IslandGamers-Technology And Gaming Info

May 25, 2007

ATI- Catalyst 6.11 Drivers released

Filed under: ATI — Ramajay @ 7:11 am

The big feature in this release is full Crossfire in Software support for the range of X1900 graphics cards. This is Crossfire without the requirement for that huge external dongle.

“Performance improvements:
As with most Catalyst® releases, performance has increased in various situations. In this release of Catalyst® Call of Duty 2 performance improves as much as 12.5% at 1920×1200 settings and as much as 10.5% at 1280×1024 settings on X1900 Software Crossfire configurations. Largest gains are seen with 4x Anti-Aliasing enabled.

New Features
Software Crossfire™ Support for the Radeon X1900/X1950 Series of Products
Catalyst 6.11 introduces software CrossFire™ support for any combination of ATI Radeon X1900 and ATI Radeon X1950 installed in a system running either Windows XP or Windows XP Professional x64 Edition operating system Note: The ATI Radeon X1950 PRO is not supported in software Crossfire mode and can only be used with another ATI Radeon X1950 PRO in Hardware Crossfire mode “

Grab the drivers here

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May 14, 2007

ATI- Radeon HD 2900XT Reviews On Net.

Filed under: AMD, ATI, Nvidia, PC Games — Ramajay @ 9:01 am

The results from the reviews are as described in our earlier post here. The card is a disappointment to those hoping for a frame rate monster and does not compete in the high-end with Nvidia’s 8800GTX card based on pure gaming performance.

The summary from various reviews is that the card performs about the same as the Nvidia 8800GTS in most games. The 2900XT ,however, draws an alarming 200W of power under load and ATI/AMD recommends a 550W powersupply at minimum and a 750W power supply if you are thinking of a crossfire solution. The card is longer than the GTS and in addition to this immense power draw it requires a large cooler which one review site described as a mini A/C unit. The 2900XT has been reported to idle at around 70c and peak at 84c when under load during a 3DMark2006 benchmark.

Nvidia now owns the high-end, and we did not see an offering from ATI that matched the performance improvements of the old 9700 series of graphics cards which totally eclipsed Nvidia FX series for an entire generation all the way up to the X800 XT cards vs Nvidia’s 5900 Fxs.

The 2900XT does offer the usual great image quality from ATI, with some new modes such as HQ Anisotropic rendering and CSAA modes faring quite well in image quality testing. The card also delivers HD right out the box which allows you to view 1080P HD content with just a 10-15% impact on your CPU as the entire decoding process is managed on the graphics card itself. Potential buyers also need to take into account that these cards come standard with High Def HDMI connectors which provides HDCP immediately, with sound. ATI also arranged a bundle deal with Valve to give you some free Steam titles due to be released: HL2:Episode 2, Portal and Team Fortress.

The 2900XT is priced at around US$399.00.

ATI is looking a bit better in the low to midrange market, with the 2600 and 2400 series of cards sipping power and providing some good performance, although we have yet to see these cards benchmarked and on the market. Consumers will actually have to wait till around July for the 2600 and 2400 to hit store shelves.

From a pure performance perspective, Enthusiast gamers will go for the 8800GTX when Frames per second is king. Those people looking to watch their pockets and who view HD content on their PCs may opt for the ATI solution as they weigh the noise factor and power supply issues.

Check the reviews for yourself here:

May 6, 2007

ATI – R600 X2900XTX a Disappointment

Filed under: ATI, Nvidia, PC, PC Games — Ramajay @ 6:24 pm

DailyTech has performed an initial benchmark test with Retail drivers of the X2900XT and XTX graphics card from ATI. If readers recall, this card utilises ATI’s new R600 chip and has been delayed several times supposedly to allow ATI to release a full lineup of DirectX10 cards to the market at the same time.

Nvidia released the high end 8800GTX and GTS series late last year, and has now introduced midrange entries to market.

Some analysts touted that the R600 would definitely trump the 8800GTX’s performance figures and far outclass Nvidia’s DX10 offerings.

The actual benchmark performance does not eclipse Nvidia’s top end 8800GTX card, however, and instead ATI’s flagship top -of -the -line offering competes directly with the 8800GTS, the next step down from the 8800GTX.

In Company of Heroes, the 8800GTX pushed 80fps while ATI 2900XTX managed to deliver 53.2fps at the widescreen gaming resolution of 1920×1200. Eldersrolls IV:Oblivion showed the 8800GTX similarly outperforming the ATI XTX card by 23.3 fps with the GTX pushing 98.4fps and the XTX 75.1fps.

Things don’t look good for ATI at this point with regard competing with Nvidia in the DX10 market. The balance has swung once more over to Nvidia with regard to best performing card after their FX series debacle. The company has also never given up the marketing lead and prospective buyers are still far more likely to see an Nvidia advertisement online or in a game rather than the ATI brand.

This coupled with the fact that ATI will not be able to boast even similar performance to the Nvidia card and it makes it very difficult for them to compete, unless they attempt to differentiate themselves based on quality, or better HD television output.

We’ll let you know more about this battle between the Graphics Card giants as it unfolds!

March 7, 2007

ATI – Another external graphics solution called LASSO!

Filed under: ATI, HDTV, Notebooks, Nvidia, PC, PC Games — Ramajay @ 10:29 am

lasso.jpgIt seems that external graphics solutions are set to become all the rage later this year. ATI has answered ASUS’ XG Station with Lasso! They have demonstrated an ATI 1950 graphics card running outside a system and connected via PCI Express Cable to the mainboard powering the graphics of a PC. Their Lasso system is different from the ASUS XG Station in that it is not aimed primarily at video graphics, but is also meant to support GPGPU (General Purpose GPU) Processing which has already been shown to have tremendous utility in the realm of scientific calculations.

The idea behind this is to allow the user to connect one, or more external Graphics Cards to their PC to perform either full graphics processing (the most obvious implementation for gamers) or to use additional graphics cards to provide processing power for applications that support this method. You may recall that ATI and NVIDIA both planned to introduce a software API for game developers to allow them to use a second or third graphics card as a Physics Processor to provide advanced physics in games.

LASSO relies on the latest PCI-SIG spec for Cabled PCI. This ties into the fast PCI Express Bus to allow external devices direct, fast input/output access to the system. Cabled PCI is a lot faster than either USB or Firewire, and tops out at about 80GB/s , just enough for High Resolution HDTV broadcasts. You can tie cables together to increase bandwidth as well, and can go as high as the full PCI-16X (80GB/s) spec outside your computer.

2004_pcie_002.gif

The Chart to the left shows where PCI Bandwidth taps out and the variety of services that it can accommodate based solely on its bandwidth capacity.

This opens the way for smaller, modular desktop systems where the desktop case form factor is no longer an impediment to near infinite upgrade paths. Clever design can lead to stackable form factors where your Desktop is a little cube, and you can stack additional ‘cubes’ to provide Graphics, Sound, or additional Processing Power.

One issue I can think of would be all the additional cords that would clutter your desk. Each cube will need to be connected by two cords, one for power and the other for the CablePCI cable. So if you have three of these then you now have six additional cords cluttering your computer area.

The technology opens a new paradigm for how we view our Computer systems and how system manufacturers approach Upgradeability and Value Add services. Are you ever going to purchase a Dell system with dual graphics cards when you can get a small form factor system and then purchase an SLI ‘cube’ at retail afterward perhaps at a cheaper cost? Think the iMac except you’re not plugging in an external DVD reader but instead you plug in a graphics card solution that will give you 150fps in Oblivion 🙂

February 22, 2007

ATI- New Catalyst Drivers ready

Filed under: ATI — Ramajay @ 6:53 am

ATI has released new Catalyst drivers for XP and Vista. They have addressed some of the performance issues with OpenGL games as well as a new version of their Catalyst Control Center for XP:

“Catalyst™ 7.2 introduces a brand new version of the Catalyst™ Control Center for Windows XP. The new Catalyst™ Control Center delivers a number of significant enhancements:

  • Significant performance gains; Catalyst™ Control Center start-up time has been substantially reduced, and overall responsiveness has improved.
  • Reduced system resource usage
  • New 3D preview which significantly improves the ability for users to understand the benefits of enabling the many Catalyst™ features of their ATI Radeon™ graphics accelerator
  • Increased stability
  • Native 32 and 64-bit support

Performance Improvements
Open GL performance improves for all ATI Radeon™ X1000 series products. Gains of up to 25% in Doom 3, 48% in Quake 4 and 21% in Prey can be seen on a variety of ATI Radeon™ X1000 cards. These performance gains are noticed under the Windows Vista operating system.”

Catalyst Control Center definitely needed optimising for startup and resource usage. To say that this little control panel was a resource hog is an understatement. We’ll look out for future reviews to see if the improvements are significant, although any performance improvement would be a step in the right direction for the CCC.

ATI – R600 Graphics Card Delayed Again.

Filed under: ATI — Ramajay @ 6:46 am

ATI’s next generation DX10 Graphics Card has been delayed again. Company spokesmen claim that this delay is to enable them to deliver a product line that will cater to a wider market segment. The cards are expected close to the end of June, which seems a long ways away for anyone who expected the cards next month. The benchmarks on the R600 chipset have reportedly been much higher than Nvidia’s 8800 series, but given Nvidia an almost half a year lead on the market is an odd move. The cards are supposedly ready to go, pending a few minor fixes that shouldn’t have taken an extra 4 months, but perhaps there are more problems with them currently than ATI wants to let on. Another school of thought is that the motherboard manufacturers dragged their feet on manufacturing enough of the new motherboards that support the seamless Crossfire implementation and also allow a third card to function as a physics/math processor.

DirectX 10 games aren’t expected until May or June, at the earliest, so ATI won’t miss that boat (we hope!). Additionally Nvidia has been having a lot of problems with Vista drivers as well as numerous glitches in Windows XP with their 8800 cards, these cards are apparently not working 100% with more than a few titles causing no end of frustration to Nvidia 8800 owners. Perhaps ATI too is experiencing Vista driver issues, although their latest Catalyst drivers are far ahead of Nvidia’s in performance, and wishes to iron out all the bugs before launching their DX10 lineup.

Whatever the reason, it isn’t news that computer enthusiasts wanted to hear, and some people may face a tough choice of upgrading or purchasing a new system now with an Nvidia 8800 GTX/GTS or waiting for an as yet unseen and untested ATI R600 card which is supposed to be better than the 8800.

February 8, 2007

ATI – R600 delayed until March, release expected to be “Shocking”.

Filed under: ATI — Ramajay @ 12:17 pm

ATI’s Direct X10 offering, which apparently outperforms Nvidia’s 8800 series by a large margin, has been delayed until the end of March. The DX 10 hardware from ATI was supposed to be released at the end of February for the latest, but a few problems with the hardware seems to have forced them to head back to the drawing board.

"The last revision of the prototype chip - upon which a certain "pre-review" is based - also suffers from problems which are serious enough to get another re-spin, sources tell me. This re-spin puts a hold on the launch for another couple of weeks, and now R600 is looking like an early March launch, probably the week before SnowBIT in Hangover. However, AMD/ATI is making severe changes to the whole line up and we can say that this launch, when it happens, will be very, very shocking for the 3D industry." TheInquirer

What on earth could this super news be? Is ATI going to drop a bomb and undercut the pricing of Nvidia’s 8800 card? Rumor has it that ATI’s newest offerings do not require the unwieldly cable in the back of your machine for Crossfire. I’ve also read that they have found a solution that offers 4 cards working together, and supposedly it scales very well (though I’d be surprised if they managed to achieve the goal of 4 times the performance of a single card). We’ll have to wait and see what ATI delivers in March, it does sound exciting though 🙂 .

January 31, 2007

Vista – Gaming Comparison between ATI and Nvidia

Filed under: ATI, Nvidia, Windows VISTA — Ramajay @ 5:27 am

The folks over at Pc Perspective have given a comparison of the driver support and performance in Vista of ATI and Nvidia cards. From their review it seems that the latest ATI Catalyst driver version now has Crossfire support. Their findings indicate, though, that for whatever reason gaming performance still seems to be generally lower across the board from Windows XP.

The article concludes with this:

“For now, gamers that were interested in running off to get a copy of Windows Vista, I’d caution you to take a minute and contemplate. Gaming under Vista is definitely possible and if you’re comfortable with some slight performance drops for now while taking advantage of Vista’s other new features, then a move to Vista sooner rather than later should be considered. If gaming and gaming performance is your only metric for your PC, then I’d definitely hold out on upgrading until AMD and NVIDIA have their software perfected. ”

From the article, ATI’s Vista Drivers seem much, much further along than Nvidia’s however, and if you have an ATI system then you might not feel quite as much of a pinch gaming under Vista as the Nvidia boys. Those of you that were ‘early adopters’ and grabbed an Nvidia 8800 card, Vista will probably be a frustrating experience for gaming. The article sited performance drops of as much as 52% during Half Life 2 Lost Coast testing. Prey, an OpenGL game, showed performance drops of as much as 37% across the board and the minimum framerate dropped by 60%. The game wouldn’t even run on the ATI cards, though ATI has stated openly that it’s OpenGL implementation in Vista is focussed on stability, not full compatibility and performance optimisations yet.

January 29, 2007

Vista – Four Hours To Go!

Filed under: ATI, Nvidia, Windows VISTA — Ramajay @ 8:09 pm

vista-graphic_450_v50227601_.jpg

Vista is apparently already on the shelves at Circuit City stores throughout the United States! As we count down to midnight when the OS will be available worldwide we were anxious to see the latest release drivers from our embattled multimedia companies, ATI, NVIDIA and Creative Labs! Unfortunately their most recent driver leaks still did not have support for all graphics features in Windows XP, namely SLI didn’t work.

4 Hours guys….4 hours to release!

January 1, 2007

ATI – New RS600 Card Revealed!

Filed under: ATI — Ramajay @ 11:01 pm

ATI, or should we say AMD since they bought ATI, has taken its time releasing their DX10 NextGen card. Nvidia beat them to market with their 8800GTX (G80) high end DirectX10 Graphics Card which simply blew everything currently on the market away. Nvidia’s hardware posted unbelievable benchmarks and sported 768MB of onboard memory. The card has had its fair share of problems though, and the jury is out on whether these are simply Driver based, or whether they relate to problems with the hardware.

Enter ATI. Many observers noted that no one should dive into the DX10 waters just yet before seeing what ATI was going to bring to the party. They were right. Early benchmarks of a Release To Manufacturing version of the ATI DX10 Card have been ‘leaked’, and the test results are astonishing. For regular use we can expect a mere 5% improvement over Nvidia’s 8800GTX, but for gaming ATI trumps the 8800GTX by showing as much as a 20% gain in real-world performance!

Nvidia is known for first optimising their drivers for benchmarks such as 3DMark2006, and on these the performance difference between the ATI Card and Nvidia was just about 5.5%. But when tested with real world games, the ATI surged ahead.

Doom 3- ATI 156fps, Nvidia 127 fps.
Fear – ATI 88.2, Nvidia 75.9
Oblivion – ATI 26.0,Nvidia 19.5

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