Today AMD finally released a competitor to NVIDIA’s GeForce 8800 family, ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT (formerly known by its codename, R600). We will take a look at the performance of this new release by AMD and compare it to other video cards.

ATI Radeon HD 2900 XTFigure 1: ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT.

The new ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT runs at 740 MHz and accesses its 512 MB GDDR3 memory at 1.65 GHz (825 MHz x 2), using a new 512-bit memory interface, with boosts the memory maximum theoretical transfer rate to 105.6 GB/s – Radeon X1950 XTX has a memory maximum transfer rate of 64 GB/s and GeForce 8800 GTX, of 86.4 GB/s, but the new GeForce 8800 Ultra reaches 103.6 GB/s.

Since it is based on Shader 4.0 (DirectX 10), this video card uses a unified shader processing architecture, i.e., instead of having separated units for processing pixel shader, vertex shader, physics and geometry, it has several generic units, called “stream processors”. This model has 320 processing units, against 128 on GeForce 8800 GTX and Ultra.

There are several other new features on this new video card, like the new generation of Avivo – 2D-enhancement technology –, dubbed Avivo HD, now capable of decoding HD-DVD and Blu-Ray discs directly on the GPU and thus freeing up the CPU from this task, and the use of 128-bit High Dynamic Range (HDR), against 64-bit on the previous ATI generation. We’ve written a full article explaining the architecture of this new video card and we recommend you to read this article to complement the present review.

For a full comparison between ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT and competing chips from NVIDIA, please read our tutorial NVIDIA Chips Comparison Table.

On Figures 2 and 3 you can see the reviewed card from AMD, which is a reference model. When a high-end video card is released, AMD (or NVIDIA) manufactures the cards (actually the cards are manufactured by an Asian manufacturer contracted by them) and then sells them to their partners, the video card manufacturers, which add their sticker, changed the BIOS with their settings, add their cables and CDs and put everything into their box. In this case, the cards provided by different manufacturers are exactly the same. This is the case with Radeon HD 2900 XT, at least right now.

ATI Radeon HD 2900 XTFigure 2: ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT.

ATI Radeon HD 2900 XTFigure 3: ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT, back view.


Gabriel Torres is a Brazilian best-selling ICT expert, with 24 books published. He started his online career in 1996, when he launched Clube do Hardware, which is one of the oldest and largest websites about technology in Brazil. He created Hardware Secrets in 1999 to expand his knowledge outside his home country.