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First Look at ATI's Rage 128

Problem Summary

There are quite a few good reasons why ATI is not ready to start shipping yet. Driver problems as well as some hardware difficulties are still waiting to get sorted out.

  • The chip is getting way too hot . ATI told me that the case temperature of the Rage 128 can go up to 115 degrees Celsius without causing damage to the chip. The only question is, who wants to have such a hot part inside his computer case, heating up everything around it and causing possible problems for other components. Heat doesn't come from nothing, it takes energy in form of high current to produce this heat. Thus the question is what power consumption the Rage 128 has. ATI is aware of this problem, which is particularly touchy for the Rage 128 chips that are supposed to go onto motherboards. Thus ATI has done a re-design of the silicon and hopes that the next revision will not produce as much heat.
  • Driver problems! ATI hasn't got that much time to make Rage 128 work on all Super7-motherboards as well. Currently I'd leave my hands from the Rage 128 if I'd own a system with a Socket7 CPU. There are still some flaws shown on the desktop, e.g. the nice blue sky in the upper left corner of each folder displayed by Windows98's Explorer suddenly turns to dark green, looking very shagedelic, groovey babey! The bridge in Expendable is certainly not the only flaw that's in the D3D driver, so that's another problem. You can't choose the resolutions 1152x862 and 1280x1024 in Quake2, unless you want to risk a system crash, so that's driver problem no.4.
  • The 'Game Engine Performance Booster' is rather annoying and dangerous than cool, so I'd prefer doing without it. TNT is always delivering top performance and so should Rage 128 as well.
  • The AGP interface seems to need quite a lot of work still. Rage 128 looked pretty bad in the Q2 mon2 demo.