:
    Catalyst 5.6: 20.8 fps
    Catalyst 5.7: 37.9 fps

    At playable settings, we get a SLIGHT decrease in performance:

    Guru3d Demo4 12x10 noAAnoAF
    Catalyst 5.6: 103.3 fps
    Catalyst 5.7: 100.3 fps
  • Shadowmage - Sunday, August 14, 2005 - link

    Of course, this depends on what you call "playable" and "unplayable".

    For me, anything above 40fps is considered extremely playable.
  • OvErHeAtInG - Sunday, August 14, 2005 - link

    Yes... if it stays above 40 fps :p Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, August 13, 2005 - link

    Strange... I took almost no performance hit when enabling 4xAF on my old 9800Pro with HL2. (I don't have it anymore, sorry - no new benches.) Going from 1024x768 to 4xAA brought less than a 5% decrease in FPS, while 1280x1024 was about a 30% performance decrease. Enabling 4xAA at 1280x1024 was another 5 to 10% loss. Of course, that was last year with 4.10 or so Cats, so I don't know what happened in the intervening time. Reply
  • OvErHeAtInG - Sunday, August 14, 2005 - link

    4xAF only? Never tried it. Probably keeps it playable.

    I was using the HardwareOC benches at the time which seem to get held back by my CPU (which is weird), that's why I was running 12x10 4x8x to stress the card.

    At 10x7, one can run AA AF on this card, but not 12x10... if it's still smooth enough for you, different strokes different folks
  • pxc - Saturday, August 13, 2005 - link

    Performance went up on my XPRESS 200M 128MB w/HM laptop when I disabled the HyperMemory in the registry. :p I got rid of it before Cat 5.7 came out, so maybe the HM performance problems were fixed. Reply
  • AlexWade - Saturday, August 13, 2005 - link

    ATI has had final 64-bit drivers for a while. Is it possible to benchmark those compared to the same 32-bit? Reply

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