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Graphics Software

ATi Radeon 8500 252

punkmac writes: "The new ATi Radeon 2 8500 is finally here, with previews at Anandtech and Tom's Hardware. Could ATi finally have the killer card that we've all been hoping for? With promises of a 33% speed increase from the GeForce 3, they might." Gamespot has a piece too, all published simultaneously. I love it when a hardware company decides to lift their embargo and all the "independent" reviewers dutifully follow the herd. Compare the three articles and see if you can determine which images/text came directly from the press kit.
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ATi Radeon 8500

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  • by Chris Pimlott ( 16212 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @10:33AM (#2109913)
    What else would you have the review sites do? Break their NDAs and publish early, thus both violating their agreement and guarenteeing getting snubbed on all future hardware releases? Or sit on their hands and ignore reporting on the latest hardware (sort of the raison d'etre of hardware sites)?
  • by Wee ( 17189 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @10:43AM (#2110550)
    I couldn't find any mention of Linux in the reviews that I read. Without decent Linux support, the card is useless for me.

    (Say what you will about me wanting actual vendor support, but I went through the DRI hell of owning -- and eventually dumping at a considerable loss -- a Voodoo5 5500. I now have a GeForce2 Ultra and the Nvidia driver was easy to install and works reasonably well. And I could care less that it isn't open source. Their hardware, their driver, my choice to use it. Same as my choice to use Opera. It's the best tool for the job.)

    Anyway, I'd really like to see some of the "independant" review sites (especially Tom's and/or AnandTech) start including a bit about Linux compatibility (including whether or not OSS drivers exist), performance, availability, etc. But I guess since the press kit didn't have any mention of Linux, the reviews won't either, like Michael says. Plenty of ad views on those reviews, though...

    • According to the FAQ [] for the FireGL 8800, they list the following operating systems to be supported:

      NT 4.0 , W2K, Windows XP, Linux 32, Windows XP 64
  • by markhb ( 11721 )
    When will it hit the stores?
    • Availability (Score:4, Interesting)

      by BigBlockMopar ( 191202 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @12:17PM (#2130812) Homepage

      When will it hit the stores?

      Whenever ATI manages to get the beta drivers cut to CD.

      Does a faster video card mean that their terrible Windows drivers will bring a faster BSoD?

      After buying 180 All-In-Wonder Pros for a client (TV network), upgrading the systems a couple of years later and then not being able to get Windows 2000 support for them that actually works (their "MultiMedia Center" hangs the machine or causes BSoDs, and is in perputal beta), I've sworn off ATI.

      Anyone else who is tired of ATI's always broken Windows software want to join me at ATI's lovely Markham, Ontario headquarters? I'll bring the barbecue, and we'll have a video card roast in their parking lot. I know at least one reputable TV network who will cover the protest.

      • Agreed.

        I've put together more than 50 machines in my lifetime, and I have used all of the brands of video cards repeatedly. When the Radeon came out, I used it in place of the Geforce2 MX card (it doesn't compare to the GTS in most cases) several times. I've found that while it has adequate stability most of the time, the performance is downright dismal. My Athlon 800 with a Geforce (first gen) outperforms my Athlon 900 with a Radeon 32MB DDR in several games, and that's pretty sad.

        I don't like it when there is only one brand available, and so I seriously hope that ATI has hit it with this one. One of the reviews mentioned tearing textures though in DirectX applications, and this was one of the worst problems with the old ATI Rage Pro series as well as several other ATI cards....if it happens with this new card, I am seriously done with ATI for good, the NVIDIA products are rock-solid these days.

        • One of the reviews mentioned tearing textures though in DirectX applications, and this was one of the worst problems with the old ATI Rage Pro series as well as several other ATI cards....if it happens with this new card, I am seriously done with ATI for good, the NVIDIA products are rock-solid these days.

          Yeah, I'm not a gamer. To ATI's credit, the quality of the components they use seems to be excellent, and I'd assume that the hardware within ATI's chips is also excellent. Certainly, I've never had one fail, and they've always seemed zippy enough as video cards for my needs.

          My argument is entirely with their software. Ugh. See my reply to the other guy, about another project that I've worked on.

          I can't deal with ATI anymore. I really want to have a video card barbecue in their parking lot. I'm sure their bug rate per 1000 lines of code is far more than even such notoriously bad software as Windows Me.

      • I'm not buying ATI until I start hearing good word-of-mouth stories about their drivers. I've been burnt a few times by their products and absolutely refuse to try them anymore.

        For me, its Matrox... my G400 has gotten more mileage than any card I've ever had before.

        • I'm not buying ATI until I start hearing good word-of-mouth stories about their drivers. I've been burnt a few times by their products and absolutely refuse to try them anymore.

          Imagine having several hundred flight information displays around a major international airport. These are just the computers that drive the monitors all over the place.

          Bone-head decision number one: All the machines are running Windows 95. They won't run under NT or 2000. And the programmer won't port it to Linux or BSD - I tried to convince him, but he didn't have the time, and he thought the airports would balk at it.

          Bone-headed decision number two: My fault. ATI Xpert@Play 98 video cards because they have an NTSC video output which can be fed to each of the old displays in the building. Boss really liked the choice - they're a hometown company, and the scan conversion is in hardware; the drivers don't need to load to enable the NTSC video output.


          All the machines are identical. All the drives were mirror images of each other - same software and ATI drivers, same hardware, same BIOS settings. Windows 95.

          Approximately 25% of the machines, upon rebooting, stop at the "New Hardware Found! PCI Display Adapter" message, even though the Xpert@Play 98 drivers are properly installed.

          Imagine the fun one can have with a ladder, a keyboard, and suspended ceiling panels after engineering does any electrical work in the building...

          Now, do I make a voodoo doll of the guys who designed M$'s crappy Plug and Pray, or do I make a voodoo doll of ATI's incredibly bad programmers?

          Whichever, the voodoo doll will take a ride through Bobo [].

          • Heh, you wouldn't happen to be responsible for this error on the Arrivals monitor in Philadelphia airport:

   po rt/P1010002.JPG

            I couldn't believe they used 95 instead of NT or 2000 for this. Looks almost like they had the cute autologin setup when the box crashed, but it looks like the server did too! One of my more humorous photos ;)
            • Heh, you wouldn't happen to be responsible for this error on the Arrivals monitor in Philadelphia airport

              Nope, and Philadelphia isn't running the same software that I know of.

              But, the same software was running on these:

              A Windows 95 blue screen that we got to see fairly often when the fans in the machine failed and it overheated []. Looks like Heathrow.

              And then, there's London Gatwick. Notice the script that was supposed to relaunch the program if it failed []; in this case a memory leak probably ate all the machine's resouces. I discovered a bug in this FIDS software that ate a 64k page of memory every second. Of course, Windows diligently swapped that out to the hard drive, so it took a few hours before the hard disk was full and the system crashed.

              Now, you have to understand that the guy who wrote this software is the company's *only* programmer, and is responsible for the servers and all the clients, and customizing displays, configuration and stuff for each of several very large airports. I think he's a gifted programmer under tremendous pressure from his company. (If you're looking for a C++ programmer in a Windows environment who has over ten years of experience with designing and building custom database and display software, e-mail me and I'll forward it to him. He's in England, but might be persuaded to relocate.)

              Disclaimer: These photos were e-mailed to me by friends and I don't mean to violate any copyrights which may be in force. Further, neither one of these photos identifies the software company involved.

              Looks almost like they had the cute autologin setup when the box crashed, but it looks like the server did too! One of my more humorous photos ;)
              I couldn't believe they used 95 instead of NT or 2000 for this.

              Well, a lot of the problem is as follows. Airports are very conservative. Their equipment is usually old, tried and true, serial interfacing everywhere. And when you're trying to integrate serial data streams from about 14 different machines - which is what they seem to feed flight information display servers - you need a heck of a lot of serial ports - a multi-IO serial card. And you usually need to be able to manually control the DTR/DSR and other serial handshaking lines, because Arinc, Infax, airports and airlines all seem to do different things with them. We've had more success with some serial cards than others. The solution was basically to write specific drivers for each one, and using the 16 bit subsystem (available in Windows 95/98 only) allowed more precise hardware-level control. Toggle an address, and the DTR light comes on. You know the drill.

              You're also often interfacing the computer to bizarre display devices, which often take the data in their own ways - LED pixelboards, flip down clapperboards, etc. Generally, the old-fashioned way - poking data into a memory location - has been the simplest way for a small company to control them.

              In a closed, trusted LAN, with good hardware and stable software, there's no problem with Windows 95. I've had Windows 95 machines crash out with the 49.7 day memory leak problem, and with that fixed (M$ patch), I've had them die out like UNIX machines: hardware or power failures are the limiting factors. The biggest warning with this, though, is once the machine is starting up and reading data off the network properly, you *don't touch it*. A card house can stand indefinitely if there's no wind.

      • I will agree with that. ATi when it comes to their software is worse then mickeysoft. I had an all-in-wonder 32mb card and using the tv tuner part would lock my machine up. I spent 1 1/2 hours on the phone with them twice to get it to work. I finally got pissed and took it out and got a viper v770 32mb and a haupauge tv pci card....all is fine. I gave that ATi card to my friend and he had the same problems and he spent 2 hours on the phone with them. I think this winter I will upgrade my card to a geforce3 and a 17" or 19" flat panel , if the prices come down more.
    • When will it hit the stores?

      The article on Gamespot basically said: "around the time XP is released".
    • For $399.99, they can take all the time they want. Especially since they don't significantly outperform the geforce3 which is available for about a hundred bucks less.

      Yes, I'm bitter.
  • by andi75 ( 84413 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @10:39AM (#2113821) Homepage
    From the article at
    Let me not forget that the multi-sampling support of Radeon 8500 also allows so extremely important stuff as depth-of-field or motion blur.

    Yeah sure, but does anyone remember the t-buffer? The voodoo5 had those, and I don't think any major developer used it.

    Developers will always keep per-card-programming to a minimum and simple *ignore* those special FX features. It's not 'this effect, and that effect' that is important, but stuff that leads generally improved image quality (think Doom3, which does the lighting identical for every element in the scene)

    - Andreas
    • Voodoo 5 was a special case. If it had a T&L chip everybody would have jumped at it. Their design screwed. The rest of the card is crap - using two chips to achieve what others used one chip for.

      What's the point of using 'special' features on a bad card when that bad card is the only card that supports it.

      I think we have a vastly different situation right now.
  • when i got my ati rage 128 card, X, at that time didnt support it - because ati wouldnt release any specs. they still dont. i really wonder how long it will take before X supports this new card?

    but of course you wouldnt be playing hardware acclerated games on linux other than quake...

    (does anybody reverse engineer the window drivers to get the specs for X i wonder...)
  • by General888 ( 514690 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @10:31AM (#2117976) Homepage
    The card itself seems cool, and I hope it does well.

    But what about the drivers? They are the real issue. I bought an ATI Radeon when they came out. And even on Windows, the drivers were quite buggy. Not just unoptimized, which I think they were too. But also buggy. Many games had clear visual bugs, and you had to be switching options on and off to find something that works. Maybe it's also because the card was new and game makers hadn't been able to test with it to get around the bugs, but I dont think so. I think the drivers were just immature.

    I really hope the drivers have matured. We need something besides NVidia in good consumer level 3D cards. And as ATI has been quite good with releasing the specs for their cards, I wouldn't be sad at all to see ATI gaining some market share from NVidia.

    • ATI = Driver Trash (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      ATI has a long history of releasing drivers that are trash. I've never liked ATI, but I thought I would give them ONE more chance when the released the Radeon with DDR, since it had decent reviews. I had it for one week before I unloaded it on eBay for a steep loss. I have never used a card so terrible in my life. No games worked, drivers were worthless, and Windows 2000 would freeze constantly. Before you complain about Win2k being meant for business apps - nVidia can handle it. I've owned a couple other ATI cards and have had similar results. I don't know how it fares on Linux. I play all my games on my Windows box.
    • I have found ATI to have a great set of features for the price but always buggy drivers under Windows.

      But back in the DOS days they had some really cool products like the EGA Wonder that let me see some CGA and EGA modes on even a monochrome monitor.

      And on my $350 CGA monitor I could play Space Quest and Leisure Suit Larry in glorious 16 colors.

      The only ATI drivers that matter now are for XFree86. As long as they open the hardware specs for Open Sourcerers then I will buy from them.
    • This has always been the sticking point with ATI cards for me. Every ATI card I've owned has had poor Windows drivers (If I see one more blue screen in atidrab.dll...) and they never seem to deliver what they promise. It's pretty scary when I get better performance out of my Matrox G200 than out of the Rage chip in my work machine. (In Black and White in case you are wondering)

      The big killer is that Matrox released a 3D accelerated library for my card (the HAL) that really works nicely in XFree 4 even in FreeBSD. That gesture goes a long way towards making my next video card a Matrox card as well (as well as my friends cards). Good thing for ATI that they release the specs for their cards (albeit a little late usually IIRC). Maybe they can finally put pressure on NVidia to be less protective of the programming interface on their cards.
      • You're playing Black and White at work? You're fired! :)

      • Yes, Matrox releases the (binary only) HAL. ATI gives specs freely to the XFree86 developers. If you want somebody who's less technically competent than you to be able to use the card, for $DEITY's sake, get the ATI. The 3d accelerated drivers ship with a modern distro (I use RedHat primarily), unlike decent drivers for any Nvidia cards or the HAL for the Matrox. Some distros may bend their ideology for the sake of the binary drivers, but you won't see that from Debian or RedHat (I'm thinkin' Caldera here...).

        My point is that the drivers are likely to be better overall for the ATI products, even if it takes an extra couple of weeks to get into CVS at Also, I'm willing to take a slightly lower performance card to make the point that I want specs released. If you want hardware vendors to do the right thing here, vote with you wallet. $.02

      • by tomblackwell ( 6196 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @11:55AM (#2143808) Homepage
        I agree with your ATI driver problems. That's why I ditched my TV Wonder and went to a Matrox TV Tuner with on-board hardware MJPEG compression. Unfortunately, a week later, Matrox announced that they couldn't figure out how to write a driver for it under Win2k, and that they were abandoning driver development for it under all platforms.

        This was after months of promising that bug fixes would be addressed in the new version. The bug fix that I needed was for the tuner to bring in any channel other than Channel 6.

        Needless to say, there is a strongly miffed group of Matrox owners who shelled out 2 or 3 hundred bucks for a sophisticated video capture and compression card, and ended up (due to driver hell) with a TV tuner card equivalent to one that sells for about $30.

        Stay away from Matrox.
    • ATI has a long history of releasing insanely stupid drivers. You can always count on certain things from an ATI driver:

      1. Features you'll never use
      2. Features that don't work
      3. Features that you'll never use, but they don't work anyway, so whatever
      4. The ATI logo suddenly appearing in inappropriate places on your desktop
      5. Drivers that cripple the capabilities of the'll download update after update until about a year later when they finally give up, and you'll never see a performance boost
      6. Buggy

      So I guess what I'm saying is that ATI is completely consistent with a Windows environment.
      • So I guess what I'm saying is that ATI is completely consistent with a Windows environment

        It's not just windows that ATI has problems with. ATI has always been seriously behind releasing updated drivers for the Mac, always pointing the finger at Apple and saying that's who needs to be releasing updated ATI drivers.
  • As long as ATI gets their drivers working properly, they should have no trouble stealing market share from Nvidia. ATI traditionally has trouble developing stable drivers for their video cards.
  • I don't know about Nvidia's or ATI's driver support and performance under Linux so this may be a moot point to some, but... Nvidia on Win32 has generally had VERY good drivers. ATI's have been mediocre and rarely updated, at least in comparison. So that 33% faster than Geforce3 thing may won't make much differnce if that stays the same... Having fast hardware is one thing, but if you don't wring all the performance you can out of the drivers then you will be stuck with good specs and bad benchmarks. I would love for ATI to have the great driver performance and updates that Nvidia does even though I am using my 2nd straight Nvidia Card right now. Compatition is always good, and it would be nice if we could get to a point where the price and performance wars were as competitive as they are in the CPU market :).
    • It looks like NVIDIA have addressed the performance shortfall by releasing new drivers, the "Detonator 4" Drivers, which, according to Toms Hardware, give about a 30% performance increase, so ATI's performance gain has been slashed to about 3-5%, which, given the allowed variation in component quality in manufacturing, pretty much dissappears in the +/- percentile.

      Of course, the card isn't finished yet, so these figures are all meaningless anyway.

  • by evilMoogle ( 304970 ) <[evilmoogle] [at] []> on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @10:31AM (#2129969)
    I love it when a hardware company decides to lift their embargo and all the "independent" reviewers dutifully follow the herd.
    /. on the other hand, NEVER links to press releases, or follows the herd, because /. is all original.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I'm really sick of these meta comments about how much /. sucks, misses the point, or somesuch other ridiculous complaint. You don't like /., go read something else. You didn't post a single sentence about the features of the card, the content of the review, or the viability of drivers under Windows/Linux. There's NOTHING here but a meta statement about Slashdot. This is "Insightful"????

      Moderation has been taken over by an organized group determined to destroy this online forum. I encourage Rob Malda to shut down the moderation system and hire employees to both moderate and censor the forum. As a long time /. reader with a four digit user ID, I long for the days when /. was a content driven forum instead of a place where one can't hide from crap flood off topic posts, links to offensive material, and offensive ascii "art." That junk like this post could get modded up is proof that the moderation system is broken and needs radical repair.

      Please Rob. I can't even post this complaint with my real userID for fear of getting modded down and having my IP suspended from posting. This is just wrong!
    • "I love it when a hardware company decides to lift their embargo and all the "independent" reviewers dutifully follow the herd."

      I don't get why this is a problem... If a hw company wants to orchestrate its product announcement by giving out pre-release review boards on the condition of NDA until the announcement date, I think that's totally legit. Shouldn't hw review sites cover new hw announcements? How does that make them sheep?
    • Slashdot just has this love/hate relationship with all things CNet, including GameSpot. On one hand, they're the "man" with more money than Slashdot could ever have, so they can't possibly be good. On the other, ZDNet and CNet have provided countless articles for Slashdot's front page.

      I for one actually like ZDNet, even with their "mainstream" bent. And I also like on occasion. Their review of the XP kernel (in painstaking detail) was superb.

    • by ethereal ( 13958 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @11:17AM (#2157083) Journal

      But of course - you don't think that anyone actually spells so poorly in real press kits, do you? :)

  • I'm finally going to upgrade my trusty old P233MMX w/Matrox Mill II to something a little more modern - hell, I got a good 5 years out of this system, running Linux.

    Current plans are for an Athlon 1.2 GHz (266)

    So what's a good 3D card to go with this system, given that it is exclusively for Linux?

  • by g2g ( 22747 )
    This hurts. I'm still waiting on my DOA koolance case repair/return to use my brand new Radeon64DDR :( That think handily pounds my card.
  • Catch22 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rev.LoveJoy ( 136856 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @10:34AM (#2131186) Homepage Journal
    The catch 22 of online hardware / gaming reviews:

    No cool reviews = no traffic. You can't afford to purchase hardware / games for each review because you're not making any money. If you DON'T toe the party line from ATI or nVidia or whomever ... no more free demo cards / games / widgets.

    Sure, mod me offtopic, but this is the reason online 'scoop' reviews are so ... homogenous. I'm not sure I have the solution. Does anyone?

    - RLJ

    • Cool reviews = sucking up or an honest review?

      I remember a computer mag I read a long time ago that had an award for awful games called "Ejnar". I always looked for those those reviews first because they where usually the funniest.

      Ofcourse that's a magazine and not a site. But I still wouldn't buy anything based only on a good review.
      • I seem to remember this as well. C|Net's Gamecenter (who are they now? Damn consolidation...) used to run a "Worst Of" for the year's worst games. If you got in early you could nominate games as the worst and then vote on them.

        What a great concept, I bet the internet would be perfect for that ... oh wait.

        - RLJ

    • That is not a catch-22. There's no inherent paradox because there's no incentive to give a bad review (unless journalistic integrity counts, but these game web sites aren't run by journalists anyway.)
    • The articles in this particular story make pretty poor examples of what you're saying, though. The AnandTech review in particular isn't flattering at all -- as far as I'm concerned he made the new card look awful compared to the GeForce3. Seemed like a fair review to me. Tom's Hardware was somewhat more forgiving but still far from a puff piece. Both of them came straight out and said, "This card isn't ready for prime time yet."

      Of course, we'll see if they get to review ATI's next new card, but it's clear that the so-called catch-22 isn't universal.

  • 2d quality? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pangloss ( 25315 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @04:19PM (#2132242) Journal
    I really wish reviewers would at least include a blurb about 2d performance. I imagine most people spend most of their computer time dealing with text and 2d images. When I'm gaming I certainly want high framerates and all, but not at the expense of crisp text and graphics at 1600x1200. I didn't see a blip about 2d quality in the Anandtech review.

    The first nvidia cards (tnt/tnt2) I used had sucky 2d compared to the matrox cards I had been using. It seems like Matrox card reviews always mention something about 2d, if only because their 3d isn't anything to write home about.
  • Press kit? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by number one duck ( 319827 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @10:46AM (#2133395) Journal
    Wow, I wish my duties included minor plagarism... after all, why write reviews when you can have them handed down from above?

  • They have the worst drivers I've ever dealt with. Want to know why Windows is unstable? NVIDIA, all the time. Want to know why Linux is juas as unstable? NVIDIA, all the time. Their lousy crap-drivers crash constantly. I'm not going to claim ATI is better; I haven't had one of their products for a few years (I replaced my old one with an NVIDIA card because I heard that their drivers are better--big mistake). I just wish that these companies would focus on stability more than on performance. I don't mind taking a 20 fps hit on Quake 3, but I certainly do mind when I'm working on something and my computer crashes because of their incompetent driver team.
  • Truform is neato (Score:2, Redundant)

    by Gnight ( 163400 )
    The Radeon 2 has this cool new feature called truform [].

    It allows a low polygon model to look much more detailed without sacrificing frames per second. See this [] and this [] for an illustration of what truform *could* do.

    It will be very interesting to see what this truform thing can do. Read more about truform here [].

  • by JanneM ( 7445 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @10:43AM (#2142333) Homepage
    I haven't followed ATI for the past couple of years (I've used Nvidia cards). How good are the Linux drivers for current cards, and how much problems have there been with implementing them (specs from ATI, maturity, performance, that sort of thing)?

    What I'm wondering, really, is if we are going to see comprehensive support under Linux in the near future, or if these new cards will be glorified framebuffers for the foreseeable future?

    • The PrecisionInsight DRI drivers for the Radeon boards are great as far as they go -- which is to say they are great for 3D rendering. I've installed them on my Athlon box, and they perform as advertised (once I installed the MMTR bugfix for Linux 2.4.2).

      Unfortunately, for 2D, the free linux drivers are terrible. I get around 13M pixels/sec glDrawPixels performance; while the closed source Xi drivers get ~80M pixels/sec; some 6 times as fast. The problem is that ATi didn't care to fund development of free high-performance 2D; so it didn't get done.

      Perhaps it is surprising to some, but for many if not most visual effects applications, 2D performance is more important than 3D performance.

      At this point, I would not recommend the ATi Radeon for visual effects applications for just this reason; and would recommend the nVidia cards which do have reasonably good free-driver 2D performance. I make this recommendation quite painfully, because I tremendously admire the work that the DRI team has done, it's just spectacular. They started from a clean sheet of paper, and addressed all of the subtle issues involved in doing accelerated graphics in multiple windows, from context switching to security. Unfortunately, it's unclear whether that effort will lead to drivers that take full advantage of the cards. It is really quite sad.


    • by dinivin ( 444905 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @10:49AM (#2144468)

      The Linux drivers (2D & 3D) for the Rage 128 and Radeon are, IMHO, exceptional. Benchmarks with the Rage 128 cards have even given higher framerates under Linux than windows.

      ATI is good about releasing their specs to the XFree86 development team. Though the DRI developers have the specs to implement the TCL features of the Radeon, ATI won't pay for them to work on it, unfortunately.

      There are, however, known issues with using a Radeon on certain VIA motherboards with AMD chips. In many cases, this will cause a complete lockup of your machine... VIA seems to be unwilling to pay the DRI developers to fix this problem, but has hinted that they'll be fixing it themselves.

      • Having just been through an attempt at getting my Rage 128GL based All-in-Wonder working correctly with OpenBSD/Xfree86 on a VIA Apollo based board, I beg to differ. Between that and Win98/VIA DMA drivers/DirectCrash 8, I've been through driver hell. All because I want to drop out of OBSD once in a while and play M$ Train Simulator. (I know...I know... But I just can't kick the habit...)

        I bought an cheesy no-name GeForce2 MX board, and it just worked. Bye bye ATI... Never again.


      • I have Radeon 64 running on VIA KT - something board with Athlon 1.1 Gz ..
        No problems with Windows ( running beta "optimized" drivers")
        and no problems with Linux ( running AcceleratedX 6.0 - extrememly fast )
        Maybe I am just lucky.

  • Drivers and ATI. (Score:3, Informative)

    by malkavian ( 9512 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @10:44AM (#2142334)
    Something that seems to be concensus opinion across the sites is that the card was previewed too early.
    Like most pre-releases, it's nowhere near it's potential, and, if all it as in the past, ATI will have problems getting the most out of the hardware due to this.
    Is it just me, or does it seem like they could get a boost by releasing all the specs and driver details to the open source world?
    For starters, this would make for great driver porting and supporting, and as a side, could help ATI come up with better performance as patches and improvements are fed back to them.

    • Not too early. ATI dropped this at just the right time. That's because these supposedly early, unoptomized, buggy drivers perform at the same benchmark speeds that the final, less buggy but still un-optimized drivers will. Anyone who expects ATI to come out with better drivers later is just setting himself up for disappointment again.
  • Yay! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gingko ( 195226 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @10:47AM (#2143130)
    It is a *very* good thing that NVidia have got some competition. While NVidia are a great company, from my perspective as a developer, the fact that they are coming close to ruling every market unsettles me slightly.

    Radeon I was a bit of a disappointment as far as I could make out, not quite cheap enough to be a budget card but not quite good enough to take on GF2. The 8500 looks to be quite a nice piece of kit, and although I wasn't sure at first, the extended Pixel Shader caps should be very good fun to play with.

    However, the current benchmarks don't put the 8500 far enough ahead of the GF3 for it to be a clear win, especially since the 8500 will be about GBP350 when it arrives, and I can get hold of a GF3 for under GBP250. What matters to ATI is the driver support - they need to get good enough drivers out of the door to put a clear gap between them and the GF3 in terms of performance, and plenty of decent developer relations to emphasise the feature set (although TruForm doesn't excite me at all - look ma! Hardware tesselation *all the time*!). Otherwise, NVidia will release their next part which will trounce the 8500 (don't imagine it's far away), before ATI have had a chance to reclaim their market share.

    I wonder exactly what market ATI are aiming at - will the hardcore gamer market really offer them high enough sales to make a comeback? Or will they target the OEM market, where they used to be king?

    Interesting times.

  • by mystery_bowler ( 472698 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @10:37AM (#2143618) Homepage
    I can't help but wonder how ATI can expect to compete with nVidia on the Windows platform with Microsoft and nVidia working so closely together. But I guess it's good that they give it a shot. Competition is a good thing.

    Besides, what effing difference does it make? Seeing as how even the most detailed games (Quake III, Max Payne, Black & White) are running at 80 FPS, it's obvious that the cards are way ahead of the games. When is there going to be something that takes advantage of all that power and gives us a reason to plunk down $400-$500 of our hard-earned bucks?

    • Actually, ATI and Microsoft collaborated closely on several areas of DirectX 8.1 and even more closely on the as yet unannounced DirectX 9. Some people say MS is a bit PO'ed at nVidia for some reason or another...
    • I can't help but wonder how ATI can expect to compete with nVidia on the Windows platform with Microsoft and nVidia working so closely together.

      It wasn't so long ago that ATI and Microsoft were pretty buddy buddy. That died down quickly enough when ATI lost thier stronghold on the OEM market.

      But don't think Microsoft and ATI don't still talk. NVidia may be the market leader right now -- but ATI still has some fat stacks of cash to drop whenever and wherever they like. NVidia is just one product release from 2nd place again. They know it and they show it; it's all over the face of their agressive marketing.
    • Tribes 2! :)

      I've got a Geforce2 Pro 64MB card with a P3-933 processor & 384MB RAM and Tribes 2 does not run smoothly at 1024x768x32 with all the details turned up in all instances. Sure, indoors with five or six people around or outdoors with 3 or 4 it runs pretty well (40-100 fps depending). But you get 10-12 people mixing it up in a base assault and weapons exploding everywhere and it definitely starts dipping down below 20.
      I've taken to running with a few features turned down here and there in 800x600 and all is well. A faster processor would help a bit too but so would a faster vid card. I'd love to be able to play in 1280x1024 or higher on a 21" monitor and stay above 80fps. I don't know of any current hardware that'll do that. (Let me know if there is ... :) )
    • When is there going to be something that takes advantage of all that power and gives us a reason to plunk down $400-$500 of our hard-earned bucks?

      That will happen when all the companies that have licensed or will license id's DOOM engine release their games. That engine currently brings the GeForce3 to its knees. *drool*
    • it's obvious that the cards are way ahead of the games

      Uh, that's a GOOD THING. I don't know about you, but I certainly don't have an extra US$400 lying around just to spend on a video card for games.
      Didn't you even stop to think that you might have this card for 2 years, and that a whole lot can change between now and then? Like, oh, say, MORE GAMES coming out?

    • I don't know about the Windows platform, but I'm going to ditch this OEM nVidia card as soon as I can. I've just about had it with their shoddy binary-only drivers.
  • Linux support (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ogerman ( 136333 )
    The original Radeon card I have works great in Linux using DRI from XF86 4.1 and kernel 2.4.8. However, even now, there is no hardware T&L support and there are some glitches here and there. So I wonder how much different the Radeon2 DRI driver will have to be. And where is ATI in all of this? I commend ATI for releasing enough specs to the DRI developers to support it, but why haven't they taken an active role in development? It's their hardware. If they want us to use it, they ought to support it fully. Don't they see how big the market is for well supported hardware in Linux? Talk about a way of differentiating your product!

    And no, closed source drivers (ala NVidia) are absolutely not acceptable for a whole multitude of reasons:

    1.) Breaks away from attempts at Linux hardware support standardization. (XFree86, DRI, etc.)
    2.) Puts vendor in total control of compatibility with future dependancies and hardware owners at their mercy.
    3.) Eliminates community feedback and quality control by source examination and review.
    4.) Shows backwards thinking on the part of the vendor. Closed source drivers in no way whatsoever protect their "intellectual property" (if you actually believe in that sort of thing.) Do you really think their competition doesn't have access to disassemblers, decompilers, SET microscopes, etc? Who are they protecting against?
    • Unfortunately, even under Linux, Nvidia has one thing that ATI's cards lack;
      1. A working TV-out _with_ 3D hardware support

      If I'm wrong, please let me know. Right now, I am this '' close to buying 2 Nvidia cards instead of the current Radeon I. Yes, I _really_want_ to support a company that supports free software / open source.

      If I'm wrong, what screen sizes can the Radeon I scale to fit NTSC? 800x600? 1024x768? (GeForce2 cards typically support 800x600, with 1024x768 on most GeForce3's.)

      Is full 3D support enabled on the TV-out?

      • I'm really not sure about TV out support. I've heard rumors that if you use something like 640x480 @ 60Hz. that the TV-out will be enabled, but I can't confirm that. Then I've heard other stuff about using FBDev and somehow getting it to work that way (without using the XF86 Radeon driver.) Along those lines, you also might be interested in this: Basically, it's Radeon DRI functionality without X. If the framebuffer trick works anyhow, you might be able to get 3D on TV-out this way. (Assuming that the Xf86 people haven't indeed implemented Tv-out for Radeon already. Some other ATI cards are supported. I don't see why not.)
        • Thanks. I found roughly the same thing after investigating this fairly hard; ATI cards can provide TV-out only as a frame buffer.

          Unfortunately, fb = no 3D hardware support.

  • I will never buy ATI (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jchristopher ( 198929 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @11:51AM (#2146782)
    Regardless of what great technology ATI comes out with, I have purchased my last ATI product. Why? I own a Dell laptop with an intregrated ATI video chipset.

    Driver support from ATI has been non-existant. Many 3d games and applications do not work under Windows 2000. ATI is aware of the problems, but has no intention of ever fixing them. They seem much more interested in trying to convince the consumer that it's somehow a Dell problem, even though many laptops use the same chipset and suffer the same problems.

    Drivers for WindowsXP or any other OS will likely never be written, nor will the existing drivers ever be updated to work better with OpenGL or future games.

    They fooled me once: so now they've got the last dollar they will ever get from me. I'd buy something with a Trident CyberBlade before I'll give ATI anymore money and I encourage you to do the same.

    Nvidia now has a laptop chipset and I'd prefer to give my money to a company that will actually keep their drivers current. Even the greatest video chipset is worthless without good drivers.

    • ATI doesn't release these drivers to the public, so the only way to get them is through Dell. Whether they have them or not doesn't mean Dell lists them for the laptops. For instance, I have an Inspiron 7000, one of the last before the shift to the 7500. That means mine has the new video chip, a change over luckily made while it was being constructed.

      So, when I want drivers for Windows Me, I only see a beta on Dell's support site. Its awful, and only for w98. Then I look at the 7500 and above, and there they are, my card exactly with new and updated drivers. These work, these actually don't crash my system, and some of these after installed actually boot up the GUI, instead of leaving me with a running system but showing the splash screen.

      Dell had these drivers, just never listed them for my laptop. ATI wont release them to the public, so its a hunt. For 2000 or XP, that will likely be a hard find verses windows 9x, but still exist. Its not entirely ATI's fault, but Dell could do better by keeping driver support alive.

      (Dell has other problems too. My laptop doesn't support Me or 2000 according to them, which is ridiculous since they came out right after. Dell should have been fine with it. To get DVD to work properly, I had to go to the 7500 support page, so I had sound. Dell needs to continue support for their products, not just retire the driver pages the week they rename them. The 7500 is exactly the same as my late edition 7000 from what I can tell.)
  • Only existed in the Rage Pro era!
    I have used a Rage 128 card last year. UT, HL, problem at all. Please give the guys a chance. You can't call a company "makes crap drivers" only because it does not give you more speed with frequent driver releases.

    Meanwhile, some of you will know the quality of some NVidia drivers...they just didn't call them Betas just because of their marketing department.

  • ATI Makes decent cards, but lousy drivers. Never, EVER expect your spiffy new ATI card to work in an OS delivered 6 months from now. Likely it won't.
  • Premature previews? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lythari ( 118242 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @11:13AM (#2157117)
    Anandtech also has a preview of the R8500 & R7500. Anand Lal's final words are fairly interesting:

    First off, although we don't always see things the same way I definitely agree with Tom on his statements that ATI should not have chose to present the Radeon 8500 this soon. Even had NVIDIA not released their Detonator 4 drivers earlier than expected, the Radeon 8500 was in no shape to be evaluated at all. The drivers were buggy and they lacked support for the full Radeon 8500 feature set. Although it's definitely interesting to see what the Radeon 8500 can do, ATI should be very worried that too many of you will get the wrong idea about the product. All I can do is present you with the picture as I see it.

    I for one am glad to see NVidia has some real competition. However, it seems that ATI's driver department is going to let it down again. Although the card hasn't been released yet, I don't have much hope that the drivers will improve very much before the release. I hope that ATI will prove me wrong, in which case a Radeon 8500 may very well be my next purchase.

    • However, it seems that ATI's driver department is going to let it down again.

      Driver 'department'? What driver department? Do you mean that one poor ATI employee that produces some crappy driver update every 3 months, until they announce new hardware, at which time all driver updates stop entirely?

      • To be fair, ATI has released drivers (beta ones anyway, but the same thing can be said for NVIDIA) much more frequently than once every 3 months for their Radeon line.

        Granted, there hasn't been one for nearly a month now, but there were 4 released in June, 5 in May and 2 in April.
  • Hum? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by humming ( 24596 )
    So, another one of the 'our not yet released hardware will kick the ass of the hardware that already has existed for months'.

    So, what makes you think that Nvidia doesn't already have a card that smokes the Radeon? Because there has been no press releases?

    Well, considering that Nvidia is not a stupid company, why would they want to issue a pressrelease that hurts their own sales of the GeForce 3 by promising that they will release a much better card in the near future?

    As soon as the GeForce 3 sales slows down, due to everyone anticipating this new Radeon card, expect a press-release from Nvidia.

  • by Bonker ( 243350 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @11:03AM (#2157256)
    Marketing: For those looking for the sweet spot between price and performance...

    English: You can't afford the card we're reviewing, nerd-boy. Buy this cheaper one instead... Unless of course, you're interested in our exclusive terms. You've got two kidneys, right?

    Marketing: ATI has already revealed extensive details on two of the Radeon 8500's key technologies...

    English: ATI's underpaid hardware engineers are hard at work turning the mad fantasies of marketing types into reality. Results will vary...

    Marketing: It's the Radeon 8500's ability to do many simultaneous texture effects that has led John Carmack to predict that the new Doom graphics engine will perform twice as well on a Radeon 8500 as on a GeForce3.

    English: Please, God, Please let the new id Software titles play on our hardware...

    Marketing: The revised API is set to launch at the time of Windows XP's release in October but may first arrive on the ATI driver disk.

    English: Keep your pants on, Bill. It'll take a few seconds to get lubed up.

    Marketing: For the first time in a PC, the Radeon 8500 will include a component video connector that can connect the card to an HDTV. This component output, which will likely come as an adapter for the DVI-I connector, will make high-quality progressive-scan DVD playback possible on a PC.

    English: Not that you'll actually be able to do any of that. We're not going to cross the MPAA, Hell no!

    Marketing: The performance-enthusiast market makes up only 5 percent of overall graphics sales, so ATI doesn't expect the Radeon 8500 to be a top seller.

    English: Everything we've got is riding on this card, so if you don't buy it, we're going to go bankrupt and be bought out by nVidia.

    Marketing: The Radeon 7500 is designed to be very fast in the current crop of games.

    English: This card will be obsolete and unsupported in six months. Sell a kidney so you can buy the better card.

    Marketing: What the Radeon 7500 lacks in future-proof performance it makes up for in display features.

    English: Six months? We meant three months.

    Marketing: Both the Radeon 8500 and 7500 are priced competitively against Nvidia's GeForce3 and GeForce2 Pro.

    English: You're getting bent over either way, so why not buy from us?

    Marketing: Summary - This is a great card and we reccomend you make this a part of your workstation.

    English: Summary - If we say anything bad, ATI won't let send us any more toys.

  • Tom (Score:2, Insightful)

    by skroz ( 7870 )

    I'm starting to get a bit tired of Tom's preachiness. Throughout his review he menions that the recent release of the Detonator 4 drivers shows a lack of "sportsmanship" on the part of NVidia, and that the timing of the release was inteded to hurt ATI's release of the new chipset.

    You know what, Tom? That's business.

    NVIDIA is out to make money, and just happens to produce a goddamn good product while doing it. NVIDIA released (or is about to release, anyway,) a fully featured upgrade to their product to *gasp* beat out the competition? What horror! What an attrocity! The thing works, it's better, get over it. In the words of Coolio, "If you can't take the heat, get your ass outs the kitchen."

    On the other hand, if Nvidia has been keeping this driver away from the public for an extended period of time for no other reason than to "drop the bomb" on ATI, well... that's quite dispicable, and could be considered harmful to us, the faithful consumers. And by a substantial period of time, I mean a month or more. A few weeks difference is strategy, a few months is downright rude. ;P

    I'm interested in buying the best product for my money, not the little games that ATI and Nvidia play with each other. So I don't want to hear about Tom's personal conspiracy theories and rants. "Here are two cards. This one costs this much, the other one costs this much. This one is better and here's why." Anything else is irrelevant.

Sigmund Freud is alleged to have said that in the last analysis the entire field of psychology may reduce to biological electrochemistry.