July 7, 2008

Another Graphics Benchmark From ATI

By Lim Yeh Ern

WHEN the first TeraFlop computer was introduced in 1996, it used 10,000 Intel Pentium Pro processors, each running at 200 megahertz (MHz), and consumed 500 kilowatts of power with an additional 500KW just to keep it cool.

Now, the same TeraFlop computing is available on a single graphics processing unit, consumes only 110W of power and priced as low as US$199 (RM655) - in the form of the ATI Radeon HD4850.

Based on the second-generation 55-nanometre chip process, the new TeraScale graphics engine combines 800 stream processors and almost one billion transistors, redefining high-definition gaming with seamless frame rates and high-resolution graphics with enhanced anti- aliasing and anisotropic filtering. All these create realistic- looking graphics in the latest DirectX 10 games.

The HD4850 series employs GDDR3 memory with a core and memory clock of 625MHz and 993MHz respectively in a single-slot configuration, delivering two-gigabit-per-second memory bandwidth, while the dual-slot HD4870 is the first graphics card to use GDDR5 that almost doubles the memory bandwidth of the HD4850 at 3.6Gbps with a core clock of 750MHz. HDMI-out is through a bundled DVI-to- HDMI dongle with native Blu-ray and HD DVD decoding support.

Rather than be outright the best just for bragging rights, ATI's approach is to have the best performance at every price range, starting with the HD4850 at US$199 and the HD4870 at US$299. Just weeks prior to the actual launch, local forums were already abuzz with variations of the HD4850 for sale with prices looming way below the US$199 mark, forcing NVidia to slash prices on its GeForce 9800 GTX cards.

It must be noted that the HD4850 triumphs over the GeForce 9800 GTX in four DirectX 10 games and one benchmark by a healthy margin, offering AMD's mantra of "Optimal performance per watt" and low idle power efficiency.

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