ATI has officially launched its X800 series of graphics cards, formerly known as R420. The boards will come in two flavors, the RADEON X800 XT Platinum Edition available later this month for USD 499 and the RADEON X800 PRO, available immediately for USD 399.
As expected the RADEON X800 XT Platinum Edition will be powered by a 16-pipe pixel processing engine clocked at 520MHz. To take advantage of the massive pixel processing power the product has been paired with high-speed 1.12GHz data rate GDDR3 memory and a 256-bit memory interface.
The RADEON X800 PRO, will be powered by a 12-pipe pixel processing engine clocked at 475MHz. A 256-bit memory interface and GDDR3 memory with a 900MHz data rate. The RADEON X800 PRO is shipping immediately and customers can purchase it online through major retailers in North America starting today.
The official announcement also includes some information on the features of the new cards including details on 3Dc normal map compression and developer testimony on the applications of 3Dc.
The RADEON X800 includes new features that will enhance a gamer's experience immediately and will help game developers deliver great games for the future. For example, ATI's new compression technology 3Dc, will easily allow game developers to create better-looking games by using high-resolution normal maps. Normal maps are used to give characters and scenes high levels of detail without the performance hit that would normally be associated with using high-polygon models. For gamers this means that their games will look better than ever without impacting performance, which is of utmost importance in high definition gaming.
As soon as we began working with normal mapping in our games, we quickly realized that one of our biggest bottlenecks was going to be the memory usage of un-compressed normal map textures. Up until now, our only options have been to use some kind of low-quality compression, or to cut back on the number and size of normal mapped assets, said Rowan Wyborn, Irrational Games. With 3Dc, we finally have a high-quality compression solution that gives almost perfect results, with 4:1 savings in texture memory. This will allow us to put much finer detail into objects than we could previously and increase the number of normal mapped assets we can put in our games without blowing our texture budget.
Ritual Entertainment will use ATI's new 3Dc normal map compression technology to double the detail in our next generation game environments, said Doug Service, Director of Technology Development, Ritual Entertainment. Thanks to ATI, we can now create normal maps with twice the amount of detail that use the same amount of memory as our original uncompressed normal maps. This will lead to an outstanding increase in visual fidelity for the characters and the entire scene. Ultimately, what ATI's 3Dc normal map compression technology means to gamers is more highly detailed game worlds and a more immersive game play experience.
The RADEON X800 builds upon ATI's success delivering visual processors for the high-end gaming and computer enthusiast market. Currently nearly 80% of high-performance DirectX 9 graphics cards shipping are powered by ATI's visual processors, said Dean McCarron, Mercury Research. The new RADEON X800 series visual processors demonstrate ATI's continued focus on the high-end segment of the PC graphics market.
ATI and its worldwide board partners will offer several configurations of graphics boards based on the RADEON X800 chips. Board partners that will be shipping RADEON X800 products include ABIT, ASUS, Celestica, Club 3D, Connect 3D, Creative, Diamond, Elsa, FIC, Gigabyte, Hightech Information Systems, Info-Tek, MSI, Sapphire, Tul, VisionTek, Xpertvision and Yuan.
System Integrators including ABS, Alienware, Falcon Northwest, Velocity Micro, VoodooPC and ZT Group will include the RADEON X800 in their systems for customers who want the ultimate gaming PC.