When you think of 3D gaming accelerators, what companies come to mind? If I asked you to name 3D graphics companies off the top of your head, you would probably immediately respond with 3dfx and Nvidia, and then follow up with Matrox and S3. ATI would come up right before going into the less popular guys such as PowerVR, 3D Labs, and Trident (Blade 3D).
Let's face it, ATI isn't exactly known for cutting edge 3D performance. Sure, the original Rage Fury 128 once held the speed crown, but that was before 3dfx and Nvidia took over the race with the Voodoo 3 and TNT2.
Like S3, ATI was also caught off guard by the new breed of consumer level 3D accelerators 3dfx and Nvidia first brought to market just over two years ago. Unlike S3, however, ATI had a very strong OEM presence when the 3D wave hit (1st place in fact), and the company has been able to weather a couple 3D video card generations before the trickle down technology effect finally hit the OEM markets. There's no question ATI still has a very large portion of the OEM market, but they have recently missed earnings expectations, and competition is steadily increasing.
Rage Fury MAXX
Today, 3dfx, Nvidia, and S3 are all able to leverage their high-end 3D accelerator designs into low-end entry level video cards for OEM manufacturers. 3dfx has built a brand through the performance of the Voodoo line and mainstream advertising. Nvidia has a strong reputation based on the performance of the high-end TNT and TNT2. S3 has recently jumped into the ring with the Savage 2000. All these companies know that having a successful high-end flagship product helps to establish the low-end products based on the same technology.
We all know that Nvidia, S3, and 3dfx have their next generation products, but what does ATI have hidden away in its workshop? Well, they've been working on a special project: the Rage Fury MAXX. The "MAXX" indicates "multiple accelerator or multiple ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit)" technology. We managed to snag one of these new Rage Fury MAXX boards and ran it through our usual benchmark suite. Read on to find out about the card, and how "multiple accelerator" technology makes this card fly.