iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






A Journey Across the Ocean: Shaders and R420
(A Photo Report for the Chronicle)

"The land's the same, both here and there,
Despite the ocean that's between us..."

(from a Russian song)


  1. April, 14: ATI forum
  2. April, 15: ATI forum

April, 14: ATI forum

The forum was held in a spacious conference hall at the Park Hyatt hotel. The hall was equipped with six screens upon which visual materials were projected. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a central seat, so all the photos were taken from a side spot.

(The photo in 800x600)

Chris Evenden, Head of ATI marketing sector was the first to take the word, and he was also the host of the forum.

(The photo in 800x600)

Then Rick Bergman, ATI senior vice-president on desktop marketing made a speech.

(The photo in 800x600)

His report concerned the actual situation in ATI. He unveiled some of the company's plans and demonstrated R420's general readings. As you can see below, the company is not afraid of its rival's new product (NVIDIA NV40) and shows diagrams with R420's high performance. Of course, they keep silent about the fact that NV40 has shaders 3.0, while ATI's product doesn't. And when asked about that, the company's officials claim that there's yet no need of this technology so why expend transistors, dies, and human resources on it. For more details, read our interview with ATI's leading officials.

(The photo in 800x600)

(The photo in 800x600)

The report was followed by Bob Drebin's speech about R420's arcitectural features. I won't dwell on it as you can read all about it in our review.

(The photo in 800x600)

(The photo in 800x600)

Then, after a short break, Andy (Andrew) Thompson made a speech that started the big issue of the importance of using shaders.

(The photo in 800x600)
This serial report was taken up by developers of Electronic Arts and Lionhead Studios. First, Steve Andersson, the vice-president for EA took the floor.

(The photo in 800x600)

(The photo in 800x600)

(The photo in 800x600)

He said a lot about the profit of using ATI products in his company's developments, about a full DX9 support, etc. Of course, there was a market context in every speech, and everyone understood that. Steve finished his report by demonstrating a demo (6MB) of a future game.

Tim Rance, one of Lionhead Studios executives spoke about the company's future project, Black & White-2, and also dwelled on some technological features of R420 that appealled to the company. His preview of a new game was accompanied (3MB) by three (3MB) demos (4.8MB).

(The photo in 800x600)

(The photo in 800x600)

(The photo in 800x600)

(The photo in 800x600)

It was also interesting to look at animation tools especially those that help create such complex (3MB) matters as mimics.

The next copious report by Raja Koduri dealt with 3Dc, the new compression method.

(The photo in 800x600)

You can read our R420 review for more details. The speech was accompanied by a demonstration of the technology in the developing game (8MB) Serious Sam - 2 (8MB).

All the speakers answered multiple questions before the dinner break.

(The photo in 800x600)

After the break, the forum resumed. Greg Ellis spoke about objective measurements of 3D accelerators' performance.

(The photo in 800x600)

His report was accompanied by a demo from Lord of the Rings - Return of the King

(The photo in 800x600)

He showed a classification of games concerning benchmark suitability and then touched upon game bottlenecks, such as limitation by CPU frequency, geometrical engine, set of shaders, etc. The slides below show examples of each of the cases citing even the games that could be referred to this or that bottleneck.

(The photo in 800x600)

(The photo in 800x600)

Then an Intel official spoke about PCI-Express, and the first day was closed by the report of TSMC vice-president who said a lot of interesting things about his company, a famous semi-conductor giant.

(The photo in 800x600)

(The photo in 800x600)

[ Next part (April, 15) ]


Those interested in my personal impressions of the journey and its entertainment aspect can click here.

Andrey Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com)


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