At this week’s
Macworld Conference & Expo, graphics card and chip maker
ATI Technologies Inc.
is showing off a forthcoming card that may be of interest to gamers looking to get the most out of the potential of their Power Mac G5 systems — the Radeon 9800 Pro Mac Special Edition.
The new card address two complaints of some high-end users considering ATI’s current top-end retail for Mac users — the absence of an ADC connector, and a total of 256MB of on-board video RAM, twice what the current Radeon 9800 Pro Mac Edition card includes — useful for high-resolution, graphically intensive games that load large amounts of texture and geometry data into the card’s memory.
Based on the same design as the OEM card that ATI produces for Apple for certain Power Mac G5 models, the Radeon 9800 Pro Mac Special Edition features the same moderately higher clock speed as the existing Mac retail product.
ATI desktop product manager Stan Ossias explained to MacCentral that the current Radeon 9800 Pro Mac Edition features DVI instead of ADC — the interface used by Apple’s flat panel displays — because ATI wanted to offer the card both to G5 users and to Power Mac G4 users. Because of the Radeon 9800 chip’s power consumption rates, Power Mac G4s lack sufficient juice to power both the card and the monitor.
Apple’s solution to that problem with the Power Mac G5 is to use an AGP Pro slot — which it’s logically similar to the AGP slots found on G4s, it provides more power to the card, making it possible to keep both the card and an ADC monitor attached to the card sufficiently charged. As a result, the Radeon 9800 Pro Mac Special Edition is exclusively for the Power Mac G5 and cannot be installed in older systems.
Look for ATI to offer specific release schedule information soon; the card will retail for US$469 once it’s released. ATI plans to continue to offer the existing Radeon 9800 Pro Mac Edition card as well.
In related news, ATI is also quietly showing off a Blue & White Power Mac G3 system equipped with a prototype PCI card based on the Radeon 9000 architecture. The card is equipped with DVI, VGA and S-Video jacks, so it can be attached to digital flat panel displays, analog displays or a television.
ATI’s existing PCI based card is based on the slower, less capable Radeon 7000 architecture. ATI’s Chris Bentley told MacCentral that while some games played on the new prototype 9000 board may be constrained by the Mac’s CPU clock speed — unless they’ve been upgraded with third-party CPU replacements — the card will definitely provide qualitative improvements for the game-playing abilities of older systems.
Pricing and a release date for the prototype card were unavailable as MacCentral posted this article. ATI can be found in booth 1017 at the Moscone Center. Macworld Expo runs through January 9.