|Product : ||Radeon 9600 Atlantis & 9600 Atlantis Pro Fireblade Edition Review|
|Company : ||Sapphire|
|Author : ||Mark 'Ratchet' Thorne|
|Date : ||June 16th, 2003|
When rumors started surfacing last spring about ATIs upcoming R300 chipset, many people believed that it would be almost impossible to deliver such a massive core built on a .15µ manufacturing process while, at the same time, having it running at competitive clock speeds. Since then we've seen that not only has ATI been able to deliver exactly that, through refinements, they've even managed to get the clockspeeds up even higher.
You can only go so fast with such a large and complex core though, and ATI knew they'd have to make the jump to smaller and more efficient .13µ manufactured cores. Rather than try and make the huge leap of transferring one of their larger and more complex designs to a .13µ process, they chose instead to design an entirely new and less complex core for the mainstream and value segments -- sort of using it as a testbed to get familiar with the challenges of designing for .13µ. Today I'll take a look at two retail products provided by Sapphire based on the results of ATI's first transistion to .13µ.
FireBlade Special Edition
Sapphire has been around a while now in the retail market and has grown to be a respected and reliable name. Being one of the first companies out of the gate with cards based on the 9600 core hints at the close relationship Sapphire has with ATI, and with the Atlantis 9600 and Atlantis 9600 Pro "Fireblade" Special Edition, Sapphire continues to offer a complete range of retail cards based on every ATI graphics core. Both the 9600 and the 9600 Pro support DirectX9 and AGP 8x, and both come in relatively compact single slot solutions. The 9600 Pro only needs a very small heatsink/fan to keep it cool while the 9600, because it runs slower than the 9600 Pro, runs cool enough that it only needs a regular heatsink with no fan at all.
Both cards come with the now apparently standard VGA/S-Video/DVI-I connectors for doing TV-Out and dual-display, as well as all the connectors and cables you'd need for that. Included in both retail boxes are copies of PowerDVD 4.0, a driver CD, and Redline - Sapphire's custom tweaking utility. Also included in the 9600 Pro retail bundle is a full copy of the game Soldier of Fortune II - an unexpected bonus.