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Sharky Extreme : Video cards November 8, 2011
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Video cards


ATI Introduces the Radeon 9700, 9500 Pro and 9500

By Vince Freeman :  October 24, 2002


The release of the ATI Radeon 9700 Pro and Radeon 9000/Pro allowed ATI to hit two of their main target markets, and both helped achieve a competitive advantage over NVIDIA. The Radeon 9700 Pro is a true powerhouse, capable of smoking any current 3D card, while the Radeon 9000 and 9000 Pro allowed ATI to hit the entry-level market with a fully DirectX 8-compliant product. The only problem was that the performance difference between the two was in the neighborhood of the Grand Canyon, and ATI really needed some new products to fill the gulf.

This is important due to the highly defined markets for 3D video cards. The Radeon 9700 Pro may be top dog, but estimates place the number of buyers willing to fork over $350+ at around 1% of the total. The Radeon 9000 and 9000 Pro cover a far larger segment, but ATI still had no competitive product in the $150-$350 range. This is NVIDIA territory, and taking on their GeForce4 Ti line is obviously a task ATI had their sights set on.

Today ATI has unveiled three new products, and each takes a specific section of the 3D video card pie, and each seems to be tailored to go up against the best from NVIDIA. Each of the new cards are built upon Radeon 9700 technology, and are iterations on the same design philosophy. The Radeon 9700 is a lower-speed version of the Radeon 9700 Pro, while the Radeon 9500 and 9500 Pro are more scaled-down versions of the flagship ATI card. These new products are designed towards finding that perfect mix of price, performance and features for their individual markets, and for the most part, look to be right on target.

The ATI Radeon 9700

The first new product we'll be covering is perhaps the easiest to quantify, and follows along with standard industry formats. The Radeon 9700 Pro featured an ultra-high 325 MHz core and 620 MHz memory speeds, so it would only be natural for the Radeon 9700 to tone these down somewhat, in order to hit a lower price point. That's exactly what ATI has done, and the Radeon 9700 sports lower core and memory speeds, while not losing any of the core features that made the Pro version such a hit.

The Radeon 9700 runs at 275 core and 540 MHz memory, which is a noticeable drop from the Radeon 9700 Pro. The key is that lower clock speeds is really all you're losing, as the Radeon 9700 still includes 8 pixel pipelines, and a 256-bit interface to the 128-MB of DDR memory. This is exactly what NVIDIA did with all of their GeForce-based cards, and ATI looks to transition their high-end technology downward, in much the same way as the NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4200 and GeForce3 Ti 200.

Even with core and memory speeds lower than a Radeon 9700 Pro, the Radeon 9700 still has specifications in excess of competing NVIDIA cards. For example, 8 pipelines of the Radeon 9700 help it achieve almost double the fillrate of the GeForce4 Ti 4600 (2.2 Gpixels/sec. vs. 1.2 Gpixels/sec.), while the 256-bit memory also shows a large advantage (17.3 GB/sec. vs. 10.4 GB/sec.). Although overall performance has other factors (such as drivers), the Radeon 9700 shows even at lower-than GeForce4 Ti 4600 clock speeds, its more robust architecture will likely give it the lead.

The suggested retail price of the Radeon 9700 is approximately $299, which still places it a bit higher than a name brand GeForce4 Ti 4600. The key ingredient here is that ATI will not be producing Radeon 9700 cards, leaving the job entirely in the hands of their OEM and 3rd-party retail partners. This should translate into enhanced competition and at least the potential of street prices dipping below the $299 level.

  • Page 1

    The ATI Radeon 9700

    Page 2

    The ATI Radeon 9500 Pro and 9500

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