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ATI unveils Radeon 8500, 7500

Not Radeon 2, Radeon 2VE after all...

Updated ATI didn't surprise anyone by announcing its latest generation of graphics card today, but it did astound almost everyone by not calling the new products Radeon 2.

The new cards, based on ATI's R200 and RV200 graphics chips, will be called the Radeon 8500 and Radeon 7500, respectively.

As expected from the various leaks ATI has sprung over the last three or four months, the Radeon 8500 brings programmable pixel and vertex shaders - together known as Smartshader technology - to the Radeon family, along with ATI's n-patch system, Truform. Smartshader ties in with the latest update to DirectX 8, release 8.1.

The new chip's clock speed is 250MHz, as anticipated, while the memory clocks in at 275MHz, according to ATI.

The 8500 will ship with 64MB of DDR SDRAM in September and offer digital LCD, video output and dual-monitor support alongside DVD playback, all as expected. What's new is the price: $399, putting it right up alongside Nvidia's GeForce 3.

The RV200-based Radeon 7500 will also ship with 64MB of DDR SDRAM, also in September, and with all of the above display options for $199. Unlike the 8500, the 7500 is based on previous Radeon technology so only provides a DirectX 7 level of functionality. The 7500 maintains just two rendering pipelines, compared to the 8500's four.

ATI also extended the FireGL workstation-oriented graphics card family it bought off SonicBlue earlier this year with an R200-based board, the FireGL 8800. Previous FireGL boards were based on the company's own FireGL processor, developed by IBM. The new Radeon-based boards is a clear sign ATI wants to utilise its own technology, as we predicted.

ATI calls the FireGL's chip the Radeon 8800. That suggests it's more than the regular R200, which drives the Radeon 8500. We wonder if it's the dual-R200 rig ATI has been known to be working on from its own roadmap. The FireGL 8800 will also ship with 64MB of DDR SDRAM, in October. ®

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