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Thursday, October 12, 2000
In-Depth Look at ATi Radeon
6:00 AM | Lucian Fong | Comment on this story

Now that the release of ATi's Radeon is upon us, some of you may be wondering what makes it tick. SharkyExtreme takes a typically detailed (and complex) look at the underlying technologies of the ATi Radeon. One of the technologies explained is ATi's touted Hyper-Z, which consists of three different methods to reduce fillrate and memory requirements: Hierarchical Z, Z Compression and Fast Z Clear. This article is a bit heavy on the technical jargon, so be prepared to dust off your engineering dictionary. Here is a short explanation of how Fast Z-Buffer Clear functions:

Before rendering the next frame, the contents of the Z-buffer for the previous frame are erased. This process is called 'Z-buffer clear' and is typically achieved by overwriting the Z-buffer with zeroes. In the case of Radeon, a clever scheme has been devised to rapidly clear the Z-buffer contents.
The Z-Buffer in a 3D accelerator essentially stores the coordinates in the Z-plane (as opposed to the X and Y planes) of a 3D scene. This is where the graphics cards determines what can and cannot be seen, by sorting the polygons by 'depth.' Check out Sharky's article for more detailed information on the Radeon, including the information that current games aren't even taking advantage of the chip's high-end features at this time.

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