ATI ships Radeon VE
Budget chipset with multi-monitor support hits the market
ATI have shipped the first models in their Radeon "VE" range to retail in Europe, the company announced in a press release yesterday. The VE range, which will compete directly with the nVidia GeForce 2 MX range, includes two integrated DACs and CRT controllers, integrated support for DVI (Digital Flat Panel) resolutions up to 1600 x 1200 and integrated TV-Out. The new Radeon VE graphics processor is a smaller scale version of the full-blown Radeon, but with only one rendering pipeline instead of two. Costing less to produce, the Radeon VE also paves the way for ATI's new HydraVision multi-monitor support, which is a pretty similar technology to Matrox's Dual-Head and nVidia's TwinView. It supports traditional CRT monitors, flat panel displays and TVs, allowing users to maximise their desktop space by using two monitors simultaneously. This feature has been enormously popular on other cards, and the visual quality and performance of the Radeon VE should help to endear it to hardware nuts and the average consumer alike. Another feature that ships with the Radeon VE is "MultiDesk". Similar to the Linux KDE2.0, it allows users to control up to nine separate desktop "configurations". In other words, virtual desktops upon which to arrange icons, windows and such. In this sense, you're not just multi-tasking, you're multi-desking, hence the name. You can set applications to automatically open on whichever desk you choose and so on, making it a pretty versatile feature. Elsewhere, the Radeon VE also includes ATI's industry-leading DVD playback. We're not just quoting a press release here either - the DVD playback on the Radeon line has been second to none, speaking from experience. Whatever ATI's "Video Immersion" software actually does, it does it very well. The software features motion compensation amongst other things, and even includes perfect multi-tasking during DVD playback. Having tested this on even the lowliest of PCs, we can confirm that it does exactly as it says on the box. The built-in MPEG2 decoding takes the strain off your processor too, making the Radeon VE the perfect card for that PIII-450 that's you have been suffering along with since the summer before last. As with all Radeon cards, the GPU also features ATI's HyperZ technology. Although unproven in its effectiveness, the theory goes that every 3D scene that has to be displayed has a number of areas that you cannot see. On older cards, these were rendered anyway, but with HyperZ, only the pixels in view are accepted and rendered. HyperZ also deals with the Z Buffer (the third dimension, so to speak) in a different way too, by compressing it to improve speed, and flushing its contents quickly to keep throughput going. Lastly, 16, 32 and 64Mb versions are being made available. At the time of writing, industry favourite Dabs.com lists the 32Mb Radeon VE in OEM and Retail packagings at £63 and £72 ex VAT respectively. In the past, Radeons shipping as retail boxed units have included faster memory, so bear that in mind.