Viewfinder supports Radeon graphics chipsetBy Chris Williams. Published: 3rd Sep 2003, 16:09:36 | Permalink | Printable
7500 and 7000 cards dealt and playedWindfall Engineering have announced that the Viewfinder graphics card for RiscPCs and A7000s now supports the ATI Radeon chipset. A Viewfinder card works by interfacing with standard AGP graphics cards and fits into the podule bus to replace the onboard Acorn video chipset.
New Viewfinder cards will be fitted with either a Radeon 7500 or a Radeon 7000 card and existing Viewfinder users can upgrade to the newly supported cards too. Also, Windfall won't allow Viewfinder users to do a DIY upgrade, so presumably the card will have to be sent to Windfall for the upgrade.
The Radeon 7000 features 64MB of video memory and TV out capability. The Radeon 7500 has 128MB of video memory, TV out capability and second display support via a DVI connector. The TV out capability is reportedly working and supports resolutions of up to 1024x768 however the support for a second display output is still in development. When finished, it would allow users to view their desktop over two monitors.
The Radeon 7500's video memory and TV out capability puts the card ahead of the Iyonix's Nvidia GeForce2MX, however the Viewfinder card is somewhat strangled by the Acorn podule bus whereas the Iyonix has a much greater I/O bandwidth. According to Windfall's John Kortink, the Radeon chipset equals or slightly exceeds the acceleration performance and screen resolutions found in the Rage 128 Pro cards. The increased video memory would also allows more images to be cached on the card which serves to speed up rendering.
The RiscPC celebrates its 10th birthday next year and despite its age, hardware upgrades like the Viewfinder certainly help to breathe life into the architecture and ease the pain of relying on the Acorn era chipset. However, you can stretch a RiscPC only so much before it starts to melt. Is the Acorn architecture living on borrowed time purely because effort is still being poured into producing upgrades for such elderly machines? Crucially, could time spent on producing upgrades be spent on producing hardware drivers for the latest generation of RISC OS powered machines?
At least developments like Radeon chipset support should be keeping Castle on their toes. Who would want to be outshined by a RiscPC these days?
Update (Wed, 3 Sep 2003.19:16:45)
We're told the Radeon upgrade can be a DIY job by the user but the Radeon card must be bought from Windfall. Users therefore don't need to send back their Viewfinder cards, unless they feel they can't do the upgrade themselves.
To upgrade to a Radeon 7000 costs 150 euros. To upgrade to a Radeon 7500 costs 200 euros. A new Viewfinder card with a Radeon 7000 fitted costs 250 euros. A new Viewfinder card with a Radeon 7500 fitted costs 300 euros. Prices include VAT.
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