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The History of the Modern Graphics Processor, Part 4: The Coming of General Purpose GPUs

The History of the Modern Graphics Processor, Part 4: The Coming of General Purpose GPUs

With DX10's arrival, vertex and pixel shaders maintained a large level of common function, so moving to a unified shader arch eliminated a lot of unnecessary duplication of processing blocks. The first GPU to utilize this architecture was Nvidia's iconic G80.

Four years in development and $475 million produced a 681 million-transistor, 484mm² behemoth -- first as the 8800 GTX flagship and then with cards aimed at several segments. Aided by the new Coverage Sample anti-aliasing (CSAA) algorithm, Nvidia saw its GTX demolish every single competitor in outright performance.

The History of the Modern Graphics Processor, Part 3: The Nvidia vs. ATI era begins

The History of the Modern Graphics Processor, Part 3: The Nvidia vs. ATI era begins

With the turn of the century the graphics industry bore witness to further consolidation. Where 3dfx was once a byword for raw performance, its strengths before its dismissal laid in its full screen antialiasing image quality. By the time 2001 dawned, the PC graphics market consisted of a discrete card duopoly (Nvidia and ATI), with both of them in addition to Intel supplying the vast majority of integrated graphics chipsets.

Prior to the Voodoo 5’s arrival, ATI had announced the Radeon DDR as “the most powerful graphics processor ever designed for desktop PCs.” Previews of the card had already gone public on April 25, and only twenty-four hours later Nvidia countered with the announcement of the GeForce 2 GTS (GigaTexel Shader).

The History of the Modern Graphics Processor, Part 2: 3Dfx Voodoo, the game-changer

The History of the Modern Graphics Processor, Part 2: 3Dfx Voodoo, the game-changer

Launched on November 1996, 3Dfx's Voodoo graphics consisted of a 3D-only card that required a VGA cable pass-through from a separate 2D card to the Voodoo, which then connected to the display. Voodoo Graphics revolutionized personal computer graphics nearly overnight and rendered many other designs obsolete, including a vast swathe of 2D-only graphics producers.

The 3D landscape in 1996 favoured S3 with around 50% of the market. That was to change soon, however. It was estimated that 3Dfx accounted for 80-85% of the 3D accelerator market during the heyday of Voodoo’s reign. Later on Nvidia would revive with the RIVA series and eventually land their greatest success with the first GeForce graphics card.

The History of the Modern Graphics Processor, Part 1

The History of the Modern Graphics Processor, Part 1

The evolution of the modern graphics processor begins with the introduction of the first 3D add-in cards in 1995, followed by the widespread adoption of the 32-bit operating systems and the affordable personal computer.

While 3D graphics turned a fairly dull PC industry into a light and magic show, they owe their existence to generations of innovative endeavour. Over the next few weeks we'll be taking an extensive look at the history of the GPU, going from the early days of 3D consumer graphics, to the 3Dfx Voodoo game-changer, the industry's consolidation at the turn of the century, and today's modern GPGPU.

Best of Graphics Cards: Gaming at 1920x1200 and 2560x1600

Best of Graphics Cards: Gaming at 1920x1200 and 2560x1600

A powerful graphics card is likely the most expensive component in your PC if you're a gamer, but with all current and past-gen GPUs available in the range of $100 to $500, it can be tough to pick the right solution for your needs.

In an effort to narrow things down, we're about to compare today's most relevant gaming cards that sell for $200 or more, testing them in a slew of games to see how it breaks down as we look for the best graphics cards for gaming at resolutions of 1920x1200 and 2560x1600.

Gigabyte Radeon HD 7950 WindForce 3 Graphics Card Review

Gigabyte Radeon HD 7950 WindForce 3 Graphics Card Review

AMD offers a valid alternative to its flagship GPU with the Radeon HD 7950, which is essentially a lower-specced and lower-priced version of the HD 7970. The HD 7950 is set at $419 for the 1536MB version, while the full 3072MB variant is $449. Although it's currently possible to find a 3GB model for $449, you can expect to pay closer to $500.

Gigabyte has redesigned the PCB and included an upgraded cooler on the WindForce 3 that is meant to lower temperatures and improve overclocking. Considering the HD 7970's respectable performance, we expect a solid showing from the HD 7950.

Weekend tech reading: What went wrong with AMD?

Weekend tech reading: What went wrong with AMD?

Five years ago, AMD looked set to topple Intel. Now its very existence is under threat. Mike Jennings investigates what went wrong In 2006, AMD could seemingly do no wrong. Its processors were the fastest in the PC market, annual revenue was up a record 91%...

AMD Radeon HD 7950 delayed until February

AMD Radeon HD 7950 delayed until February

AMD has reportedly decided to push back the launch of the Radeon HD 7950 until early February. According to the Guru of 3D, AMD made the decision to avoid another paper launch and have the card available on the market when it actually launches.

AMD-branded memory coming to the US

AMD-branded memory coming to the US

Advanced Micro Devices has announced that they will be bringing company-branded memory modules to the United States. The brand will be introduced with two strategic launch partners: Patriot Memory and VisionTek.
Triple Monitor Gaming: GeForce GTX 590 vs. Radeon HD 6990

Triple Monitor Gaming: GeForce GTX 590 vs. Radeon HD 6990

By utilizing three monitors games can become roughly 3x more demanding as the graphics card is required to render an overwhelmingly higher number of pixels. While we commonly test graphics cards at single monitor resolutions, today we are adding two more LCDs for effective resolutions of 5040x1050, 5760x1200 and 7680x1600.

In this article we will explore the kind of performance you can expect from the GeForce GTX 590 and Radeon HD 6990 graphics cards when playing several popular games using triple 22”, 24” or 30” monitor configurations.