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Review: Sapphire Radeon X1650 Pro
October 28, 2006
Author: MrSlacker Manufacturer: Sapphire Technology
Department: Hardware Model: X1650 PRO
Article Type: Review Time Spent: 1 month
 
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Introduction




As ATI's largest AIB partner, Sapphire is a well known and respected company to most DIY system builders. The video card business is alot like the car business in that it battles for the performance crown constantly. Fastest car on the racetrack or fastest 3D rendering engine--the stakes are the same--sales way down the food chain in the mid-range or "budget segment".

At first glance, it looks like the battle is a simple matter of securing bragging rights, and, of course, to some extent that is true. On a more practical level, it is a proving ground for new technologies that will trickle down eventually--bleeding edge of speed at the top end today, heart of the mid-range tomorrow.

ATI and nVidia battle for the media spotlight with ever faster uber cards, but the real war is waged in the trenches when that technology hits the big money budget segment, and score is kept by accountants. Today, we have a look at one of ATI's "foot soldiers" the Sapphire Radeon X1650 PRO.


Specifications

As we are well into this core cycle for ATI cards, most of you are already familiar with the nuts and bolts. With that in mind, I will forgo the usual sleep inducing in-depth look at pixel pipelines and shader engines, and post the specs directly from Sapphire's site for those who need them--the rest of you can just skip on to the good stuff.

Features
  • 157 million transistors on 90nm fabrication process
  • Dual-link DVI
  • Twelve pixel shader processors
  • Five vertex shader processors
  • 128-bit 4-channel DDR/DDR2/GDDR3 memory interface
  • Native PCI Express x16 bus interface
    • AGP 8x configurations also supported with AGP-PCI-E external bridge chip
  • Dynamic Voltage Control
Ring Bus Memory Controller
  • 256-bit internal ring bus for memory reads
  • Programmable intelligent arbitration logic
  • Fully associative texture, color, and Z/stencil cache designs
  • Hierarchical Z-buffer with Early Z test
  • Lossless Z Compression (up to 48:1)
  • Fast Z-Buffer Clear
  • Z/stencil cache optimized for real-time shadow rendering
Ultra-Threaded Shader Engine
  • Support for Microsoft® DirectX® 9.0 Shader Model 3.0 programmable vertex and pixel shaders in hardware
  • Full speed 128-bit floating point processing for all shader operations
  • Up to 128 simultaneous pixel threads
  • Dedicated branch execution units for high performance dynamic branching and flow control
  • Dedicated texture address units for improved efficiency
  • 3Dc+ texture compression
    • High quality 4:1 compression for normal maps and two-channel data formats
    • High quality 2:1 compression for luminance maps and single-channel data formats
  • Multiple Render Target (MRT) support
  • Render to vertex buffer support
  • Complete feature set also supported in OpenGL® 2.0
Advanced Image Quality Features
  • 64-bit floating point HDR rendering supported throughout the pipeline
    • Includes support for blending and multi-sample anti-aliasing
  • 32-bit integer HDR (10:10:10:2) format supported throughout the pipeline
    • Includes support for blending and multi-sample anti-aliasing
  • 2x/4x/6x Anti-Aliasing modes
    • Multi-sample algorithm with gamma correction, programmable sparse sample patterns, and centroid sampling
    • New Adaptive Anti-Aliasing feature with Performance and Quality modes
    • Temporal Anti-Aliasing mode
    • Lossless Color Compression (up to 6:1) at all resolutions, including widescreen HDTV resolutions
  • 2x/4x/8x/16x Anisotropic Filtering modes
    • Up to 128-tap texture filtering
    • Adaptive algorithm with Performance and Quality options
  • High resolution texture support (up to 4k x 4k)
Avivo Video and Display Platform
  • High performance programmable video processor
    • Accelerated MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, WMV9, VC-1, and H.264 decoding and transcoding
    • DXVA support
    • De-blocking and noise reduction filtering
    • Motion compensation, IDCT, DCT and color space conversion
    • Vector adaptive per-pixel de-interlacing
    • 3:2 pulldown (frame rate conversion)
  • Seamless integration of pixel shaders with video in real time
  • HDR tone mapping acceleration
    • Maps any input format to 10 bit per channel output
  • Flexible display support
    • DVI 1.0 compliant / HDMI interoperable and HDCP ready **
    • Dual integrated 10 bit per channel 400 MHz DACs
    • 16 bit per channel floating point HDR and 10 bit per channel DVI output
    • Programmable piecewise linear gamma correction, color correction, and color space conversion (10 bits per color)
    • Complete, independent color controls and video overlays for each display
    • High quality pre- and post-scaling engines, with underscan support for all outputs
    • Content-adaptive de-flicker filtering for interlaced displays
    • Xilleon TV encoder for high quality analog output
    • YPrPb component output for direct drive of HDTV displays*
    • Spatial/temporal dithering enables 10-bit color quality on 8-bit and 6-bit displays
    • Fast, glitch-free mode switching
    • VGA mode support on all outputs
    • Drive two displays simultaneously with independent resolutions and refresh rates
  • Compatible with ATI TV/Video encoder products, including Theater 550
CrossFire
  • Multi-GPU technology
  • Four modes of operation:
    • Alternate Frame Rendering (maximum performance)
    • Supertiling (optimal load-balancing)
    • Scissor (compatibility)
    • Super AA 8x/10x/12x/14x (maximum image quality)


 
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