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Digital-Daily : Video : gecube_radeon_9550_pe

GeCube Radeon 9550 Platinum Edition

Date: 13.08.2004

By: Aleksey Burdyko

GeCube Radeon 9550
Platinum Edition
VPU chip RV350
Memory Etrontech 3.3 ns
Frequencies 400MHz/500MHz
Category: Low-End
Price: $100 (July 2004)
Check the prices for Radeon 9550

While ATI flagships are setting up new records in 3DMark's squeezing out more and more FPS, and users concerned by the idea of re-making ATI Radeon X800 Pro into X800 XT are soldering the few in numbers "Pro" specimen, we can see some restructuring in the product line of ATI chips.

It was funny to hear of DirectX 9.0 integration into Low-End solutions, when ATI itself in presentations showed the "forgedness" of DirectX 9.0 in NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 chips with their tiny speed at DirectX 9.0 applications. That time we made our conclusions regarding the NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 chip which was then opposed by ATI Radeon 9200. The operation speed in DirectX 9.0 was indeed tiny, which prevented the NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 chip from taking a place of dignity under the sun. ATI then refused to introduce DirectX 9.0 into the low-end sector.

Currently in ATI's roadmap we can see a chip like ATI Radeon 9550 intended to bring the niceties of DirectX 9.0 into the gloomy reign of Low-End. The "9550" index points to the evident kinship to the ATI Radeon 9600 chip which is confirmed in the reality: ATI Radeon 9550 is the screening of ATI Radeon 9600 at frequencies.

We don't find ATI's decision on introducing DirectX 9.0 into the Low-end sector, because it won't cost anything to the company =). The rate of screening at frequency is very high - the company grudges dumping chips like these especially when it's all fine with the rendering pipelines. So, why not use them in less demanding solutions? People in offices also feel like looking at Far Cry out of the corner of the eyes - while the boss is away =).

ATI does not wait for too long and produces the ATI Radeon 9550 chip that offers reduced frequencies (250 MHz versus 325 MHz in ATI Radeon 9600) with the same memory frequency (200 MHz (400 DDR)). At that, the distinctions from ATI Radeon 9600 are over and there starts an intensive search for competitors in NVIDIA roadmap for this ATI solution.

NVIDIA was long ago able to introduce so many varied solutions to the Low-End sector that some are already getting confused in this variety for the low-end pricing sector of the market. They are variations of NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 aimed originally at the Low-End, as well as NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 frequency screenings degraded to the low-end sector - e.g. today's NVIDIA GeForce FX5600XT. Therefore, potentially ATI Radeon 9550 may come across the following rivals in the low-end pricing sector:

  • NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 128-bit
  • NVIDIA GeForce FX5600XT 128-bit
  • NVIDIA GeForce FX5500 128-bit

Of the similarly positioned ATI boards, we can distinguish only one board close to the performance and the prices recommended for ATI Radeon 9550:

  • ATI Radeon 9200 128-bit

It's just this board that from the time immemorial has been presented by ATI on the Low-End market, as well as stood for ATI's positions in that slow DirectX 9.0 is NO LONGER DirectX 9.0 and there is no need in it. Now ATI seems to adhere to a different opinion, and introduction of DirectX 9.0 into the low price segment is an evident confirmation. How successful is it going to be? Knowing the potentials of ATI cards at existing DirectX 9.0 applications, we are optimistic about the new ATI product. But let's take a closer look at it.

Today we are reviewing the GeCube solution, a brand of growing popularity. Solutions marked as "Extreme" on the box normally promise something pleasant made by GeCube. Below we can get an idea of the current line of video cards by this brand:

Radeon X800 series

  • Gecube Radeon X800 PRO

Radeon X300 PCI Express

  • Radeon X300LP 128M PCI Express x16
  • Radeon X300 128M PCI Express

Radeon X600 PCI Express

  • Radeon X600XT 128MB XTreme Edition
  • Radeon X600 128MB CRT/DVI/TV

Radeon X800 PCI Express

  • R800XT-D3 256M DDR3 PCI Express Graphics

Radeon 9800XT

  • R9800PRO- R360 Platinum Edition
  • GC-98XT 256MB Encore Series
  • GC-R98XT 256MB

Radeon 9550

  • GC-R9550GU 128MB Extreme series
  • GC-R9550L-C3 128MB
  • Radeon 9550 128MB Platinum Edition
  • GC-R9550-C3 128MB

Radeon 9800

  • GC-R9800PRO 128M / 256MB

Radeon 9600 PRO

  • GC-R96P-C3H/D3H 128MB/256MB
  • Radeon 9600 PRO Extreme Series
  • GC-R9600PRO 128MB / 256MB / VIVO

Radeon 9600XT

  • GC-R96XTLD-C4 Triple-Display
  • GC-R96XTGU Xtreme series
  • GC-96XT Encore Series
  • GC-R96XTG V2 Series

Radeon 9600

  • GC-R9600 128M/256M

Radeon 9600SE

  • Radeon 9600SE 128MB Xtreme Edition
  • Radeon 9600SE 128MB

Radeon 9200

  • GC-R9200SE 64M/128M
  • GC-R9200 128M/256M/VIVO


  • ALL-IN-WONDER 9600XT 128M / TV / FM
  • ALL-IN-WONDER 9200SE 128MB / TV Tuner
  • ALL-IN-WONDER 9800PRO 128M/TV-Tuner/Remote
  • ALL-IN-WONDER 9600PRO 128M / TV / FM

Although the main models are presented, the incomplete product line for some chips is annoying. In particular, there is no higher-end model on the base of ATI R420 chip - ATI Radeon X800 XT.

ATI Radeon 9550 Chip

It doesn't make sense expecting something out of the ordinary from the ATI Radeon 9550 chip. After announcement and established production of new solutions on the base of ATI Radeon X800, it is too costly to introduce any radical changes to the old solutions. But at some time NVIDIA decided to put forward something interesting in terms of the architecture for the Middle-end sector with its NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 Ultra. Today's card in question is a specimen screened for the frequencies, which was quite predictable.

Video cards ATI Radeon 9550 ATI Radeon 9600 ATI Radeon 9200 NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600XT
Code name RV350 RV360 RV280 NV34 NV31
Chip technology 256 bit 256 bit 256 bit 256 bit 256 bit
Process technology 0.13 mk 0.13 mk 0.13 mk 0.13 mk 0.13 mk
Q-ty of transistors ~75 mln ~75 mln ~36 mln ~47 mln ~75 mln
Memory bus 128 bit (DDR I) 128 bit (DDR I) 128 bit (DDR I) 128 bit (DDR I)/64 bit (DDR I) 128 bit (DDR I)
AGP bus 1x/2x/4x/8x 1x/2x/4x/8x 1x/2x/4x/8x 1x/2x/4x/8x 1x/2x/4x/8x
Memory 128/256 MB 128/256 MB 128/256 MB 128/256 MB 128/256 MB
Chip clock speed 250 MHz 325 MHz 250 MHz 250 MHz 250 MHz
Memory speed 200 MHz (400 DDR) 200 MHz (400 DDR) 200 MHz (400 DDR) 200 MHz (400 DDR) 200 MHz (400 DDR)
Q-ty of Vertex Pipelines 2 2 2 2 2
Pixel pipelines 4 4 4 4(2) 4
Textures per pipeline 1 1 1 1(2) 1
Vertex shader version 2.0 2.0 1.1/1.4 2.0+ 2.0
Pixel shader version 2.0 2.0 1.1/1.4 2.0+ 2.0
DirectX version 9.0 9.0 8.1 9.0 9.0
Special features Integrated TV-coder; FullStream Adaptive filtering Integrated TV-coder; FullStream Adaptive filtering Integrated TV-coder; FullStream Adaptive filtering Integrated TV-coder; FullStream Adaptive Filtering, DirectX 9+ Integrated TV-coder; FullStream Adaptive Filtering, DirectX 9+
Bits per color channel 10 10 10 10 10
External RAMDACs - - - - -
Integrated RAMDAC 2 x 400 MHz 2 x 400 MHz 2 x 400 MHz 2 x 400 MHz 2 x 400 MHz
Q-ty of monitor outputs 2 2 2 2 2
Memory optimization Hyper Z III+ Hyper Z III+ IntelliSample HCT IntelliSample HCT IntelliSample HCT
General optimizations SmartShader 2.0
SmoothVision 2.1
SmartShader 2.0
SmoothVision 2.1
CineFX 2.0
IntelliSample HCT
CineFX 2.0
IntelliSample HCT
CineFX 2.0
IntelliSample HCT
Antialiasing modes Multisampling Maximum 6x Multisampling Maximum 6x Multisampling Maximum 4x
Mixed modes Maximum 8x
Multisampling Maximum 4x
Mixed modes Maximum 8x
Multisampling Maximum 4x
Mixed modes Maximum 8x
Anisotropic filtering 2/4/8/16x 2/4/8/16x 2/4/8x 2/4/8x 2/4/8x

Therefore, the differences between ATI Radeon 9600 and our today's specimen - ATI Radeon 9550 - are only in the clock speeds of the graphic processor. As compared to ATI Radeon 9600, the frequencies have been essentially reduced - 250 MHz in ATI Radeon 9550 versus 325 MHz in ATI Radeon 9600. The memory bus width is unchanged, however, as the sad experience shows, this parameter is "cured" very easily by board manufacturers. We wouldn't be surprised if soon we see boards on the base of the ATI Radeon 9550 chip with the memory bus width cut down to 64 bit in the price lists of computer companies.


  • Introduction
  • GeCube Radeon 9550 Platinum Edition
  • Test configuration, overclocking
  • Tests
  • Final Words

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