ATI Radeon X1900 XTX And CrossFire: R580 Is Here

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In October of '05 ATI officially unveiled a new family of graphics cards based on the company's R520 GPU core and its derivatives. With the R520 ATI introduced a new "Ultra-Threaded" architecture, along with their new Ring Bus memory controller, and a more powerful video engine dubbed AVIVO, among numerous other things. Unfortunately though, the R520 and its derivatives, which were the first members of what eventually became known as the X1K family of products, were a long time coming. The move to a 90nm manufacturing process in conjunction with a simple circuit bug that was replicated throughout the chip, resulted in ATI missing almost an entire product cycle. For about four months, rival NVIDIA sat alone atop the 3D Graphics food chain with its GeForce 7800 GTX and 7800 GT. And rumors of ATI's inevitable demise were discussed in many a forum.  Hello?

Those rumors were, of course, unwarranted and simply the result of a major force in the industry hitting a few speed bumps during the development of a new, very complex product. In meetings and in conversations with representatives from ATI during the R520's development, we never got the impression that the company was desperate. Frustrated and disappointed sometimes, yes. But certainly not desperate.

And during the X1K launch event, and subsequent discussion since then, we got the impression ATI was supremely confident. Which was surprising, considering the problems the company had to contend with during the second half of last year. Today though, we know why. This morning, less than four months since the introduction of the R520, ATI is unveiling a new GPU and four new products based upon that GPU, the Radeon X1900 XTX, the X1900 XT, an All-In-Wonder Radeon X1900 and an X1900 CrossFire Master card.

The Radeon X1900 GPU was code-named R580 during its development. It is very similar to the R520 used on the Radeon X1800 XT, but with a couple of major changes.  Specifically a threefold increase in the number of pixel shader processors, and some updates that'll increase performance at ultra-high resolutions and with a certain type of soft shadow.  We'll go into more detail on the pages ahead.

ATI Radeon X1900 & CrossFire
Features & Specifications
Features - ATI Radeon X1900
• 380+ million transistors on a 90nm fabrication process
• Ultra-threaded architecture with fast dynamic branching
• Forty-Eight pixel shader processors
• Eight vertex shader processors
• 256-bit 8-channel GDDR3/GDDR4 memory interface
• Native PCI Express x16 bus interface
• Dynamic Voltage Control

Ring Bus Memory Controller
• 512-bit internal ring bus for memory reads
• Programmable intelligent arbitration logic
• Fully associative texture, color, and Z/stencil cache designs
• Hierarchical Z-buffer with Early Z test
• Lossless Z Compression (up to 48:1)
• Fast Z-Buffer Clear
• Z/stencil cache optimized for real-time shadow rendering
• Optimized for performance at high display resolutions, including widescreen HDTV resolutions


Ultra-Threaded Shader Engine
• Support for Microsoft DirectX 9.0 Shader Model 3.0 programmable vertex and pixel shaders in hardware
• Full speed 128-bit floating point processing for all shader operations
• Up to 512 simultaneous pixel threads
• Dedicated branch execution units for high performance dynamic branching and flow control
• Dedicated texture address units for improved efficiency
• 3Dc+ texture compression
_o High quality 4:1 compression for normal maps and two-channel data formats
_o High quality 2:1 compression for luminance maps and single-channel data formats
• Multiple Render Target (MRT) support
• Render to vertex buffer support
• Complete feature set also supported in OpenGL 2.0

Avivo Video and Display Engine
• High performance programmable video processor
_o Accelerated MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, WMV9, VC-1, and H.264 decoding (including DVD/HD-DVD/Blu-ray playback), encoding & transcoding
_o DXVA support
_o De-blocking and noise reduction filtering
_o Motion compensation, IDCT, DCT and color space conversion
_o Vector adaptive per-pixel de-interlacing
_o 3:2 pulldown (frame rate conversion)
• Seamless integration of pixel shaders with video in real time
• HDR tone mapping acceleration
_o Maps any input format to 10 bit per channel output
• Flexible display support
_o Dual integrated dual-link DVI transmitters
_o DVI 1.0 / HDMI compliant and HDCP ready
_o Dual integrated 10 bit per channel 400 MHz DACs
_o 16 bit per channel floating point HDR and 10 bit per channel DVI output
_o Programmable piecewise linear gamma correction, color correction, and color space conversion (10 bits per color)
_o Complete, independent color controls and video overlays for each display
_o High quality pre- and post-scaling engines, with underscan support for all outputs
_o Content-adaptive de-flicker filtering for interlaced displays
_o Xilleon™ TV encoder for high quality analog output
_o YPrPb component output for direct drive of HDTV displays
_o Spatial/temporal dithering enables 10-bit color quality on 8-bit and 6-bit displays
_o Fast, glitch-free mode switching
_o VGA mode support on all outputs
• Compatible with ATI TV/Video encoder products, including Theater 550
Advanced Image Quality Features
• 64-bit floating point HDR rendering supported throughout the pipeline
_o Includes support for blending and multi-sample anti-aliasing
• 32-bit integer HDR (10:10:10:2) format supported throughout the pipeline
_o Includes support for blending and multi-sample anti-aliasing
• 2x/4x/6x Anti-Aliasing modes
_o Multi-sample algorithm with gamma correction, programmable sparse sample patterns, and centroid sampling
_o New Adaptive Anti-Aliasing feature with Performance and Quality modes
_o Temporal Anti-Aliasing mode
_o Lossless Color Compression (up to 6:1) at all resolutions, including widescreen HDTV resolutions
• 2x/4x/8x/16x Anisotropic Filtering modes
_o Up to 128-tap texture filtering
_o Adaptive algorithm with Performance and Quality options
• High resolution texture support (up to 4k x 4k)


CrossFire
• Multi-GPU technology
• Four modes of operation:
_o Alternate Frame Rendering (maximum performance)
_o Supertiling (optimal load-balancing)
_o Scissor (compatibility)
_o Super AA 8x/10x/12x/14x (maximum image quality)
_o Program compliant


Radeon Graphics x 2


Radeon X1900 XTX


Radeon X1900 CrossFire Edition

There is a myriad of information related to the launch of the Radeon X1900 available on our site that will help you get familiar with the GPU's architecture and key features. The Radeon X1900 has a number of features in common with other cards in the Radeon X1K family of products, and we've detailed the features of the Radeon Xpress 200 chipset and CrossFire in a few past articles as well.

At a minimum, if you haven't already done so, we recommend reading our CrossFire Multi-GPU technology preview, the Radeon Xpress 200 preview, the X1K family review, and the Radeon X1800 CrossFire evaluation. In those four articles, we cover the vast majority of the features offered by the Radeon X1900. There is quite a bit of background information in those articles that laid the foundation for what we're going to showcase here today.


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