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Monday, July 17, 2000

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Details on Radeon FSAA
8:22 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

As more details emerge about ATI's new RADEON cards, which according to one news release will be announced for Mac OS on the 19th, one question begins to emerge - does this card surpass 3dfx's 'killer app' - Full-Screen Anti-Aliasing? The result is quite surprising. According to benchmarks at Tom's Hardware and Sharky Extreme it looks like the Radeon can beat even the Voodoo5 5500 in a wide variety of benchmarks with high-quality FSAA (32-bit) turned on.

What is FSAA? This is a special process which allows the 'jaggies,' rough edges and other blemishes that mar 3D games to be smoothed on the fly, creating a much more attractive and immersive experience. While this smoothing comes at a cost in frame rate, the speed penalty is fairly minor at low resolutions (640x480), which is the whole point - previously, users were playing at 1024x768 and higher to hide those imperfections; now you can play at a lower resolution with better smoothing.

3dfx has played FSAA to be the primary advantage of their Voodoo5 5500 card, as this is their only real 'win' over competitor NVIDIA's offerings. Tom's Hardware seems to feel that the ATI Radeon can rival the V5's vaunted FSAA, however:

The VD5 5500 does have a slight video quality edge in this mode but it's very hard to tell the two pictures apart. It takes very close examination to notice the differences at this setting. When we bring our high color and resolution FSAA modes into the testing, the Radeon rages forward to take a commanding lead over the 3dfx offering. ATi can probably chalk this win up thanks to Hyper Z as it saves precious memory, bandwidth and processing time.
The benchmarks on Sharky's and Tom's Hardware both seem to point clearly to one conclusion - in 32bit, the Radeon can't be touched. Of course, these frame rates are on high-end PC systems; it remains to be seen what the Voodoo5 5500 and the ATI Radeon can achieve on Mac hardware. We look forward to seeing these cards in action very soon - perhaps we will even glimpse a Radeon at MWNY. Stay tuned!

Voodoo4/5 In Depth
Voodoo5 Mac Screen Shots
Sharky Guide to Radeon 64 MB DDR
Tom's Hardware Radeon Feature
Tom's Hardware Radeon FSAA Benchmarks
Radeon AGP

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