Radeon is a brand of Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) that has been manufactured by ATI since 2000. There are three different groups, which can be differentiated by the DirectX generation they support.

Table of contents
1 DirectX 7
2 DirectX 8
3 DirectX 9
4 Drivers

DirectX 7

The first Radeon processors were launched in 2000, and were initially code-named Rage 6, later R100. They were specified similar to the nVidia GeForce2, mainly being different in supporting Hyper-Z, a technology designed to remove obscured objects from image processing. However, the Radeon's performance in 16-bit colour was poor (especially compared to the GeForce 2 and 3dfx's Voodoo 5 5500), and it suffered from low pixel and texel fillrates (though Hyper-Z was able to make up for this to some degree). In 2001, after the release of the Radeon 8500, the original model was renamed as the Radeon 7200.

Other models of the original Radeon were the Radeon VE (RV100, later known at the Radeon 7000), which had one of the texturing units removed and had a 64-bit memory bus, as opposed to the 128-bit bus on the Radeon. The T&L engine and Hyper-Z was also removed. Another model was the Radeon LE, which was simply a Radeon clocked lower, and with the T&L and Hyper-Z disabled at the software level (unlike the VE, where they weren't built into the chip). The final model was the Radeon 7500 (R150), which was based on a 0.15 micron manufacturing process (R100 used a 0.18 micron process) and clocked considerably higher than the R100.


(Ranked in performance order)

  • Radeon VE/7000
  • Radeon LE
  • Radeon SDR/7200
  • Radeon DDR/7200 (32MB)
  • Radeon DDR/7200 (64MB)
  • Radeon 7500

DirectX 8

ATI's first DirectX 8 card was the Radeon 8500, which was launched together with the Radeon 8500LE (later the Radeon 9100). The 8500 was able to outperform the GeForce3 (and in some circumstances, it's faster variant, the Ti500), while the 8500LE became popular with OEMs and enthusiasts due to its low price. However, the 8500/LE was shipped without a working Anti-Aliasing implementation, and suffered a reputation for poor drivers throughout its life.

A second version, the 8500XT (R250) was supposedly in the works, ready to compete against the GeForce4 cards, but ATI (perhaps mindful of what had happened to 3dfx when they took focus off their "Rampage" processor) abandoned it, in favour of finishing off their next-generation card.

The Radeon 9000 (RV250) was launched alongside the 9700, and was basically a stripped-down 8500, incorporating a few improvements that had been put into the never-released 8500XT. It's main advantage over it's direct competitor, the GeForce 4 MX series, was that it had a full Vertex and Pixel shader implementation. In games, it peformed around the same as the GeForce 4 MX440. A later version of the 9000 was the 9200 (RV280), which, asides from supporting AGP-8X, was identical. However, there was a cheaper version, the 9200SE, which only had a 64-bit memory bus.


(Ranked in performance order)

  • Radeon 9200SE
  • Radeon 9000
  • Radeon 9200
  • Radeon 9000 Pro
  • Radeon 9200 Pro
  • Radeon 8500LE/9100
  • Radeon 8500

DirectX 9

The first DirectX 9 card from ATI (or anyone, for that matter) was the Radeon 9700 Pro (R300), launched in August 2002. The main improvements came from a greatly improved single-texturing speed (multi-texturing was around the same as the GeForce 4 TI4600's), and a 256-bit memory bus, which offered just under double the memory bandwidth of the TI4600. In normal conditions it beat the TI4600 by around 15-20%, and when Anti-Aliasing and/or Ansiotropic Filtering were switched on it beat the Ti4600 by anywhere from 40-100%. A slower chip, the 9700, was launched a few months later, differing only by slower core and memory speeds.

A few months later, the 9500 and 9500 Pro were launched. The 9500 Pro had half the memory bus width of the 9700/Pro, and the 9500 had half the pixel processing units disabled. The 9500 Pro outperformed all of nVidia's products (save the TI4600), while the 9500 also became popular. However, ATI's strategy here was flawed, as all the R300 chips were both based on the same physical die, meaning that ATI's production costs were high.

In early 2003, the 9700 cards were replaced by the 9800 (R350). These were basically R300s with higher speeds, and improvements to the shader units and memory controller, and was designed to maintain a performance lead over the newly launched GeForce FX 5800 Ultra (though it wasn't entirely neccesary, as the 5800 GPUs never went into mass-production), which it managed to do. A later version with 256MB of memory used DDR-II SDRAM.

The 9500 was replaced by the 9600 (and it's Pro variant), and while the 9600 Pro didn't outperform it's 9500 equivalent, it was much more economical for ATI to produce. The 9600 Pro did, however, manage to beat nVidia's GeForce FX 5600 Ultra.

Later in 2003, four new cards were launched - the 9800XT, 9800SE (both R360), the 9600XT and the 9600SE (both RV360). The 9800XT was slightly faster than the 9800 Pro had been, while the 9600XT competed well with the newly launched GeForce FX 5700 Ultra. The 9600SE was ATI's answer to nVidia's GeForce FX 5200/Ultra, and managed to perform better than both of them (albeit at a slightly higher price).


(Ranked in performance order)

  • Radeon 9600SE
  • Radeon 9500
  • Radeon 9600
  • Radeon 9600 Pro
  • Radeon 9800SE
  • Radeon 9600XT
  • Radeon 9500 Pro
  • Radeon 9700
  • Radeon 9800
  • Radeon 9700 Pro
  • Radeon 9800 Pro (128MB)
  • Radeon 9800 Pro (256MB)
  • Radeon 9800XT



Windows Radeon drivers are called CATALYST™. The current version is 3.10.


Initially, ATI did not produce Radeon drivers for Linux. ATI has recently, however, started to support Linux (XFree86), hiring a new Linux driver team. The new Linux drivers, instead of being a port of the Catalyst drivers, are based on the drivers for the FireGL, a card geared towards graphics producers, not gamers. The most current driver, 3.7.0, was released in the afternoon of December 28, 2003. 3.7.0 is buggy and recieved criticism, as the release didn't include very many bug fixes, and made a major version number bump