Take all the clichés used to describe a long overdue event or the unexpected fulfillment of a promise (hot places freezing, heavy animals soaring through the air, etc...) and you still couldn't say enough to fully proclaim the news that ATI has finally properly hard launched a product. That's right, looking around the internet this morning has provided us with the joyous realization that the Radeon X1900XT, XTX, and CrossFire parts are available for purchase. We've tried to keep an eye on the situation and it's been quite easy to see that ATI would be able to pull it off this time. Some sites started taking preorders earlier in the week saying their X1900 parts would ship in one to two days, putting the timeframe right on the mark. There were no missing dongles, no problems with customs, and ATI told us last week that thousands of parts had already been delivered to manufacturers.

And if that isn't enough to dance about, ATI has delivered a hugely powerful part with this launch. The Radeon X1900 series is no joke, and every card featuring the name is a behemoth. With triple the pixel shader units of the X1800 XT, and a general increase in supporting hardware throughout the pixel processing engine, ATI's hugely clocked 384 Million transistor GPU is capable of crunching enormous volumes of data very quickly. Fill rate isn't increased very much because the X1900 series still only allows 16 pixels to be drawn to the screen per clock cycle, but power is delivered where it is needed most. With longer and more complex shader programs, pixels need to stay in the shader engine longer which further shifts the performance burden from the theoretical maximum fill rate.

NVIDIA would like us to compare the X1900's increase in ALU (arithmetic logic unit) power to what they did with the FX 5900 after NV30 tanked. Certainly, increasing the math power (and increasing memory bandwidth) helped NVIDIA, but fortunately for ATI the X1900 is not derived from a fundamentally flawed GPU design. The X1800 series are certainly not bad parts, even if they are being completely replaced by the X1900 in ATI's lineup.

I'll spoil the results and make it clear that the X1900XT and XTX are hands down the best cards out there right now. But all positives aside, ATI needed this card to hard launch with good availability, perform better than anything else, and look good doing it. There have been too many speed bumps in ATI's way for there to be any room for a slip up on this launch, and it looks like they've pulled it off. The launch of the X1900 series not only puts ATI back on top, but (much more importantly) it puts them back in the game. Let's hope that both ATI and NVIDIA can keep up the good fight.

But let's not forget why we're here. The first thing we are going to do is talk about what makes the R580 GPU that powers the X1900 series so incredibly good at what it does.

R580 Architecture
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  • bob4432 - Thursday, January 26, 2006 - link

    Good for ATI, after some issues in the not so distant past it looks like the pendulum has swung back in their direction.

    i really like this, it should drop the 7800GT prices down maybe to the ~$200-$220(hoping, as nvidia want to keep the market hold...) which would actually give me a reason to switch to some flavor of pci-e based m/b, but being display limited @ 1280x1024 with a lcd, my x800xtpe is still chugging along nicely :)
  • Spoelie - Thursday, January 26, 2006 - link

    it won't, they're in a different pricerange alltogether, prices on those cards will not drop before ati brings out a capable competitor to it.
  • neweggster - Thursday, January 26, 2006 - link

    How hard would it be for this new series of cards by ATI to be optimized for all benchmarking softwares? Well ask yourself that, I just got done talking to a buddy of mine whos working out at MSI. I swear I freaked out when he said that ATI is using an advantage they found by optimizing the new R580's to work better with the newest benchmarking programs like 3Dmark 06 and such. I argued with him thats impossible, or is it? Please let me know, did ATI possibly use optimizations built into the new R580 cards to gain this advantage?
  • Spoelie - Thursday, January 26, 2006 - link

    how would validating die-space on a gpu for cheats make any sense? If there is any cheat it's in the drivers. And no, the only thing is that 3dmark06 needs 24bit DST's for its shadowing and that wasn't supported in the x1800xt (uses some hack instead) and it is supported now. Is that cheating? The x1600 and x1300 have support for this as well btw, and they came out at the same time as the x1800.

    Architecturally optimizing for one kind of rendering being called a cheat would make nvidia a really bad company for what they did with the 6x00/Doom3 engine. But noone is complaining about higher framerates in those situations now are they?
  • Regs - Thursday, January 26, 2006 - link

    ....Where in this article do you see a 3D Mark score?
  • mi1stormilst - Thursday, January 26, 2006 - link

    It is not impossible, but unless your friend works in some high level capacity I would say his comments at best are questionable. I don't think working in shipping will qualify him as an expert on the subject?
  • coldpower27 - Wednesday, January 25, 2006 - link">

    "Notoriously demanding on GPUs, F.E.A.R. has the ability to put a very high strain on graphics hardware, and is therefore another great benchmark for these ultra high-end cards. The graphical quality of this game is high, and it's highly enjoyable to watch these cards tackle the F.E.A.R demo."

    Wasn't use of this considered a bad idea as Nvidia cards have a huge performance penalty when used in this and the final buuld was supposed to be much better???
  • photoguy99 - Wednesday, January 25, 2006 - link

    I noticed 1900x1440 is commonly benchmarked -

    Wouldn't the majority of people with displays in this range have 1920x1200 since that's what all the new LCDs are using? And it's the HD standard.

    Aren't LCDs getting to be pretty capable game displays? My 24" Acer has a 6 ms (claimed) gray to gray response time, and can at least hold it's own.

    Resolution for this monitor and almost all others this large: 1920x1200 - not 1920x1440.
  • Per Hansson - Wednesday, January 25, 2006 - link

    Doing the math:

    Crossfire = 459w - 1900XTX = 341w = 118w, efficiency of PSU used@400w=78% so 118x0.78=92,04w
  • Per Hansson - Friday, January 27, 2006 - link

    No replies huh? Cause I've read on other sites that the card draws upto 175w... Seems like quite a stretch so that was why I did the math to start with...

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