ATI Radeon X1950 Pro with Native CrossFire

Introduction, Specifications, and Related Info

It's been only seven short weeks since ATI officially unveiled four additions to the X1K family of products, and here we are again with yet another new Radeon poised to shake-up the mid-range segment of the market. The new Radeon X1950 Pro is based on the GPU formerly codenamed RV570. but unlike the R580 variants used on the other members of the X1900 family which are built on TSMC's 90nm line, the RV570 is built on the company's 80nm node. The RV570 also has a different pixel shader / vertex shader configuration, and in perhaps the biggest departure from the R580, the RV570 has native CrossFire support.  That's right folks - no more CrossFire Master cards and the much maligned external dongle is a thing of the past as well.

We've recently got our hands on a pair of Radeon X1950 Pro cards and have our thoughts and experiences with them laid out for you on the pages ahead.  Read on to see what ATI has in store for the mid-range segment of the market as we head into the pre-Vista, holiday buying season.

ATI Radeon X1950 Pro
Features & Specifications
- 80nm fabrication process
- 36 pixel shader processors
- 8 vertex shader processors
- Up to 256-bit 8-channel memory interface
- Native PCI Express x16 bus interface

Ring Bus Memory Controller
- Internal ring bus for memory reads
- 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
- 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
- High quality 2:1 compression for luminance maps and single-channel data formats
- Complete feature set also supported in OpenGL 2.0

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)
Avivo Video and Display Platform
- High performance programmable video processor
o Accelerated MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, WMV9, VC-1, and H.264 decoding and
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 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
o Drive two displays simultaneously with independent resolutions and refresh rates
- Compatible with ATI TV/Video encoder products, including Theater 550

- 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)

There is a myriad of information related to today's launch already available on our site that will help you get familiar with the GPU architectures and key features employed on the Radeon X1950 Pro cards we'll be showcasing here. The Radeon X1950 Pro 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 3200 chipset and ATI's CrossFire multi-GPU technology in a few past articles as well.

If you haven't already done so, we recommend scanning through our CrossFire Multi-GPU technology preview, the CrossFire Xpress 3200 chipset evaluation, the X1K family review, and the Radeon X1900 CrossFire evaluation. In those four articles, we cover the vast majority of the features offered by the Radeon X1950 Pro. 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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