ATi Updates Entire 9x00 Product Line
ATi is updating its entire product line. All cards of the 9000, 9500, and 9700 series will be replaced by successors named 9200, 9600, and 9800, respectively.
The new Radeon 9800 DirectX 9 VPU (R350) supersedes the highly successful Radeon 9700 (R300). Technologically, the chip is an updated and optimized R300 core, with changes that go beyond a simple clock speed bump. The shader unit (SmartShader) has been supplemented with a so-called "F-Buffer," which theoretically allows shader code of infinite length. As a dig at NVIDIA for calling the FX a "DirectX 9+" part because of its extended programmability, ATi has named its R350 a "DirectX 9++" part. You've got to love that creativity.
Changes have also been made to "SmoothVision" (now 2.1) and HyperZ III (now III+ - you can't go wrong with pluses). Also, the clock speed was increased from 325/310 to 380/340. Neither the fabrication process nor the memory type have changed, however. Like the R300, the R350 will be manufactured on an 0.15 micron process and will use a 256Bit interface to connect to the DDR(-I) memory. Although all R350 chips are DDR-II ready, according to ATI, only the 9800 PRO model, due out later in H1/03, will use the newer memory. Like its predecessor, the R300 has eight pixel pipelines and four vertex shader units.