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AMD Radeon HD 2900 XT - A Family Affair Part 1

Along with the Radeon HD 2900 XT, AMD is launching nine other products in the HD 2000 series line up. This product range is split evenly over desktop and mobile parts, which means that there are four other desktop graphics cards to complement the top-end HD 2900 XT.

The range kicks off with the Radeon HD 2400, which will ship in both Pro and XT variants. Like the HD 2900 XT, the HD 2400 is 100 per cent DirectX 10 compliant, but considering the modest spec, don’t expect to be playing the latest games at anything but the most basic settings.

Both the HD 2400 cards have only 40 stream processors and a maximum of 256MB of memory. Of more concern is that the memory interface is limited to 64-bit, which will severely limit memory bandwidth. The core frequency on the HD 2400 Pro will be 525MHz, while the XT will manage a far more respectable 700MHz. Memory will run at 400MHz (800MHz effective), but some cards will ship with DDR2 rather than GDDR3 chips.

The good news is that the HD 2400 series still has full HDMI and HDCP support, as well as the ability to offload HD video decoding completely to the GPU. Add to this the fact that AMD were keen to show HD 2400 cards with passive heatsinks installed, and it’s clear that this could be a good option for a low power, low noise Media Center PC.

Next up is the Radeon HD2600 series, which also ships in both Pro and XT flavours. This is the midrange option that will go head to head with nVidia’s GeForce 8600 cards. The number of stream processing units rises to 120, while the core clocks are 600MHz for the Pro and 800MHz for the XT. It’s interesting that the HD 2600 XT runs a higher core frequency than the HD 2900 XT, but this could well be down to the fact that the lower end cards are manufactured using a 65nm process.

Just like the GeForce 8600, the HD 2600 is limited to a 128-bit memory interface, which will definitely limit its performance in games. In some respects the 128-bit bus on the HD 2600 is more of an issue than on nVidia’s card, since it’s only a quarter of the width offered by the top end HD 2900 XT. The top end nVidia cards by comparison, only have a 256-bit interface, so the GeForce 8600 isn’t as comparatively compromised.

Strangely AMD will be equipping the HD 2600 series with DDR2, GDDR3 and GDDR4 memory, which means that memory clocks will range from 400 - 1100MHz (800 – 2200MHz effective). This means that the HD 2600 XT could be the first Radeon HD 2000 series card to feature GDDR4, although the extra speed offered by the GDDR4 chips will be offset by the slow interface.

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