The latest heavy hitter in the 3D graphics accelerator wars is the Fire GL X1 from ATI Technologies. The new card is based on ATI's Radeon 9700 Visual Processing Unit (VPU) and delivers fully programmable floating-point architecture in both OpenGL 2.0 and DirectX 9—the first such card, according to ATI, to do so.
The card is also the first in the industry to offer eight parallel rendering pipelines, which are designed to provide digital content creators with the ability to preview finished scenes in real time. The Fire GL X1 is also engineered to offload complex data calculations from the CPU, therefore freeing the workstation to perform other production tasks.
Besides the ability to generate real-time photorealistic renderings, the new card offers unlimited color range beyond 16.7 million colors, error-free and lossless multipassing, and fully programmable architecture. The Fire GL also features dual integrated display controllers with dual monitor support, and quad-buffered stereo graphics support that enables stereographic display. The price of the card is $995. —Jenny Donelan