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Review: Crucial Radeon 9700 Pro

by Tarinder Sandhu on 26 October 2002, 00:00

Tags: Crucial Radeon 9700 PRO, Crucial Technology (NASDAQ:MU)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qant

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Specification

This page was taken from my original R9700 review. All the information contained here is pertinent to the Crucial Radeon 9700.

Graphics Technology
  • RADEON™ 9700 PRO Visual Processing Unit (VPU)
Memory Configuration
  • 128MB of double data rate SDRAM
Display Support
  • 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
Features
  • Eight parallel rendering pipelines
  • Four parallel geometry engines
  • 256-bit DDR memory interface
  • AGP 8X support
  • SMARTSHADER 2.0
    • Programmable pixel and vertex shaders
    • 16 textures per pass
    • Pixel shaders up to 160 instructions with 128-bit floating point precision
    • Vertex shaders up to 1024 instructions with flow control
    • Multiple render target support
    • Shadow volume rendering acceleration
    • High precision 10-bit per channel frame buffer support
    • Supports DirectX® 9.0 and the latest version of OpenGL
  • SMOOTHVISION 2.0
    • 2x/4x/6x full scene anti-aliasing modes
      • Adaptive algorithm with programmable sample patterns
    • 2x/4x/8x/16x anisotropic filtering modes
      • Adaptive algorithm with bi-linear (performance) and tri-linear (quality) options
  • HYPER Z III
    • 3-level Hierarchical Z-Buffer with early Z test
    • Lossless Z-Buffer compression (up to 24:1)
    • Fast Z-Buffer Clear
  • TRUFORM
    • 2nd generation N-Patch higher order surface support
    • Discrete and continuous tessellation levels per polygon
    • Displacement mapping
  • VIDEOSHADER
    • Seamless integration of pixel shaders with video
    • 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 400 MHz DACs
  • Integrated 165 MHz TMDS transmitter (DVI & HDCP compliant)
  • Integrated TV Output support up to 1024x768 resolution
  • Optimized for Pentium® 4 SSE2 and AMD Athlon™ 3Dnow!

 

I've taken these comprehensive specifications from ATi's own site. I'd like to go through the more relevant points.

8-pixel and 4-vertex rendering pipelines give it, ceterus paribus, double the shading ability of the Ti 4600. The important point to note here is that the pixel performance of the R9700 should be similar to the Ti 4600's as the latter can process 2 textures on its 4-pixel pipes, whereas the R9700 is limited to one per pipe.

The R9700 comes equipped with 8x AGP support, thus giving it a potential 2GB/s+ bandwidth from Northbridge to AGP port. The 8x support is something of a contentious issue at the moment, with a number of users reporting it to be in a non-working state. Considering that the majority of today's applications cannot saturate the 4x AGP bus, 8x can be thought of as a forward-looking measure. The advanced pixel and shading ability allow the R9700 to be defined as a DX9-class of graphics card.

Smoothvision 2.0, ATi's collective term for their image-enhancement settings, now sees up to 6x F.S.A.A, and up to 16x anisotropic filtering (including Trilinear), all the way up to 1600x1200x32. Ths compares favourably to the Ti4600's maximum settings of 4x F.S.A.A and 8x anisotropic filtering.

Truform, ATi's in-house polygon-enhancing setting, now sees a 2nd-generation higher order surfacing support. Truform attempts to revitalise older games by fleshing out character models with the use of extra polygons. It's especially useful smoothing harsh edges on characters by simply guesstimating and adding an additional number of polygons to a low polygon model. It uses what ATi call N-Patches to achieve this.

Most modern graphics cards have a hardware-assisted video acceleration chip integrated into their design. ATi, with a slight departure from this, have decided to allow the pixel shaders to control aspects of the video stream instead. The advantage of this method, according to ATi, is that it allows poor video to be artificially enhanced with the use of clever pixel shading. Although this sounds good in practice, it is only applicable in a select few circumstances.

The R9700, much like the GeForce4 Ti 4600, is equipped with dual 400MHz RAMDACs. The advantage that the R9700 has over the Ti 4600, however, lies in the fact that it can use dual 10-bit RAMDACs as opposed to the 4600's 8.

It's got massive memory bandwidth courtesy of its 256-bit bus and 620MHz DDR, totalling almost 20GB/s, it's fully DX-9-compliant with upgraded pixel and vertex shaders. AGP 8x support, enhanced Smoothvision, enhanced Hyper Z memory bandwidth-saving technology and 2nd-generation Truform round of the impressive hardware package.