Radeon Gets A Face Lift
Both ATI and Nvidia have slowed their progress in anticipation of Direct3D 10. ATI is working on its R600 processor and Nvidia has its G80, so both should be ready when DX10 parts are needed. With the major halt like a new API, the card makers have shifted to half steps, much like ATI did with its Radeon X850 before the launch of R520, the Radeon X1000 series processors. Nvidia implemented two GeForce 7900 GT processors into a single card with the Geforce 7950 GX2. ATI has followed suit by launching a revised version of its Radeon X1900 graphics card.
Overall, there are only a few major differences. The first thing to catch your eye is the new cooler design. After the advent of loud coolers on the Radeon X850 and X1000 series high performance cards, ATI heard the cry of its constituents and created a heavy copper heat sink with a heat pipe and a much quieter fan. The cooler continues to draw air from inside the case and expel it out the back, but it uses its larger fan's location at the very end of the card to pull air from farther within. It pushes the air through an array of fine fins connected to the heat pipe.
While the new thermal design performs well and looks "cooler," that is the only place where the ATI Radeon X1950 looks much different. Technologically, the processor is the same as the Radeon X1900. It has 48 pixel shader units, which support Shader Model 3.0, and can render HDR and AA at the same time, HD video and it maintains its 384-million transistor count. There were some rumors that the R580+ would be manufactured on an 80-nm process, but the first Radeon X1950 cards to hit the market will continue to utilize a 90-nm process.