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ATI launches Radeon

Not a washing powder but a 3D accelerator, apparently

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ATI yesterday unveiled its newest graphics accelerator, formerly called Rage 6 but dubbed, as we predicted, the Radeon 256 - which sounds more like a washing powder than an Nvidia or 3dfx killer. But there you go. Washes pixels whiter, anyone? The spec is impressive. ATI has already announced the Radeon's Charisma Engine transform, lighting and 3D model animation system and its Pixel Tapestry Architecture rendering engine. and last week it 'leaked' to Reuters the new chip's basics: 0.18 micron interconnect technology, 30 million transistors on the die. 30 million is also the number of triangles ATI claims Charisma Engine can handle every second, twice that of Nvidia's GeForce 256. Pixel Tapestry can process three 32-bit textures simultaneously. It also provides hardware 3D shadowing, DirectX bump-mapping and pixel shading support, spherical dual-paraboloid and cubic environment mapping, and what ATI calls "comprehensive support for full scene, order-independent anti-aliasing". To that we can now add ATI's promise of 1.5 billion texels per second rendering, support for up to 128MB of double data-rate RAM - using ATI's HyperZ (the company seems very keen on silly names for technologies, all of a sudden) bus technology, which, it's claimed, improves memory performance by 20 per cent - and on-chip Video Immersion digital TV decoder, motion compensation, IDCT and MPEG decoding. Finally, the chip supports dual-processor operation, so we can expect to see a Radeon 256 MAXX board in the very near future. When exactly remains open to question. ATI chairman K Y Ho told Reuters last week that products based on the Radeon 256 will ship this summer - a broad schedule if there are ever was one. This is likely to put it behind both Nvidia's GeForce 2 and 3dfx's VSA100-based Voodoo 4 and 5 boards. Not that it matters too much to ATI, which will be looking to expand its OEM sales through the new chip, and these are less time-to-market sensitive than retail sales. Unless, of course, Nvidia can pull something much, much better out the hat with GeForce 2, the successor to last autumn's GeForce 256, due to be unveiled tonight. Nvidia's head-start on transform and lighting technology should allow it to come up with something comparable to ATI's Charisma Engine, if not better. We shall see. ATI said it will ship Radeon 256 drivers for Windows, MacOS and Linux, via DirectX and OpenGL. The drivers will be optimised for Intel's Screaming Sindy Extensions and AMD's 3D Now, but no mention was made of the PowerPC 7400 (aka G4)'s AltiVec engine. ® Related Stories ATI Rage 6 info 'leaked' ATI to unveil Rage 6 on 24 April ATI records 136 per cent profit hike

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