The ATI R6xx And What It Means To Us
The R600 is late, very late. The only ones not admitting that are AMD and ATI. It's a repeat of the delays that plagued the R5XX. By missing ATI's own time-to-market schedule, it not ony screwed up upgrade plans for many users, it also gave NVIDIA the opportunity to consolidate their position as the only graphics chip company with a DirectX 10 GPU.
Despite the best efforts of the spindoctors at AMD-ATI, the fact remains that at the end of the day, the longer a chip takes to arrive in the market, the less of an asset it becomes. and the more time it gives the enemy (in this case, NVIDIA) to dig in and secure their market position.
Okay, so what's the outlook for AMD-ATI right now? It isn't pretty. Right now, they are
- Getting their market shares pounded into the dirt
- Piling up their debts
- Posting higher than expected losses
- Taking a really long time with Barcelona
- Getting owned by Intel's Core 2 processors
When it's launched this May 14th, the R600 had better be good, or things will not bode well for Dave Orton and his boys.
Although this may seem to be the start of some mindless bashing of AMD and ATI, please don't judge me so harshly just yet. This article is not about how AMD and ATI screwed up. It's about what the R600 means to us, the average computer enthusiast; and what will the VPU affect AMD-ATI's future? With the launch fast approaching, it would be good to look at what ATI fans can look forward to in the R600.
A More Media-Centric Approach
I've always told AV fans out there that HDMI without the audio channel is pretty much worthless. Not to mention it takes up a spot that could have been used for another DVI connector which I sure use on a far more regular basis. Since you can practically purchase the converter dongle for around $50 and get a pair of 3.5mm stereo-to-dual RCA jacks for the audio output, HDMI is particularly useless when it comes to graphics cards.
But ATI decides differently, and sticks an audio controller into the R600. So HDMI doesn't look as useless as it seemed earlier. So, what does this mean to us?
Well, a graphics card that allows for use of a industry-standard media interconnect certainly bodes well for those of us that would love to integrate our rigs with our home theater system. Instead of using dedicated HD players, ATI wants us to think of a PC-centric approach. In my view, this implementation which is based upon the ATI AVIVO technology is the icing on the cake that is the R600.
Of course, AVIVO itself has improved from the old days of just MPEG acceleration and basic image enhancement. AVIVO has moved on to motion detection, cadence detection, sharpening and more, even adding H.264 acceleration recently. Now, the advent of AVIVO HD brings with it VC-1 codec (used by both Bluray and HD-DVD) acceleration and power adaptive scaling. I'm sure NVIDIA isn't resting on their laurels, but AVIVO HD's specifications are pretty impressive to say the least.
In addition, ATI has added in superior extended HD support. Graphics cards based on NVIDIA's G80 GPU lose HDCP support with displays greater than 1080i. What this essentially means is that people with 30" monitors cannot enjoy HD content at resolutions higher than 1920x1080. Now, isn't that a crying shame?
Whether this is part of AMD's LIVE initiative or not, I wouldn't know. But to be dreadfully honest, AMD's commitment to pushing a more unified home entertainment system is one that I really appreciate. I'm sure most ATI fans out there appreciate that too. Now, if we can just get AMD to drop their bloated and buggy drivers, the R600 would be perfect.
What Does This Mean To Us?
- Better media capabilities
- Better image quality
- More acceleration
- Better connectivity