The new 3D performance king: ATI's Radeon

ATI picked today to unveil their new Radeon graphics cards, and the web-borne reviews are already out in force. Word is that Radeon cards are already shipping, so they should be available soon. You can have a look at reviews here: Judging by the benchmarks, the Radeon looks very good. However, I have a beef with the way things are unfolding here. The new ATI chip seems to be getting a reputation for being just a bit slower than the GeForce 2. That's not really fair at all, in my book.

All the reviews show the ATI beating the GF2 in 32-bit color, but not in 16-bit color. Why? The GF2 has more rendering pipelines, but the ATI is more efficient with memory bandwidth because of better Z-buffer management.

Oddly, most reviews seem to conclude the ATI is a bit slower overall, since the 16-bit color scores are lower. The FiringSquad ran more tests in 16-bits than in 32, then actually said the GF2 was faster "in a majority of our tests". Anand does an OK job, but he still has graphs with 16 and 32-bit color grouped together, with the sort order on the 16-bit color results.

So the ATI wins in every important performance test (i.e., who gives a rip about 16-bits?), but the GF2 comes out looking faster. Reader beware.

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