Under codename RV630, ATI developed the Radeon HD 2600 and it'll become available in two (Pro and XT) models. The value-targeted RV610-based products will carry the ATI Radeon HD 2400 name with two models; Pro and XT again.
Both RV610 and RV630 support PCIe 2.0 for increased bandwidth. Native support for CrossFire remains, as with current ATI Radeon X1650 XT and X1950 Pro products. Compared to the R600 (HD 2900 XT), AMD is manufacturing RV610 and RV630 on a 65nm manufacturing process as it's on a quest for low power consumption and our review today will show that's exactly the case. Expect RV610 products to consume around 25 to 35 watts. RV630 requires more power nearing 75 Watts.
What's interesting to see is that AMD-ATI is launching several products within its lineup (now your going HUH right ?). Well for example with the HD 2600 XT you'll see no less than three versions, check it out:
Radeon HD 2600 XT Gemini
$189 - 249
GeForce 8600 GTS
Radeon HD 2600 XT GDDR4
GeForce 8600 GT
Radeon HD 2600 XT GDDR3
Radeon HD 2600 Pro
GeForce 8500 GT
Radeon HD 2400 XT
GeForce 8400 GS
Radeon HD 2400 Pro
So that makes six products actually.
If you are in the market for it; the HD 2600 series is probably what you guys will buy the most. It's DX 10 ready product with a stackload of features. Full 1080P HD decoding? Not an issue, seriously not an issue at all! We see the Avivo HD technology for hardware HD video processing with 5.1 audio over HDMI. We'll explain this a bit better in the coming pages. Here's also where the Crossfire fun starts. Have a look at some photos later on and you'll see the new recently introduced Crossfire connectors (bridged just like NVIDIA's SLI connector). You insert two of these cards in a compatible mainboard, apply the two Crossfire bridges, enable it in the Catalyst driver and you are home-free.
The GPU core has 390 million transistors, which is a friggin lot for a mid-range product. We see a good number of shader processors; 120 Stream Processing Units. From the numbers the cards look very interesting. Clock speeds are high, very high. The clocks on this HD 2600 XT IceQ are at a nice 830 MHz (800 is default).
The memory then. I was really hoping to see AMD be the first to go for a 256-bit wide memory bus but unfortunately just like the competition they are sticking to 128-bit. This is where the cards will hurt from the most.
Normally the memory for this gDDR3 model card would be clocked at roughly 2x700 MHz for the XT models that is, this HiS model come with a 2x930 MHz (1.86 GHz) clock frequency. Also worth a mention, the Radeon 2600 has native Crossfire capability. Crossfire means that you can hook up two graphics cards in your system, connect them and double up your 3D rendering power.
Most of you know this, but the previous generation products, except the X1950 Pro and the low-end segment, had to use an Y-Cable to be able to run Crossfire.
Ever since the Catalyst 6.5 drivers you'll be able to hook up similar Radeon X1000 series graphics cards from the low and mid-range segment, up to the X1600 without the need for a master card AND you do not need the Y-Cable. ATI used it to composite images between the two cards. ATI was producing a digital image from the DVI output of the slave card and then sending it to that large connector (DMS-59) on the master board. The master board would, on its terms, prepare its image and then send off both to a compositing engine that was processed on the master board. The master card was responsible for "fusion" of the images between the two boards and that could be done in a number of varieties. So that was why you needed a primary card, you had two cards rendering images and then there was a compositing engine need which was located on the master card.
ATI nowadays has basically natively incorporated the compositing engine that was located on the CrossFire Master card right into the GPU die. This is now effective with all Series 2600 and 2900 products. So there's no need anymore for a master/slave card. To run the cards in a CrossFire configuration, all you have to do is connect them via a pair of ribbon cables, very similar to NVIDIA's SLI bridge. These cables for the time being will actually be bundled with the video cards and not the motherboards, because there are a plethora of Intel 975 and P965 boards already available that are CrossFire compatible that don't ship with the appropriate connector cables.
Just plug these cards into a (2x) x16 PCI-Express lane Crossfire compatible mainboard and it should work.
Software wise this is pretty much all you need to do in the Catalyst software is opt for; Enable Crossfire.
Looking at the graphics card, you'll notice that the PCB color of the card is no longer red yet blue. Interesting move, but I would have loved to see a black PCB though. Also for the cool factor you'll notice gold colorized DVI connectors and obviously the IceQ cooler.
Bundle wise you receive everything that is needed to get started. Two pointers though. First I would have liked to see the HDMi/DVI converter included into this package. Secondly, there's a flyer in there promoting some free Steam games. Now don't get confused here, if you own any Radeon graphics card, install the latest Catalyst drivers you'll receive HL2: Lost Coast and HL2: Deathmatch for free anyway, read more about that here.
Other than that, this is an okay yet run of the mill bundle.
HIS HD 2600XT IceQ TURBO 512MB DDR3 This tested product is a HiS product, and in their line-up they always offer a IceQ version usually combined with a "Turbo" tag. This product is no different. Not only does this Radeon HD 2600 XT graphis card come with 512MB memory, it also comes pre-overclocked and has that IceQ cooler slapped on top of it.