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ATI's shift to 32-bit precision close, says company chief

But forget about 64-bit

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ATI graphics processors will offer 32-bit pixel shader precision "pretty soon", the company's president and COO, Dave Orton, said last week.

Interviewed by Japan's PC Watch, Orton said that the company has "no intention" of sticking with 24-bit precision, as delivered by its current high-end chips.

That, claims Xbit Labs, fingers the upcoming R420 as ATI's first 32-bit pixel shader chip, though Orton himself didn't make any forecast as to which GPU will make the move from 24-bit precision.

Nvidia's processors already support 32-bit precision. Microsoft's DirectX 9 API requires a minimum of 24-bit pixel shader precision, which is why ATI has stuck at that level so far. A future iteration of DirectX may lift the bar to 32-bit.

However, while Orton expects a move to 32-bit precision to come soon, going to the next level, 64-bit precision may take longer - if it comes at all.

Recalling his experience at SGI, Orton noted the considerable difficulty of getting 64-bit precision to work. Never say never, he added, but he can't see graphics chips offering 64-bit pixel shader precision on the near future. Technically, 64-bit precision is better, but when it comes to visual image quality, there's little benefit in going beyond 32-bit, he suggested. ®

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