InterviewIMG: This is the OEM version of the 9700 for Mirrored-Door Drive (MDD) machines only, because of the power connection on the board. Would it be possible to make the card work in earlier machines eventually, or will that definitely have to be a separate retail version?
Bruno Fernandes: The OEM board currently works only in the MDD machines, which isn't a problem for Apple as it's what the board was ordered for. I can't say for sure if it can be tweaked to work in other machines, but it's not something we're looking at right now.
IMG: If there is a separate retail version, is the plan to stick with just the same 9700 specs and a new power connector? Or will it be an upgraded version of this card?
Bruno Fernandes: The retail card, which was semi-announced (previewed) at Macworld, features a VGA, DVI and TV-Out connection. No ADC. It is based on the PC card and not the Apple OEM 9700. It does feature an internal power connector.
IMG: Is there any chance of a Mac Radeon 9800 instead of a retail 9700 at this point?
Bruno Fernandes: I don't think anyone from inside ATI would ever mention anything about the possibility of future products to anyone outside the company. :) I believe it's too early at this time to comment on the possibility/probability of unannounced products.
IMG: If a Mac version of the Radeon 9800 were to be developed, would any significant changes need to be made to the drivers being developed for this OEM 9700?
Chris Bentley: No
Bruno Fernandes: This does not mean that people can buy a PC 9800 card and expect it to work in their Mac. Nor can they expect to flash Apple's OEM ROM to a PC card and expect that to work either. Just wanted to keep that straight.
IMG: Some benchmarks in newer games look "flat" or seem similar to earlier cards, seemingly because of CPU/bus bottlenecks. Short of just "faster processors," is there anything you'd like to see from Apple to improve performance?
Chris Bentley: I don't think so. We worked a lot with them on supporting the Vertex Array Range rendering path. This is the newest and highest performing path to the hardware. In the optimum case it lets the hardware suck down the user's data with no CPU, OpenGL, or driver touching of the data. Newer games, like UT2003, are getting a huge boost from using this path. So really, I think Apple is doing a great job making it possible for apps to run fast. And, yes, faster processors would be nice :-)
IMG: Are there lingering OpenGL optimizations or new extensions which could be implemented in OS X still?
Chris Bentley: The slower "immediate mode" rendering paths (as opposed to the compiled vertex array and vertex array range paths) could be sped up a bunch. This would mainly benefit CAD apps, since games generally use the faster paths. Apple is investigating making these optimizations. We also need to optimize updating potions of textures.
IMG: How far along is the ATI control panel to enable Full-Scene Anti Aliasing across all 3D applications?
Chris Bentley: Quite far along but not ready for review yet.
Bruno Fernandes: I'm sure everyone, including reviewers, will be quite pleased with the value-added features we'll deliver with a retail product.
IMG: Are there any plans to release an even more fully featured All-In-One version of the 9700 for the Mac with video inputs, etc?
Bruno Fernandes: Again, at this time it's too early to discuss the possibility future products. Anything is possible, but you'll see an announcement before anything starts to ship. We were fairly open at Macworld about having some engineering resources allocated to investigating an OS X capture solution. There really aren't any details to share at this moment though.
I believe it is fair to say that the team is committed to the Mac platform and would like to keep the Mac retail market a healthy one. We have been listening to customers and taking into account all the positive criticism we've received in focus groups and tradeshows. The future looks bright for this platform and I think I speak for everyone involved when I say we're happy to be a part of it.
A huge thanks to Chris and Bruno, as well as Eric, Stan, and the rest of the awesome ATI team for their help. Look for much more on the Radeon 9700 in a few days from IMG as well.