ATI Mobility Radeon X700 Showcase

Introduction, Specifications & The Notebook

Mobile Graphics technology is advancing at a fevered pace. In a little over a year, the once dominant Mobility Radeon 9600 was eclipsed by the Mobility Radeon 9700. Then, the MR 9700 was surpassed by the Mobility Radeon 9800, which itself was recently eclipsed by the Mobility Radeon X800.  ATI's mobile GPUs went from 4, to 8, to 12 pixel pipelines, they now have essentially the same feature sets as their desktop equivalents, and they have frame buffers as large as 256MB. And these are only the high-end mobile products to come from ATI. They also released a few mid-ranges mobile GPUs, namely the Mobility Radeon X600 and X300.  In addition, NVIDIA also released their own group of mobile GPUs this past year that were significantly faster and more advanced than their predecessors. The fact of the matter is that laptop / notebook sales are skyrocketing at the moment, and NVIDIA and ATI are both looking to capitalize on the opportunity.

Today on HotHardware, we're going to evaluate yet another new mobile GPU built by the folks at ATI, the Mobility Radeon X700. As you've probably inferred from its name, the Mobility Radeon X700 isn't the successor to the MR X800, but rather its a mid-to-high end GPU that caters to a somewhat different audience. The Mobility Radeon X700 is targeted at consumers who demand convenient portability, as well as high performance.

Specifications & Features of The Mobility Radeon X700
Full-Featured Mobile Graphics
Technology Features
_8 parallel pixel pipelines
_Six programmable vertex shader pipelines
_0.11 micron fabrication process
_128-bit dual-channel DDR1/DDR2/GDDR3 memory support
_PCI Express x16 lane native support

_Support for Microsoft DirectX 9.0 programmable vertex and pixel shaders in hardware
_DirectX 9.0 Vertex Shaders
- Vertex programs up to 65,280 instructions with flow control
- Single cycle trigonometric operations (SIN & COS)
_Direct X 9.0 Extended Pixel Shaders
- Up to 1,536 instructions and 16 textures per rendering pass
- 2nd generation F-buffer technology accelerates multi-pass pixel shader programs with unlimited instructions
- 32 temporary and constant registers
- Facing register for two-sided lighting
- 128-bit, 64-bit & 32-bit per pixel floating point color formats
- Multiple Render Target (MRT) support
_Complete feature set also supported in OpenGL(R) via extensions

_2x/4x/6x Anti-Aliasing modes
_Temporal Anti-Aliasing
_2x/4x/8x/16x Anisotropic Filtering modes

_High quality 4:1 Normal Map Compression
_Works with any two-channel data format

_3-level Hierarchical Z-Buffer with Early Z Test
_Lossless Z-Buffer Compression (up to 48:1)
_Fast Z-Buffer Clear
_Z Cache optimized for real-time shadow rendering
_Optimized for performance at high display resolutions

_Seamless integration of pixel shaders with video in real time
_FULLSTREAM video de-blocking technology for Real, DivX, and WMV9 formats
_VIDEOSOAP noise removal filtering for captured video
_MPEG1/2/4 decode and encode acceleration
- DXVA Support
- Hardware Motion Compensation, iDCT, DCT and color space conversion
_All-format DTV/HDTV decoding
_YPrPb component output for direct drive of HDTV displays
_Adaptive Per-Pixel De-Interlacing and Frame

_Uses the high-speed bi-directional data transfer capabilities of PCI Express to store and access graphics data in system memory, leading to less dependence on dedicated graphics memory and a lower overall notebook cost
_ATI's fifth-generation POWERPLAY power management technology provides users with the optimal balance between performance and power consumption
_Multiple power-saving settings offer increased control and flexibility
_POWER-ON-DEMAND – constantly monitors system activity, dynamically adjusting clocks and voltage based on user scenario
_LOW POWER LCD – enables lower LCD refresh rate for longer battery life
_VARI-BRIGHT technology optimizes notebook panel brightness for more power savings

_Automatically activated if the graphics processor hangs, triggering the driver to reset the VPU, avoiding system "crash"

Visual Display Flexibility
_Flexible and easy-to-use interface for multiple display settings
_LCD-EE display engine allows for support of the latest high resolution and wide-screen notebook displays such as WXGA (1920x1200) and QXGA (2048x1536)
_165 MHz integrated TMDS transmitter, for support of DVI Digital Flat Panels at up to UXGA resolution (1600x1200)
_230MHz integrated, Dual Channel LVDS
_Integrated TV-Out Encoder
_Dual RAMDACs at speeds of 400MHz
_Integrated HDTV encoder, supporting component output (YPbPr) for both North American and _Japanese D-link connectors

Multiple Variants For Ultimate Design Flexibility
_Support for multiple mobile form factors:
- Discrete
- On-chip 64MB DDR
- On-chip 128MB DDR

AXIOM (Advanced eXpress I/O Module) is a flexible approach to PCI Express modules and provides a reliable, innovative solution on notebook PCs offering:
_Proven, robust connector
_Standard form factors
_Customization for optimal fit with industrial design
_Standard interconnect for graphics and other peripheral designs
_Full support for ATI FLEXFIT technology




To test the Mobility Radeon X700, we used a very attractive Acer TravelMate 8100 notebook powered by ATI's latest mobile GPU. Unlike the bulky and ultra-heavy laptops we used to test the Mobility Radeon 9700 and Mobility Radeon 9800 last year, the Acer TravelMate 8100 is a "performance thin" model that won't break a shoulder when carrying it through an airport. The Dell XPS and Eurocomm notebooks powered by the MR9700 and MR9800 were what you'd call "desktop replacement" notebooks.  They had large screens, desktop processors adapted for mobile use, and weighed in at a hefty 12-14 lbs.  Acer's TravelMate 8100, however, sports a 15.4" WSXGA+ screen and a speedy - yet efficient - 2.0GHz Pentium M 760. The TravelMate 8100 also has 1GB of DDR2 RAM and a fast 100GB hard drive. Plus, because this machine is powered by Intel's new Mobile i915 Express chipset, the X700 interfaces through a PCI Express X16 link, rather than AGP.  Not only does the PCI Express X16 link offer far more bandwidth than AGP8X, but it makes a new feature built into the GPU possible...

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