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ATI Mobility Radeon 9000
Written by Spode (29/Aug/02)
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Laptops have notoriously been almost a generation behind desktop machines when it comes to performance, but for what laptops have usually be designated for (business use), this hasn't been a huge issue. But fif you are a hardcore gamer, a computer with a low frame rate can make you lose that edge that you need in a competitive situation such as you might find at a LAN party.

So until now the only solution for your LAN parties is too drag your desktop computer along or suffer the consequences of a slow laptop. Oh how gamers longed for the days of carrying in just one bag and being ready to go. Thanks to the ATI Mobility Radeon 9000, this is finally a possibility.

As you can see on my right, for what the chip does, it is pretty small. The ATI spokesperson was holding it up and at my guess was around an inch squared. What impressed me was that integrated into this chip, (as you can see on the furthest left part of the picture) was 64mb of 128-bit DDR memory clocking in at 230mhz. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realise thats some pretty good memory bandwidth and certainly not far behind from the industries latest offerings. The core was running at 250mhz.

So what else does this chip offer appart from obvious speed advances? How about full support for DirectX 8.1, being the first mobile GPU to support pixel and vertex shaders. How about also being the first mobile GPU to be based on a quad-pipe architecture? The point is, this chip is fast - even by desktop standards. On the ECS laptop I used it felt like I was playing it on a desktop machine just with an LCD display (which are getting more and more common). Although I don't have any benchmarks to show you today (due to losing the peice of paper I had it written down on :S), you can pretty much gaurantee that it's going to be on par with the Desktop 9000 cards ATI recently released. On the spec sheets, they are very similar.

A couple of things that caught my attention with this chip was their FULLSTREAM(tm) technology which is designed to "de-block" low quality MPEG's - and from the video we saw, it did!

The other thing that was interesting was an advancement over current power management systems was POWERPLAY(tm), which allows a set of battery profiles for your GPU, so if you start running low on batteries it will downclock itself allowing you to carry on using the machine for that little extra longer to finish that important document, or deathmatch :D

All in all, I think John Carmack summed it up best when he said:

"The M9 laptop parts allows the current generation of games to be run at their absolute highest fidelity settiings and it's capable of running the coming generation of games."

All I can say is, waiting on delayed london trains never felt so good :)

Copyright Andrew Miller
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