ATI's Radeon 8500 and Radeon 7500

ATI's Radeon 8500 and Radeon 7500 - Page 2

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

Untapped Power

By Dave Altavilla


Call it what you will, real innovation, bells and whistles or marketing hype, ATi certainly can play the features game with the best of them.  In addition to pixel and vertex shaders, ATi delivers the following with the Radeon 8500.





This is ATi method of converting the sharp triangles used to compose an image, into curved surfaces, for a smoother more natural looking image.  This feature is supported in hardware and will be generated without a performance penalty.  Developers will need to implement this feature in a game or provide a patch to utilize the technology.  In either case, ATi claims it is a very easy feature to implement and they expect many developers to support it in future releases and patches.  Here is an example of what TruForm does.


Before TruForm




After TruForm


The Radeon 8500 ships with a modified version of Valve's Half Life Counter Strike Mod, that supports TruForm. We took a couple of screenshots from this version of the game, on a Radeon 8500 and a GeForce3 card.  Here are the results.  Click images for full view.


               TruFormed - Radeon 8500                    GeForce3                             

As you can see, Mr. Hostage's head is just plain pointy in the shot with the GeForce3 card without TruForm.  In the Radeon 8500 shot, the model has smooth edges and his head has a very natural rounded shape.  The effect is slight but fairly prominent.  Also, contrary to popular belief, we tried the TruForm enabled version of Counter Strike on the GeForce3 and no, it did not work.  So it seems ATi has real innovation here versus marketing hype.  The trick for them now is evangelizing it to the game developers.  From the looks of the above images, if it is in fact easy to code, one would think it is the proverbial "no-brainer" to support. 


One other quick note... CS "Lighthammer" demo with TruForm on = 135.2 fps, with TruForm off = 139.5 fps, at 1024X768.  The frame rate impact was minimal for the Radeon 8500 it seems, in this game.  However, what about more complex and current games like Max Payne for example?  We'll just have to see.  For now, things look pretty encouraging here.



Smart Shader:

This is ATi's version of programmable pixel and vertex shaders.  It offers complete support for DirectX8.1 programmable shaders.  As with the GeForce3, developers will have a myriad of flexible shading and lighting techniques that the Radeon 8500's engine will be able to support. 




The differentiating factor for ATi is that the R8500 has the ability to process 6 textures in a single rendering pass versus the GeForce3, which only handles 4.  Here are some examples of those features in action. Click images for full view.



The flag on the right is representative of a process called "procedural deformation" where the effect of the ruffled flag is modeled using programmable vertex shaders.  The chalice on the left is representative of colored lighting from multiple sources that can be achieved in a single rendering pass, using pixel shaders.


Adaptive De-Interlacing:


Finally, ATi definitely has a history of strength when it comes to Digital Video.  Below are examples of various kinds of De-Interlacing that occurs in modern day DVD decoders.  Bob De-Interlacing is done with motion video and weave works best with still images. 



ATI?s "Adaptive De-Interlacing" hardware evaluates motion on a per-pixel basis and selects the best method for de-interlacing.  This results in very impressive picture quality when viewing digital video, as with DVD movies.  We feel ATi has the best DVD decoding on the market right now.



It's install time folks and you know what that means.




The Setup, Drivers and Utilities


Tags:  ATI, Radeon, 8500, and

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