MOBILITY RADEON 9800 chip
Thanks to recent advances in mobile graphics, namely the unveiling of DX9 chips such as ATI’s MOBILITY RADEON 9600/9700 and NVIDIA’s GeForce FX Go 5700, gaming on the go has never been better. Blockbuster titles such as Call of Duty, Unreal Tournament 2004, and Splinter Cell run quite fluidly on today’s high-end, and even many mid-range notebooks, leaving smiles on the faces of many gamers stuck in waiting rooms, or worse yet, enduring a grueling 3 or 4 hour layover at the airport.
There are a few compromises that a gamer must make in order to ensure fluid frame rates with these mobile chips however. For instance, many desktop replacement notebooks ship with high-end displays with native resolutions of 1600x1200, or in the case of the Dell Inspiron XPS, a whopping 1920x1200! These resolutions are simply too high for today’s mobile graphics parts, they just don’t have the memory bandwidth to keep the graphics core fed with data, resulting in sluggish performance.
Other eye candy features such as anti-aliasing and to a lesser extent, anisotropic filtering also put too much of a burden on today’s mobile offerings. Frame rates often drop into single digits at high resolutions with these features turned on. The “game” that you were playing at low resolutions just a few minutes ago literally turns into a slideshow instead. This is hardly an enjoyable experience.
Complicating matters is the increasing complexity of today’s games. Whereas a year ago we were scrambling to find a game that would take advantage of the 256MB of memory many desktop graphics cards were shipping with, we’ve now run into cases where 256MB can play a huge role in Call of Duty (with texture quality cranked up to “extra”) and Far Cry (under “very high” quality mode). And with the imminent release of high-end titles such as Doom 3 and Half-Life 2 (and the games based on those engines), the situation will only get worse. Quite simply, today’s mobile chips will soon begin to really show signs of age.
With this paradigm shift in gaming right around the corner, ATI’s mobile team realized that an equally radical mobile graphics solution would be required for these software titles. Therefore, a new mobile category was created: the desknote.
For desknote systems, ATI and notebook designers have established larger power budgets to play with, allowing them to integrate more powerful components in their notebook designs than they could have under more traditional guidelines for desktop replacement systems. As any RADEON 9800 or GeForce 5900 Ultra owner can tell you, these components tend to run hotter and consume more power than lesser graphics cards.
Desknote systems are also designed with more effective cooling systems in order to ensure an optimal thermal environment. Dell’s Inspiron XPS is a perfect example of this. The notebook we tested last week shipped with a 3.4GHz Pentium 4 processor, 2GB of DDR400 RAM, a 7200 RPM hard drive, and MOBILITY RADEON 9700 graphics, yet it barely got warm to the touch, even after extended gaming sessions.
With new guidelines in place, and a new philosophy from OEMs targeting gamers as a key customer, ATI set out to change all the rules once again when it comes to mobile graphics performance. The result? ATI’s MOBILITY RADEON 9800!