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ATI 'drops pixel, vertex shader 3.0 support' from R420

Focusing on the tech games developers are actually using

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ATI's upcoming R420 graphics chip will not support DirectX 9's version three pixel and vertex shaders.

So claims German web site 3D Center, saying that the absence is "beyond doubt".

The site argues that since the R420 is derived from the older, proven R300 architecture, it would never have been easy to 'bolt on' pixel and vertex shader 3.0 support, so ATI instead decided to focus on improving shader 2.0 support. Indeed, it concludes that ATI even believes shader 3.0 support isn't as important as some gamers and other graphics chip fans might think. Shader 3.0 is "a beautiful, but rather useless check list feature", the site says.

Essentially, shader 3.0 support won't be necessary until the next generation of graphics chips arrives with the upcoming 'Longhorn' version of Windows in mind. By then there should be much better shader 3.0 support in games, too - there aren't any yet.

Much better, then, to focus on the technology that today's - and tomorrow's - games do support, and make it work faster. That means shader 2.0.

The R420 will deliver that through its eight rendering pipelines containing an unknown number of texture units and six vertex units. The 160 million transistor chip will be fabbed at 130nm by TSMC. It will support DDR, GDDR 2 and GDDR 3 across a 256-bit interface. It is expected to be used in AGP 8x boards.

Of course, Nvidia will tout shader 3.0 support when it launches the long-awaited NV40 later this year. ®

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