ATI's Radeon 8500 and Radeon 7500

ATI's Radeon 8500 and Radeon 7500 - Page 1

ATI's Next Generation
The Radeon 8500 and Radeon 7500 Review

Untapped Power

By Dave Altavilla


Once again we find ourselves in the fall season with too many new "toys" to possibly even consider for the coming holidays.  However, 3D Graphics Cards seem to heat up this time of year, more so it seems, than any other technology for the Personal Computer.  Furthermore, the frenzy and hype surrounding these products is more intense and vigorous than almost any new product for the PC, save perhaps the recent GHz. race between AMD and Intel. The pages of the internet have been buzzing with information about the possibility of the only real threat to nVidia's relentless design and manufacturing machine of leading edge 3D graphics for the PC.

One of the few remaining competitors, ATi Technologies,  had dominated the PC Graphics arena for many years before the likes of the now extinct 3dfx and of course today's current leader, nVidia.  ATi has managed to maintain relative profitability during the recent economic downturn, all the while developing technology that would compete and possibly overthrow it's fierce rival, even within its core strength, Power 3D Graphics for the enthusiast.  Finally, ATi has also been honing its already strong offering in the value and OEM segments, preparing to up the anti in the price/performance and features race.

And so it is with these lofty goals in mind, that we "peel back the onion", so to speak, with respect to ATi's next generation technologies.  In the following pages, we'll show you the hardware, software, features and performance within the latest offerings from ATi Technologies, those widely known now as the Radeon 8500 and Radeon 7500 lines.  Can somebody finally design and manufacture a "GeForce 3 killer"?  What about something for the folks who don't want to mortgage their home for a graphics card?  Can ATi deliver in the value space as well?  We'll try to answer all this and more in the pages to follow.

Specifications Of The ATi Radeon 8500 and Radeon 7500 Graphics Cards
Great power on paper and within the specs


Radeon 7500 Features & Specs

  • Powered by the RADEON? 7500 graphics processing unit (GPU)
  • High performance 3D graphics featuring ATI?s CHARISMA ENGINE?, PIXEL TAPESTRY? and HYPER Z? technologies
  • RADEON? 7500 display engine enables many combinations of CRT (VGA), digital flat panel (DVI), and TV displays.
  • Hydravision? Multiple Monitor Management Software provides a flexible, user-friendly interface for multiple display settings
  • Supports DirectX 8.0® and OpenGL®
  • Features DVI interface with integrated 165MHz TMDS transmitter for resolutions up to 1600 x 1200
  • Industry-leading DVD video playback
  • Supports 3D resolutions (32-bit color) up to 2048x1536
  • AGP universal bus (for AGP 2X/4X systems)

  • High performance 3D and 2D
  • RADEON? 7500 comes powered by up to 64MB of DDR memory to accelerate latest 2D and 3D graphics, productivity applications and games
  • Delivers immersive, realistic 32-bit true color graphics without performance decline
  • High resolution 32-bit 3D graphics up to 2048x1536
  • Full support of and compliance with powerful DirectX® and OpenGL® applications
  • CHARISMA ENGINE? supports full Transformation, Clipping and Lighting (T&L) at up to 40.0 million triangles/second peak processing capability
  • Features HYPER? Z technology to boost effective memory bandwidth by over 20% (8.8 GB/sec)
  • PIXEL TAPESTRY?, the RADEON? 7500 3D rendering engine, powers an incredible 1.6 Gigatexels per second for unsurpassed graphics performance
  • Flexible dual monitor support
  • RADEON? 7500 technology supports combinations of traditional CRT monitors, flat panel displays and TV










Radeon 8500 Features and Specs

  • Powered by the revolutionary RADEON? 8500 GPU
  • Features ATI's TRUFORM?, SMARTSHADER?, SMOOTHVISION?, and HYPER? Z II technologies
  • Supports DirectX® 8.1
  • Supports OpenGL® 1.3 features
  • 64MB of powerful double data rate (DDR) memory
  • The Latest 3D games support the advanced features of RADEON? 8500
  • Dual monitor and Video output support
  • Industry-leading DVD video playback
  • Digital Flat Panel (DVI) support
  • Supports 3D resolutions (32-bit color) up to 2048x1536
  • AGP universal bus (for AGP 2X/4X systems)

  • Unsurpassed 3D gaming
  • Powered by the revolutionary RADEON? 8500 GPU and 64MB of DDR memory for the fastest and most advanced 3D graphics on the market
  • Features ATI?s innovative TRUFORM? technology that makes the outlines of 3D characters and objects look smoother and more natural than ever before
  • High resolution 32-bit 3D gaming up to 2048x1536
  • Features HYPER? Z technology to boost effective memory bandwidth by over 20% (8.8 GB/sec)
  • SMOOTHVISION? anti-aliasing ? the most advanced anti-aliasing to eliminate distracting visual artifacts for smoother looking images and without serious performance compromise
  • ATI?s new SMARTSHADER? technology takes advantage of the DirectX® 8.1 features to enable more complex and realistic texture and lighting effects
  • CHARISMA ENGINE? II supports full Transformation, Clipping and Lighting (T&L) at 75 million triangles/second peak processing capability
  • PIXEL TAPESTRY? II, the RADEON? 8500 3D rendering engine, powers an incredible 2.4 Gigatexels per second for the highest fill rates in 32-bit at high resolutions
  • Dual monitor support
  • Leading-edge HydraVision? technology supports traditional CRT monitors, flat panel displays and TVs
  • ATI?s VIDEO IMMERSION? II technology enables integration of industry-leading digital video features, including advanced de-interlacing algorithms for unprecedented video quality and integrated digital TV decode capability
  • Includes programmable gamma for the overlay and Frame Rate Conversion (Temporal Filtering)
  • Hardware DVD MPEG 2 Decoding Support
  • HDTV ready
  • DVI and TV/Video output support
  • RADEON? 8500 uses RAGE THEATER? companion chip for high quality video output
  • Features 165MHz integrated TMDS transmitter to support DVI up to UXGA (1600x1200) resolution
  • Use video-out to connect your PC to TV or VCR

Competitive Technology Comparisons



        Radeon 7500

Let's start with the Radeon 7500 (pictured on left).  Here we see essentially a die shrink of the original Radeon, down to .15 micron technology.  This allows ATI to crank the clock speed up to a blazing 290MHz.  The memory controller on the original Radeon was able to support 200MHz. DDR SDRAM. Now, 230MHz. DDR for a total of 460MHz. aggregate bandwidth is possible.  This brings the memory bandwidth up to par with a GeForce3 "classic" if you will, at a solid 7.4 Gigabytes per second.  However, the R7500 falls shy in rendering pipelines with only 2, versus even a GeForce2 Ti 200 with 4.  The third texture unit on the R7500 was a strong selling point back in the day of the Radeon's initial release.  However to this day, that 3rd. texturing unit is rarely utilized by developers and current 3D gaming platforms.  Other than that, Hyper-Z, the Charisma Engine and Pixel Tapestry are all technologies that you are probably familiar with from our review of the original Radeon back in  July of 2000.

Radeon 8500         

As you can imagine, the Radeon 8500 is really the star of this show.  Here ATI uses the same .15 micron process but the chip that the Radeon 8500 is built around is 60 million transistors, approximately twice the size of the R7500.  Here a 275MHz. core is supported by 275MHz. DDR or 550MHz. DRAM subsystem, for a total of 8.8 Gigabytes per second of bandwidth, surpassing nVidia' flagship GeForce3 Ti500.  ATi achieves this level of performance with the advancement of their Hyper-Z II technology, a lossless compression algorithm which allows them to drive up to 20% more bandwidth within the memory system.  Also, ATi has evened the score with respect to rendering pipelines and texture units.  Finally, with fully programmable pixel and vertex shaders (ATi's "Smart Shader" technology, there are a host of new visual effects and features that have been added.


Let's take a quick look at some of those special affects and features.





New Features


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