Sapphire HD 4670 Ultimate 512MB Passive Video Card Review

by Michael "SKYMTL" Hoenig     |     February 26, 2009

The R700's Features

It seems like in this brave new world of parallel processing capabilities of GPU cores, both ATI and Nvidia are racing to take advantage of the potential the modern graphics card has locked away within its confines. What we will soon see is a massive increase in the performance of certain applications like video transcoding, Folding and physics calculations. ATI has been on this bandwagon for some time now with their Folding @ home application which first came out for X19xx-series graphics cards, made the jump to the R600 / RV670 cores a few months ago and will soon be move over to the new HD4800 / HD4600-series as well. With their massive number of stream processors, the R700 cards should be able to handle any application thrown at them. Letís take a look at what ATI has to offer with additional features.

DirectX 10.1

Even though DX10.1 is a minor update to the Vista-exclusive DX10, ATI feels that its implementation will benefit gamers quite a bit in todayís market. Letís cut right to the chase: DX10.1 doesnít offer us anything particularly new in terms of outlandishly new features but it does offer new paths for developers to simplify their code which in turn has the potential to increase performance in certain areas. At present, among the ďbig twoĒ graphics processor manufacturers, ATI is the only one which supports DX10.1

Even though we run the risk of editorializing here we have to say that ATIís acceptance of the DX10.1 API seems to be the right thing to do in todayís graphics card industry. After seeing first-hand the performance benefits it brings when applying AA to a DX10 environment in games like Assassinís Creed we can only express disappointment and outright shock that other GPU manufacturers havenít followed ATIís lead. Consumers have been left high and dry without any reason to purchase an OS with DX10 for the simple fact that the performance in impact of DX10 is does not justify minor graphical benefits. DX10.1 works to alleviate those performance hurdles by offering developers more options when producing their games. We can only hope that ATIís present generation cards become widespread enough that more game developers will implement DX10.1 into their titles.

Crossfire X

Up until the HD2900-series was introduced, running more than one ATI card was a clumsy affair which included external cables and more headache than should have been necessary. Then they introduced their very own Crossfire bridge connector and it was all sunshine and roses since daisy chaining two, three or even four cards together became possible. This technology continues today with the HD4000-series cards and AMD has promised that users will get better drivers, quick driver revisions and better industry acceptance among game developers.

PowerPlay Technology

In ATIís never-ending quest to offer us the most power savings possible they have introduced something called PowerPlay. This technology allows the Catalyst software to dynamically adjust voltages and core speeds depending on the application it is being used for. This results in less idle power consumption and power being distributed when and where you need it.

Havok Physics

When AMD and Havok announced their partnership to optimize the Havok physics engine to run on ATI hardware, many enthusiasts perked up and listened. Havok Physics has been implemented into a vast variety of games form every single genre the vast majority of the industryís upcoming blockbuster titles (including Starcraft II) support it. This not only gives ATIís physics push a massive installed user base but it also guarantees that there will be games with Havok released for years to come. With both ATI and Nvidia firmly entrenched in the war to bring physics processing to a wider market acceptance, we may look back at this point in time as the moment when the renaissance of in-game physics really began.

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