What a difference a day makes
Over the past sixteen hours, weíve witnessed some remarkable new technology from ATI. Not only was ATIís flagship, next-generation DirectX 9 card introduced to us (the RADEON 9700) we also learned the first details of ATIís new entrants in the value market Ė the RADEON 9000 and RADEON 9000 Pro. With its 8-pixel pipeline architecture and four vertex engines, RADEON 9700 doubles the feature set of anything else on the market in many key areas. Just as staggering is its 325 million triangles/second transform rate and its unique ability to process up to sixteen textures per pass.
Unfortunately, with so little time between production introduction and our press embargo being lifted, we had to pick our battle: write a full-fledged feature on the RADEON 9700, which isnít currently available and will retail for $399, or go with the RADEON 9000/9000 Pro which we did receive and will ship at a much more attainable price point: $109 for the RADEON 9000, and $129 for the RADEON 9000 Pro. With the hardware in our hands today and the RADEON 9000ís attractive features list, we decided to go with the board that may not drop quite as many jaws in awe, but will instead have a much broader mainstream appeal. After all, there arenít many consumers that are willing to fork over $400 on a graphics card just yet.
RADEON 9000 board
So what does ATI have in store for the RADEON 9000 series? Surprisingly, quite a bit. Contrary to early rumors, RADEON 9000 (or as it was internally codenamed, R250) is a lot more than just a RADEON 8500 with a higher clock speed, or even an 8500 with a stripped feature set. For RADEON 9000, ATI started with a clean slate. Obviously the goal was to produce a variant of the RADEON 8500 that was cheaper to produce, but at the same time ATIís engineers didnít want to sacrifice performance, instead the goal was to enhance performance as much as possible while keeping costs to a minimum. In fact, the RADEON 9000 is more expensive to produce than the RADEON 7500 and therefore the RADEON 7500 family will live on in the lower portion of the value market, while the RADEON 9000 and RADEON 9000 Pro will completely replace RADEON 8500 and its variants in the value space. But what has changed between RADEON 8500 and RADEON 9000? Lets take a look at the specs.