ATI Radeon 9700 Pro 128Mb DDR

Wednesday, October 23, 2002


When the ATI Radeon 9700 Pro hit the market, it's performance blew everyone away -- including nVidia, the longtime ruler of the graphics card marketplace.

nVidia has spent a great deal of time, and gained alot of experience in the art of GPU design and manufacturing over the last few years, so few people expected such a sudden upset.

After all, Matrox failed to pick-up much attention with their new "Parhelia" card, STmicroelectronics has retreated so far from the market that the "Kyro III" is unlikely to ever see the light of day, and ATI's Radeon 7000, 7500, and 8500 with nVidia's own offerings rapidly faded out of the attention of hard gamers. By all accounts, the GeForce gurus had it all wrapped-up.

And then a little Canadian outfit threw a wildcard on the table, and threw the whole status-quo out of whack.

While ATI has had its own share of victories behind it, the newest, and most shining example of their success is undoubtedly the Radeon 9700 Pro -- the card with enough punch to throw nVidia through the loop.

ATI has even decided to distinguish themselves a little further from their prime competitor, by referring to their newest chip as a "VPU", or "Video Processing Unit", instead of a "GPU", or "Graphics Processing Unit", as such units was typically called down at nVidia HQ.

The 9700 Pro VPU is manufactured using a 0.15 micron lithographic process, and contains no fewer than 110 million transistors -- which makes it the most elaborate graphics engine currently in production. The VPU even supports DirectX 9, which hasn't yet been released out to the public yet. The Radeon 9700 Pro is also the first graphics card to support AGP 8X -- a standard that many mainboards have trouble with.

The 9700 Pro core clocks-in at 325MHz, while its DDR memory chugs along at 310MHz (620MHz DDR effective). Thanks to its support for AGP 8X, it also has 2.1Gbit/sec of bandwidth sitting between it and main-memory, compared to the 1Gbit/sec supported by AGP 4X. The on-card memory bandwidth, though, clocks in at a stately 19.8Gbit/sec, thanks to its 256-bit wide bus, nearly double that of the GeForce 4 Ti4600.

The Radeon 9700 Pro also compares well to the GeForce 4 Ti4600 in terms of their respective number of logical units; the 9700 comes complete with four Vertex Shaders, and eight Pixel Pipelines -- twice that of the Ti4600.

And, to top it all off, the new Radeon also comes with two 10-bit, 400MHz RAMDACs, as well as an integrated 165MHz TMDS transmitter.

In short, the 9700 Pro is armed to the teeth, and it isn't afraid to show it and face any competitors. After all, ATI is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, graphic card manufacturer on the market and they're pretty used to the competition. A lot of graphic card manufacturers crossed the battle fields since ATI were born but ATI is still always there while most of these manufacturers evaporated in the nature.


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