ATI All-In-Wonder RADEON 9600 Pro (PT2)

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ATi's All-In-Wonder 9600 Pro Unveiled (PT2)
ATi Releases Their Best All-In-Wonder Yet

By: Jeff Bouton
October 6th, 2003

 
 

Hot on the heels of the latest news regarding the Radeon 9800XT, ATi have delivered on another front, finally releasing the All-In-Wonder 9600 Pro.  Back in early August ATi gave us a taste of what was on the way, with the latest All-In-Wonder sporting some unique new features not found on previous models.  Now, two long months later to the day, the new All-In-Wonder 9600 Pro is here.

If there is one thing that is a true signature of the All-In-Wonder series, it's ATi's continuing ability to fit more and more features onto a seemingly shrinking PCB.  This is where their innovation really shows, taking inventive approaches to make what would appear impossible, possible.  As the years have gone by, each new All-In-Wonder tops the next with additional features being added without an increased need for real estate.  With their latest model, it's the All-In-Wonder's ability to support dual monitor output that steals the show.  This has always been a sticking point with these cards, boasting great TV/Multimedia features yet limiting the user to one monitor output.  This can be a tough pill to swallow, especially when you are shelling out several hundred dollars for a high-end TV/Video card that lacks features that can be found on a standard video card.  I can remember being in this situation a few years ago when I installed a new All-In-Wonder Radeon 8500 Pro into my machine.  This was one seriously good card, with a lot of great features, awesome performance, and let's not forget that nifty Remote Wonder.  But as time went on, I really began to miss the second monitor, which I had used for 6 months prior.  Ultimately, the practical need for a second monitor won over any positive feelings that I had for the 8500 Pro in favor of a standard card with the two monitor outputs that was so dearly missed.  Since that day, I've waited for a card just like the All-In-Wonder 9600 Pro to arrive.  When we got a taste of what was to come in late summer, we realized the wait was finally over.  We can only hope the wait was worth it.

Since the preview we posted in August, the final release edition of the All-In-Wonder 9600 Pro sported a few changes.  Some of these changes were out of economic necessity and others simply added more options to an already impressive looking card out of the box.  Read on to see if ATi has delivered again with their latest addition to the All-In-Wonder family, the All-In-Wonder 9600 Pro.
 

Features of the All-In-Wonder 9600 Pro
Is That Dual Monitor We See?



  

Click to Enlarge

 

GRAPHICS TECHNOLOGY

  • RV350 Visual Processing Unit (VPU)

  • Core Clock Speed 400MHz

MEMORY CONFIGURATION

  • 128MB of DDR RAM

  • 325MHz DDR / 650MHz Effective Speed

  • 128-bit Memory Interface

3D GRAPHICS FEATURES

  • Four parallel rendering pipelines process up to 1.6 billion pixels per second

  • High precision 10-bit per channel frame buffer support

  • 128-bit DDR memory interface

  • AGP 8X support

SMARTSHADER 2.1

  • Full support for Microsoft® DirectX® 9.0 programmable pixel and vertex shaders in hardware

  • 2.0 Pixel Shaders support up to 16 textures per rendering pass

  • 2.0 Vertex Shaders support vertex programs up to 1024 instructions with flow control

  • New 128-bit per pixel floating point color formats

  • Multiple Render Target (MRT) support

  • Shadow volume rendering acceleration

  • Complete feature set also supported in OpenGL via extensions

SMOOTHVISION 2.1

  • State-of-the-art full-scene anti-aliasing

  • New technology processes up to 15.6 billion anti-aliased samples per second for unprecedented performance

  • Supports 2x, 4x, and 6x modes with programmable sample patterns

  • Advanced anisotropic filtering

  • Supports up to 16 bilinear samples (in performance mode) or trilinear samples (in quality mode) per pixel

  • 2x/4x/6x full scene anti-aliasing modes

  • Adaptive algorithm with programmable sample patterns

  • 2x/4x/8x/16x anisotropic filtering modes

  • Adaptive algorithm with bilinear (performance) and trilinear (quality) options

  • Bandwidth-saving algorithm enables this feature with minimal performance cost

HYPERZ III+

  • Hierarchical Z-Buffer and Early Z Test reduce overdraw by detecting and discarding hidden pixels

  • Lossless Z-Buffer Compression and Fast Z-Buffer Clear reduce memory bandwidth consumption by over 50%

  • Fast Z-Buffer Clear

DISPLAY SUPPORT

  • 15-pin VGA connector for analog CRT / DVI-I connector for digital CRT or flat panel

  • S-video or composite connector for TV/VCR

  • Independent resolutions and refresh rates for any two connected displays

GENERAL FEATURES

  • Comprehensive 2x, 4x, and 8x AGP support

  • DDR memory interface supports 64/128/256MB configurations

  • Fully compliant with PC 2002 requirements

  • Optimized for Pentium® 4 SSE2 and AMD Athlon? 3Dnow! processor instructions

  • Supports optional THEATER? 200 companion chip for NTSC/PAL/SECAM video capture

  • Highly optimized 128-bit 2D engine with support for new Windows® XP GDI extensions

VIDEO FEATURES

VIDEOSHADER

  • Seamless integration of programmable pixel shaders with video data

  • High quality, hardware accelerated de-blocking of internet streaming video

  • Noise removal filter for captured video

  • Integrated MPEG-2 decode

  • Hardware accelerated iDCT, motion compensation, and color space conversion

  • Top quality DVD and all-format DTV/HDTV decode with low CPU overhead

  • Back-end scaler delivers top quality playback

  • Upscaling and downscaling with 4-tap horizontal and vertical filtering

  • Filtered display of images up to 1920 pixels wide

  • Unique per-pixel adaptive de-interlacing feature combines the best elements of the ?bob? and ?add-field? (weave) techniques

FULLSTREAM

  • Noise removal filtering for captured video

  • MPEG-2 decoding with motion compensation, iDCT and color space conversion

  • All-format DTV/HDTV decoding

  • YPrPb component output

  • Adaptive de-interlacing and frame rate conversion

  • Dual integrated display controllers

  • Dual integrated 10-bit per channel 400MHz DACs

  • Integrated 165 MHz TMDS transmitter (DVI and HDCP compliant)

  • Integrated TV Output support up to 1024x768 resolution

  • Optimized for Pentium® 4 SSE2 and AMD Athlon? 3Dnow!

  • PC 2002 compliant

DISPLAY FEATURES

  • Dual integrated display controllers

  • Drive two displays simultaneously with independent resolutions and refresh rates

  • HYDRAVISION? software provides complete control over multi-display configurations with a user-friendly interface

  • Dual integrated 10-bit per channel palette DACs operating at up to 400MHz

  • Integrated 165MHz TMDS transmitter supports resolutions up to QXGA (2048x1536) and complies with DVI and HDCP specifications

  • Integrated TV-Out support up to 1024x768 resolution

  • YPrPb output for direct drive of HDTV monitors

HOME ENTERTAINMENT FEATURES

  • Stereo TV tuner with 125 channels

  • TV-ON-DEMAND? records programs on your hard drive, pauses live TV and resumes broadcasts on your schedule

  • FM-ON-DEMAND?

  • Gemstar GUIDE Plus+? provides interactive programming guides to select, schedule and record favorite shows

  • MULTIMEDIA CENTER? 8.6, industry leading suite of integrated multimedia applications

  • ATI?s new EAZYLOOK?? remote control user interface

  • REMOTE WONDER II - Radio frequency wireless remote adds the flexibility of a hand held, 30 foot user interface

  • Video capture and editing including DVD and VideoCD Authoring

  • THRUVIEW? creates live, translucent TV, video and DVD windows for easy desktop access

  • MulTView? enables dual TV tuner capabilities including Picture-in-Picture and independent channel surfing*

  • THEATER? 200 video decoder and stereo audio processor with S/PDIF output

  • Component Video output via a YPrPb adapter (Adapter Included)


The Bundle:

While not quite ready for primetime, the All-In-Wonder 9600 Pro package we received for review was as close to the retail package as can be.  This, however, didn't stop ATi from throwing in a few surprises along the way.  The box included virtually every necessary piece of hardware to utilize all of the card's capabilities.  Including the card itself, the retail package will include the following:



Installation Setup Poster
Installation Setup Guide
ATi Driver/Setup CD

Bonus Software
Pinnacle Studio 8 - ATi Edition
Matchware Mediator 7
muvee autoProducer
Half-Life 2

Bonus Hardware
Remote Wonder w/Remote Receiver (batteries included)
Video/Audio Input Block
Video/Audio Output Dongle
6' Composite Video Cable
6' S-Video Cable

As we eluded to earlier, the release version of the All-In-Wonder 9600 Pro had a few things that were different that what was expected.  For one, the retail package will come with the Remote Wonder, not the Remote Wonder II as originally plugged.  The logic behind this is simple.  When ATi surveyed users of the All-In-Wonder series, most were mainly using the All-In-Wonder on their PCs with few integrating it into their entertainment system.  That means there are a lot of Remote Wonders floating around that are simply not being used, which is a shame.  So to be sure they were not throwing money away unnecessarily, ATi changed their approach.  Now each All-In-Wonder 9600 Pro will include a Remote Wonder that can be upgraded to a Remote Wonder II upon request for a small shipping and handling charge.  This is one of those moves that help ensure the best dollar-to-value ratio of the card.

One of the other major surprises is that ATi will be including a full version copy of the much anticipated Half-Life 2 when it is released!  Initially, retail packages will include a voucher with a code to download or request a CD after Half-Life 2 is released, and once the game is ready for primetime, the full version CD will be included in the package.  This is a huge bonus that sets a new standard with video card bundles.  Instead of including antiquated games that use yesterdays technology, ATi will give you the latest in DirectX9 gaming so you can experience the full gaming potential of the All-In-Wonder 9600 Pro without shelling out extra cash for a $50 game.  This is a major statement that ATi is confident in their new card running one of the most anticipated DX9 games to date.  What else is there to say?  Bravo!

Notice how earlier we said "The box included virtually every necessary piece of hardware..."  With all of these trimmings, one of the most obvious omissions in our opinion is the lack of an FM antennae.  Some users are going to be sorely disappointed when they have to run to their local Radio Shack to find an antennae for their new card.  For those of you whose cable company provides FM over the cable lines, a simple splitter will suffice, but the rest of us are left high and dry.  With the history ATi has had with the All-In-Wonder, typically providing a complete package, we are a bit surprised and disappointed with the lack of this seemingly simple component.
 

The All-In-Wonder 9600 Pro
It's Finally Here!

It never ceases to amaze us how ATi manages to add more and more features with each new All-In-Wonder, yet the PCB never gets any larger.  This really is their strength and why they are at the top of their industry.  Instead of adding so many features that the card takes up two slots, ATi takes a more finesse approach that raises the bar in design and innovation.  The All-In-Wonder is built with the RV350 VPU at its core.  Like the original Radeon 9600 Pro, the VPU is clocked at 400MHz. and is complimented by 128MB of DDR RAM clocked at 325MHz, 25MHz higher than the Radeon 9600 Pro.  When we did a little research on the Samsung BGA memory, we found they have a peak rating of 3.2GB/s and a top speed of 350MHz (700MHz DDR), leaving us a little headroom for overclocking. 

The edge of the card is as tidy as its layout, condensing all of the All-In-Wonder's functions through four major connections.  Two coaxial connections are provided, one for TV and the other for FM reception.  Below those is the single connector ATi has designed to marry up with their proprietary Video/Audio Output dongle that expands the features of the card, providing dual VGA output, audio output and TV-Out functions.  Lastly is the input connection designed to work in conjunction with the Video/Audio Input Block to support the card's input capabilities.

Driving the multimedia functions is the potent Theater 200 processor and Philips Tuner.  The Theater 200 is both an audio and video processor that handles all of the video capture capabilities, even supporting High Definition inputs.  The Philips tuner is capable of both TV and FM tuning and works in conjunction with the Theater 200 to handle TV output as well as Time Shifting with both video and FM.

We feel like we've been down this road before, with ATi impressing us with their newest All-In-Wonder's potential.  Once again their latest creation grabs our attention with its design and multimedia functions.  The next thing to do is put this card through its paces in the benchmarking arena to help size up just how good it is.

Hothardware Test System & Benchmarking

Tags:  ATI, Radeon, pro

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