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.
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
TruFormed - Radeon 8500
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.
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
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
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