Following details posted late last week on MacCentral, graphics card and chip maker ATI Technologies Inc. recently provided more details about its forthcoming Radeon 9000 Mac Edition card, and responded to rumors about a Mac-compatible version of its popular All In Wonder cards.
As MacCentral previously reported, the Radeon 9000 Mac Edition card is tantalizingly close to release as a retail product. It’s a mainstream graphics card and chip design developed to compete with Nvidia Corp.’s GeForce4 MX. The card offers better gaming performance than the Radeon 7000 Mac Edition at a lower price than the Radeon 8500 Mac Edition. An OEM version of the Radeon 9000 has been available on the Power Mac G4 since July, and the retail version of that card is expected to hit store shelves in the next few weeks.
ATI Mac desktop products manager Stan Ossias told MacCentral than the new card would debut at a suggested retail price of “under US$200.” The PC equivalent of the Radeon 9000 Mac Edition carries a suggest retail price of $149. ATI’s Mac retail products historically skew higher in price than their PC equivalents, and street prices for ATI retail products are often less (sometimes dramatically) than suggested retail prices.
Whither ADC on older Macs?
Equipped with a 4x AGP interface, the Radeon 9000 Mac Edition is the first ATI retail card to feature an Apple Display Connector (ADC), suitable for connecting the card directly to a new Apple Cinema or Studio Display (as well as certain Formac flat panel displays that also sport ADC). The Radeon 9000 Mac Edition also has a second monitor connector — a Digital Visual Interface (DVI) — that enable it to drive a separate digital flat panel display. (Two displays can be driven off the single card simultaneously.)
First implemented on Gigabit Ethernet-equipped Power Mac G4s, ADC routes power through the internal AGP expansion interface on the Power Mac’s motherboard, enabling a flat panel monitor to use just one cable for power, video and USB signals.
AGP support preceded ADC support on the Power Mac G4 line, however. There are Power Mac G4 systems that don’t have the necessary hardware to support ADC connectors. Power Mac G4s equipped with AGP interfaces but lacking Gigabit Ethernet hardware fall into such a category. How will the card work for them? Just fine, said Ossias, although the ADC connector won’t work without an adapter.
“The DVI port will support DVI flat panels and a DVI-VGA adapter is included in the box to connect CRT’s,” explained Ossias. “In order to support a second display on non-ADC systems the user will have to purchase an ADC-to-VGA or ADC-to-DVI Extractor from Dr Bott.”
This precludes such systems from using an ADC display, but it means that they will be able to utilize multiple flat panel displays with the purchase of a $40 adapter.
If you don’t want to spend money on an adapter, ATI will continue to sell the Radeon 8500 Mac Edition card to support non-ADC capable Power Macs, according to Ossias. “The RADEON 8500 Mac Edition has basically the same performance as the 9000 but includes VGA, DVI and TV adapters,” he said.
No All in Wonder coming “in the near term”
Ossias also downplayed suggestions that ATI is planning to release an All in Wonder card for the Macintosh, while stopping short of refuting such rumors all together.
ATI’s All In Wonder cards combine video output capabilities with video input functions. TV tuning, infrared remote control access and other features combine to turn an All In Wonder-equipped PC into a veritable home entertainment system. Ossias noted that a Mac-compatible All In Wonder card “is a popular request” from ATI’s Mac customers.
“ATI maintains active ongoing [research and development] in this and other product areas for Macintosh that may or may not materialize as products,” he said. “We’re not planning to release anything like this in the near term though.”