Making good on its Comdex promise to deliver the Radeon graphics processor core to as many markets as possible, ATI began shipping its Radeon VE to the business and productivity segments of the PC market. “With the Radeon VE, we viewed 3D gaming as a checkmark feature for a more broadly useful lower cost graphics card for the productivity market,” said Brian Hentschell media relations manager at ATI. The Radeon VE offers respectable 3D graphics performance in addition to dual monitor support and strong 2D graphics performance.
Shipping now, the Radeon VE retails for US$129 and should see a street price of $99, said Hentschell. The Radeon VE has a VGA out, a DVI — Digital Video Interface for many flat panel displays — and an S-Video out. The retail version is an AGP 4X card with 32MB of DDR RAM. ATI also has 16MB DDR and 64MB DDR versions available for OEM customers. The Radeon VE also supports DVD playback.
While there are no announced plans for the Radeon VE to be brought to the Mac, Hentschell said that ATI is looking to bring the Radeon VE to as many markets as possible. “We are talking to the top ten OEM PC manufacturers — Apple included — about the Radeon VE,” said Hentschell.
ATI believes that OEM PC manufacturers, many who sell PCs directly to corporate and government buyers, want a certain level of 3D graphics, but are not interested in paying for the high-end Radeon’s level of 3D performance. Also, these customers are looking for the best value for driving strong 2D graphics in business and productivity applications. The Radeon VE is expected to fill this niche.
To further increase the value of the Radeon VE to productivity customers, ATI has given it the ability to drive two monitors. While software for this has existed within the Mac OS for years, ATI provides its own HydraVision software to manage multiple monitors on PCs. HydraVision works similarly to the Mac’s multiple monitor settings. An additional monitor can provide added desktop real estate or can mirror the other monitor. Two VGA monitors can be connected to the Radeon VE through a dongle provided by ATI that converts the DVI into a VGA output. HydraVision also can assign hot key shortcuts to help users manage multiple applications on multiple monitors. Finally, users can set HydraVision to remember where windows are set on either monitor when an application is opened.
The Radeon VE supports the DirectX 7.0, 8.0 and OpenGL 3D protocols. Within a 3D environment, the 32MB DDR Radeon VE can support a screen size up to 1920×1440 at 16-bit color and 1920×1200 at 32-bit color. In 2D, the 32MB DDR Radeon VE can manage a screen size up to 2048×1536 in 32bit color at a refresh rate of 60Hz. At the sweet spot for many users — 1600×1200 at 32-bit color — the 32MB DDR Radeon VE supports a refresh rate of 100Hz. The Radeon VE has all of ATI’s 3D and DVD hardware features of the standard Radeon, including ATIs Hyper Z, Pixel Tapestry Architecture and Video Immersion technologies.