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ATi Radeon256 Preview

Competition

Tons of hype is surrounding the upcoming next generation graphics cards and as we've seen in the past, several companies have come up short of their claims. Sound familiar? Sure it does. It's all a part of the marketing hype. This might be one of the reasons ATi was smart enough not to hand out any performance numbers for us to beat them with if things don't go perfectly. In any case, we have the goods on a bit of the competition and the routes they are taking to their next product. Let's have a look.

3dfx is about to release their latest product and prove to the world that they're far from dead. The upcoming line-up from 3dfx looks to provide consumers with high fill-rates enabling various visual effects in hardware like full-screen Anti-Aliasing, Depth of Field and Motion Blur. Although all these things sound appealing, only the fill-rates appear to be its unique advantage as other companies have already begun supporting the visual effects as well. So far, results scored with Voodoo5500 beta units can't impress much. Unfortunately the 3dfx name will not carry the once leading edge graphics company much farther so let's hope that the recent acquisition of Gigapixel helps their future product line-up.

Matrox has just announced the new G450 product, but important details as e.g. the core clock and fill rate of this item are being kept under tight wraps so I cannot give further detail.

NVIDIA will be releasing their next generation chipset tonight and further details will be available shortly. The GeForce2GTS chip will be offering enhanced T&L, significantly improved fill-rates, higher memory performance and revamped graphics pipelines. Keep your eyes open for the full review.

Most people have agreed with me about the tragedy that we've seen happen with the Viper II product from S3 and I've tried testing various driver drops that have become available through download recently but to my disbelief the drivers are still sub-par when compared to any of their competition. We will be seeing a faster version of the Viper II sometime soon but with the driver status being so shaky, who will be getting one? We will see what will happen with S3's performance products now that VIA has acquired S3's graphics department.

Summary

ATi has definitely jumped into the high-end/gamers market as they're boasting hardware that will offer competitive performance, appealing visual effects and a leading edge feature set that makes sure that ATi won't lose sight of NVIDIA. It might be offering the best all-around package as they have next generation T&L, top-notch texturing capabilities (from texture compression to bump mapping to triple texturing), a well thought out efficient graphics architecture and the well known and respected video capabilities. All this will still have a hard time competing against NVIDIA's upcoming GeForce2GTS. Unfortunately we don't have a product to test at this time, so we'll have to reserve our judgment on this future battle until we're able to line-up all the upcoming graphics hardware and can put them all to the test. The one big question that is lingering in my mind: "What will the competition do if an AFR version of the Radeon256 comes out?"