At the heart of the ALL-IN-WONDER X1800 XL lies ATIís R520 graphics core. This is the exact same chip ATI uses in their RADEON X1800 XL. It ships with the same clock speeds Ė 500MHz on the graphics core and 500MHz on the memory Ė with 16 pixel pipelines and eight vertex shaders with 256MB of GDDR3 memory.
Basically, ATIís made no compromises on the graphics front.
If you recall, R520 is ATIís first shader model 3.0 part, which brings with it support for more instructions, thus allowing developers to write more complex shader programs. In addition to this, another important feature that shader model 3.0 added was dynamic branching (flow control), allowing developers to add loops to their programs. Dynamic branching was designed to make writing shaders easier for developers. With it, game developers can associate one shader to perform multiple functions. Say for instance adding multiple lights to an environment. Rather than having to write a shader for each light, with dynamic branching the developer can write one light shader which then loops through a certain number of vertex lights and exits once all the lights have been processed.
Besides eased development, shader model 3.0 also presents potential performance improvements. For example, developers can use dynamic branching to skip large portions of code that are determined to be unnecessary, and thus help to speed up the shader. ATI has introduced a number of new features to enhance branching performance. The most notable of these new features includes dedicated flow control logic for handling dynamic branching. Another new feature that has been talked about lately is the X1800 programmable memory controller. This feature in particular was responsible for the huge performance gains we saw in Quake 4 last month.
With the same R520 chip thatís found in the X1800 XL also powering the ALL-IN-WONDER X1800 XL, the card boasts all the same innovations and features ATI introduced with the X1800 XL a month ago, including AVIVO. This means that the ALL-IN-WONDER X1800 XL boasts the same 3D capabilities as its desktop cousin, making it a capable performer in games. In our tests with the RADEON X1800 XL in the past weíve found that it competes closely with NVIDIAís GeForce 7800 GT in performance, with each card winning their fair share of benchmarks. The ALL-IN-WONDER X1800 XL merely adds the additional multimedia capabilities we mentioned previously.
Before we begin to discuss these multimedia features in more depth though, letís go over ATIís lineup for the holidays.
ATIís Multimedia Lineup
The ALL-IN-WONDER X1800 XL is the new flagship of ATIís ALL-IN-WONDER lineup. According to ATI, the ALL-IN-WONDER X1800 XL is in full production, with boards shipping to retail as we write this. In fact we can speak from personal experience that ATI has delayed the official introduction of the ALL-IN-WONDER X1800 XL by several weeks in order to ensure a hard launch for the card (the board was originally scheduled for launch on November 7th, then the 15th, and now the 21st). Officially, the ALL-IN-WONDER X1800 XL carries an MSRP of $500, thatís a $50 price premium over the official MSRP of the X1800 XL, which is $450. When you consider the extra features ATI provides with the ALL-IN-WONDER, such as the FM and TV tuning capabilities, REMOTE WONDER PLUS remote control unit (which alone sells for $49 on shop.ati.com), VIVO, and additional software (which includes a copy of Photoshop Elements), this $50 premium is a pretty trivial amount.
Just below the ALL-IN-WONDER X1800 XL lies the ALL-IN-WONDER X800 XL (PCI-E) and ALL-IN-WONDER X800 XT (AGP), which both carry a pricetag of $400. For the mainstream market, ATI then provides the ALL-IN-WONDER 2006 (AGP) and ALL-IN-WONDER X600 PRO, both of these boards officially carry an MSRP of $200.
ATIís TV WONDER series enters the holidays unchanged, with the TV WONDER ELITE and HDTV WONDER selling for $150 while the TV WONDER USB 2.0 and TV WONDER PRO Remote Control Edition retail for $100 and the TV WONDER PRO selling for $70.