Sapphire Radeon 9700 Atlantis Pro

Sapphire Radeon 9700 Atlantis Pro - Page 1

Sapphire Technology Radeon 9700 Atlantis Pro
A newcomer brings The Radeon 9700 To Market

By -Dave Altavilla
October 14, 2002


A complete unknown to the retail market, Sapphire Technology debuts here today, with their high end, ATi based entry into the 3D Graphics space.  We've seen many ATi built cards here in the HotHardware Labs and the design and quality has never fallen short of expectations.  Granted, we have not always been impressed with performance or driver stability but that is a thing of the past it seems, for the current 3D Graphics leader from the great white north.  Their flagship VPU (Video Processing Unit, as ATi has aptly named it), is currently king of the 3D Graphics hill, at least until NVIDIA releases the NV30.  Regardless, even in the day of the ATi Xpert designs, we would never have argued that ATi's quality, from a hardware perspective, was anything but top notch.  ATi has historically held captive the manufacturing of the board level product and marketed it under the ATi name exclusively.  However, with failing economic conditions and increasingly competitive landscapes, ATi has gone to outsourcing for board level products, as well as marketing channels with various OEMs building and branding their own Radeon line of products.

Now that ATi has relinquished control of their manufacturing process and also turned over some of the marketing responsibilities, what level of quality can we expect from the various OEMs who have jumped on the ATi bandwagon?  Well it's safe to say that Sapphire's Radeon 9700 at least, is made of the same good stuff we've come to expect from ATi themselves.  After all, they've been building ATi based cards for years, little did we know. Now with a focus on making a name for themselves in the retail sector, Sapphire Technology delivered to us one of their fledgling Radeon 9700 Atlantis Pros, in an effort to show us what they're made of.  Well then, let's have a look.

Specifications and Features of the Sapphire Radeon 9700 Atlantis Pro
Same board design, snazzy cooler




RADEON? 9700 Visual Processing Unit (VPU)
325MHz Core Clock


  • 128MB of double data rate SDRAM
    310MHz DDR (620MHz)


  • Eight parallel rendering pipelines process up to 2.6 billion pixels per second

  • Four parallel geometry engines process up to 325 million transformed and lit polygons per second

  • High precision 10-bit per channel frame buffer support

  • 256-bit DDR memory interface

  • AGP 8X support


  • Full support for Microsoft® DirectX® 9.0 programmable pixel and vertex shaders in hardware

  • 2.0 Pixel Shaders support up to 16 textures per rendering pass

  • 2.0 Vertex Shaders support vertex programs up to 1024 instructions with flow control

  • New 128-bit per pixel floating point color formats

  • Multiple Render Target (MRT) support

  • Shadow volume rendering acceleration

  • Complete feature set also supported in OpenGL via extensions


  • State-of-the-art full-scene anti-aliasing

  • New technology processes up to 15.6 billion anti-aliased samples per second for unprecedented performance

  • Supports 2x, 4x, and 6x modes with programmable sample patterns

  • Advanced anisotropic filtering

  • Supports up to 16 bilinear samples (in performance mode) or trilinear samples (in quality mode) per pixel

  • 2x/4x/6x full scene anti-aliasing modes

  • Adaptive algorithm with programmable sample patterns

  • 2x/4x/8x/16x anisotropic filtering modes

  • Adaptive algorithm with bilinear (performance) and trilinear (quality) options

  • Bandwidth-saving algorithm enables this feature with minimal performance cost


  • Hierarchical Z-Buffer and Early Z Test reduce overdraw by detecting and discarding hidden pixels

  • Lossless Z-Buffer Compression and Fast Z-Buffer Clear reduce memory bandwidth consumption by over 50%

  • Fast Z-Buffer Clear


  • 2nd generation N-patch higher order surface support

  • Discrete and continuous tessellation levels per polygon for dynamic LOD

  • DirectX 9.0 displacement mapping




  • Seamless integration of programmable pixel shaders with video data

  • High quality, hardware accelerated de-blocking of internet streaming video

  • Noise removal filter for captured video

  • Integrated MPEG-2 decode

  • Hardware accelerated iDCT, motion compensation, and color space conversion

  • Top quality DVD and all-format DTV/HDTV decode with low CPU overhead

  • Back-end scaler delivers top quality playback

  • Upscaling and downscaling with 4-tap horizontal and vertical filtering

  • Filtered display of images up to 1920 pixels wide

  • Unique per-pixel adaptive de-interlacing feature combines the best elements of the ?bob? and ?add-field? (weave) techniques

FULLSTREAM? video de-blocking technology

  • Noise removal filtering for captured video

  • MPEG-2 decoding with motion compensation, iDCT and color space conversion

  • All-format DTV/HDTV decoding

  • YPrPb component output

  • Adaptive de-interlacing and frame rate conversion

  • Dual integrated display controllers

  • Dual integrated 10-bit per channel 400MHz DACs

  • Integrated 165 MHz TMDS transmitter (DVI and HDCP compliant)

  • Integrated TV Output support up to 1024x768 resolution

  • Optimized for Pentium® 4 SSE2 and AMD Athlon? 3Dnow!

  • PC 2002 compliant


  • Dual integrated display controllers

  • Drive two displays simultaneously with independent resolutions and refresh rates

  • HYDRAVISION? software provides complete control over multi-display configurations with a user-friendly interface

  • Dual integrated 10-bit per channel palette DACs operating at up to 400MHz

  • Integrated 165MHz TMDS transmitter supports resolutions up to QXGA (2048x1536) and complies with DVI and HDCP specifications

  • Integrated TV-Out support up to 1024x768 resolution

  • YPrPb output for direct drive of HDTV monitors


  • 15-pin VGA connector for analog CRT

  • S-video or composite connector for TV/VCR

  • DVI-I connector for digital CRT or flat panel

  • Independent resolutions and refresh rates for any two connected displays


  • Comprehensive 2x, 4x, and 8x AGP support

  • High performance quad-channel DDR memory interface supports 64/128/256MB configurations

  • Fully compliant with PC 2002 requirements

  • Optimized for Pentium® 4 SSE2 and AMD Athlon? 3Dnow! processor instructions

  • Supports optional THEATER? 200 companion chip for NTSC/PAL/SECAM video capture

  • Highly optimized 128-bit 2D engine with support for new Windows® XP GDI extensions


Ahh, the fine print.  If you were diligent enough to read through all that technical jargon above, then you deserve an "A" for today's lesson in geeked out PC gear.  Reading through the feature list of the average 3D Graphics Card, certainly can go rather deep. However, we feel compelled to bring this level of detail to those of you that are serious about your 3D Accelerators.  For those of you just interested in new toys, suffice it to say that this card is built on the fastest, most feature packed and future proof Graphics Processor you can buy today, the Radeon 9700 Pro.


Physically, the Radeon 9700 Atlantis Pro is built from the same cookie cutter reference design of the original ATi Radeon 9700 we debuted here months ago.  One interesting area of note, is the metal heat spreader that is now attached on the back of virtually all Radeon 9700 cards that are in the retail channel.  The pre-release board that was sent to us back in August, did not have this.   Interesting to say the least and we're still unclear just what exactly this little fella is there for.  It seems to be a cross between and EMI shield and heatsink... 



Where Sapphire did step out of the ordinary, was the cooler they chose for this unit.  We've seen Radeon 9700 Atlantis Pros featured in other publications, with the stock ATi coolers on them.  However, this Orb-like, sort of serpentine, cooler is representative of what Sapphire is shipping now with their product.  It also does a nice job of cooling the VPU, as we'll show you shortly.  Finally, you also get standard issue Radeon 9700 Pro TV I/O, DVI and VGA connectors, as well as the four pin power connector that must be plugged in, to supply an additional power source to the card.  All told, this is a well built card with a somewhat unique cooling solution to help it stand out from the crowd.  Let's fire it up.

Drivers and Overclocking

Tags:  Radeon, Sapphire, App, LAN, SAP, pro, AP

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