In addition to its new mainstream graphics offering, the
Radeon 9000, ATI Technologies, Inc. today announced its Radeon 9700 — a new high-end graphics product designed to replace the Radeon 8500 as ATI’s flagship system.
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ATI’s David Nalasco called his company’s approach to designing the new Radeon 9700 as “no holds barred” during a recent preview of the technology provided to MacCentral. Nalasco said that ATI sought to push the envelope as far as possible with the new graphics technology, without suffering the limitations usually imposed on bringing a new graphics chip to market.
Developed by the same ATI team that worked with Nintendo to create the graphics technology used by Nintendo’s GameCube video game console, the Radeon 9700 gets users a step closer to the holy grail of 3D graphics hardware developers — to see cinema-quality 3D graphics rendered in real time.
Up until now, said Nalasco, a lot of lip service has been paid in that respect, but it’s always been at a compromise. Full motion images emulating those seen in movies like Shrek or Monsters Inc. may have been shown on past graphics cards, but typically at much lower polygon counts and with fewer rendering effects than the movie producers’ hardware is capable of doing. “This is the first time that we can take the exact stuff that was used in the movies and render it in real time,” he said.
The secret to the new 9700’s impressive horsepower is a whole host of technical improvements: an eight pixel pipeline, 256 bit memory interface, 8x AGP support, a maximum frame buffer size of 256MB, and various other features that guarantee the 9700 can pump out more polygons and pixels than has ever been seen on an ATI chip in the past. The complexity of the chip is staggering — it has more than 100 million transistors on-board, more than twice as many as the CPUs installed in today’s leading computers.
ATI said that the Radeon 9700 Mac Edition board will be out this fall. Although the company did not specify price, it did say that the card will feature 128MB of double data rate (DDR) memory along with “dual display support for CRT and flat panel monitors.
“The Radeon 9700 will drive graphics technology to new heights, totally outperforming every graphics chip currently on the market,” said ATI senior vice president Rick Bergman.