AMD Radeon Graphics
The Radeon Graphics logo
Radeon // is a brand of graphics processing units (GPU) and random access memory (RAM) produced by Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), first launched in 2000 by ATI Technologies which was acquired by AMD in 2006. Radeon is the successor to the Rage line. There are four different groups, which can be differentiated by the DirectX generation they support. More specific distinctions can also be followed, such as the HyperZ version, the number of pixel pipelines, and of course, the memory and processor clock speeds. The brand was previously known as "ATI Radeon" until August 2010, when it was renamed to create a more unified brand image. Products up to and including the HD 5000 series are branded as ATI Radeon, while the HD 6000 series and beyond use the new AMD Radeon branding.
AMD no longer sells Radeon cards directly at the retail level. Instead, it sells Radeon GPUs to third-party manufacturers, who build and sell the Radeon-based video cards to the OEM and retail channels. Manufacturers of the Radeon cards include Sapphire, XFX, Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, Biostar, Gainward, Diamond, HIS, PowerColor, Club 3D, VisionTek and Force3D.
Retail/card series name Chip series Graphics APIs support Notes DirectX OpenGL R7000-R7200 R100 DirectX 7.0 OpenGL 1.3 ATI's first graphics processor to be fully DirectX 7 compliant, first introduced in 2000. R100 brought with it large gains in bandwidth and fill-rate efficiency through the new HyperZ technology. Initial models included Radeon SDR, DDR, LE(DDR) and 7000/VE. R7500 RV200 Die-shrink of the former R100 with some core logic tweaks for clockspeed, introduced in 2001. The only release was the Radeon 7500. R8500,R9000-R9250 R200 DirectX 8.1 OpenGL 1.4 ATI's second generation Radeon. This design included ATI's first programmable pixel shader architecture and introduced the more advanced pixel shader 1.4. This line includes Radeon 8500, 9000, 9200 and 9250. R9500-R9800, X300-X600, X1050 R300 DirectX 9.0 OpenGL 2.0 ATI's DirectX 9.0 technology, released in 2002, incorporated pixel shader. Included in this generation are Radeon 9500–9800, X300–X600, and X1050. X700-850 R420 DirectX 9.0b While heavily based upon the previous generation, this line included extensions to the Shader Model 2 feature-set. Shader Model 2b, the specification ATI and Microsoft defined with this generation, offered somewhat more shader program flexibility. This generation's technology is used in Radeon X700–X850. X1300-1950 R520 DirectX 9.0c ATI's DirectX 9.0c series of graphics cards, with complete Shader Model 3.0 support. Launched in October 2005, this series brought a number of enhancements including the floating point render target technology necessary for HDR rendering with anti-aliasing. Cards released include X1300–X1950. These were the last graphics cards to be released with the prefix 'X'- new cards use the prefixes 'HD', although sometimes called 'R'. HD2000-HD3000 R600 DirectX 10.0/
DirectX 10.1 (RV670)
OpenGL 3.3 ATI's first series of ATI Radeon GPUs supporting the Direct3D 10.0 specification and the company's second graphics solution to employ unified shader technology. Releases of this platform include the HD 2400, HD 2600 and HD 2900. There are also products supporting DirectX 10.1, known as the HD 3000 series, with a die shrink. HD4000 R700 DirectX 10.1 Based on the R600 architecture. Mostly a bolstered card with many more stream processors, with improvements to power consumption and GDDR5 support for the high-end RV770 and RV740(HD4770) chips. It arrived in late June 2008. The HD 4850 and HD 4870 have 800 stream processors and GDDR3 and GDDR5 memory, respectively. HD5000 Evergreen DirectX 11 OpenGL 4.1 The series was launched on September 23, 2009. It features a 40 nm fabrication process (instead of 55 nm before), with more stream cores and compatibility with the next major version of the DirectX API, DirectX 11, which launched on October 22, 2009 along with Microsoft Windows 7. The Rxxx/RVxxx codename scheme was scrapped entirely. The first cards out of the gate are the 5870 and 5850. ATI has released beta drivers that introduces full OpenGL 4.0 support on the all variants of this series. HD6000 Northern Islands This is the first series to be marketed solely under the "AMD" brand. It features a 3rd generation 40 nm design, rebalancing the existing architecture with redesigned shaders to give it better performance. It was released first on the 22nd October 2010, in the form of the 6850 and 6870. 3D output is enabled with HDMI 1.4a and DisplayPort 1.2 outputs. HD7000 Southern Islands OpenGL 4.2 To be based on a 28 nm process and a new computing architecture "AMD Graphic Core Next".
Currently, ATI names each card by generation, series, and by performance.
The first number is the generation number (e.g. 5000) and is related to the chipset used by the video card.
The second number indicates the series quality in the generation, starting from:
- 0400 to 0600 at entry level, for media and home theatre,
- 0700 for low intensity video games (typically using older graphics engines, or widespread games, such as Starcraft and World of Warcraft) or high-intensity games with lowered settings, and
- 0800 for high-intensity games, such as Crysis or Far Cry 2.
- 0900 is a special denotation, first used on the Radeon 5970, relating to a dual chip or internal ATI CrossFire card.
The third digit is the relative quality, within a series–a 5850 is less powerful than a 5870. Typically, a card of a higher series will always have more processing power than a card in a lower series, even if the relative quality is better (a 5770 will be outperformed by a 5850).
Since ATI's first DirectX 9-class GPU, the company has followed a naming scheme that relates each product to a market segment.
Product category Card name
(* denotes wildcard)
Usual suffixes Price range (USD) Memory Outputs Example products Type Width (bit) Size (MiB) Enthusiast/
XTX, XT, XT PE, XL, Pro, GTO, GT >$150 GDDR3,
256, 512, or 1,024 Dual DVI with
HDMI (HD 2000 dongle)
9800, X800, X1950, HD 2900 Mainstream *7**
XT, XL, Pro, SE, GTO, GT, HD $100–150 DDR2,
128 128, 256, 512, or 1,024 D-sub,DVI/
Dual DVI with
HDMI (HD 2000 dongle)
7500, X700, X1600, HD 2600 Budget/value *4**
7000, 9000, 9200, 9250
SE, HM <$99 DDR2,
64 64, or 128
(HM: 768, or 1,024)
D-sub, DVI with
HDMI (HD 2000 dongle)
X1400, HD 2400
- ^1 Stream processors only applicable to Radeon HD 2000 series video cards.
ATI had re-branded its products midway in 2001, intending the 7xxx series to indicate DirectX 7.0 capabilities, 8xxx for DirectX 8.0, and so on. However in 2002, when naming the Radeon 9000/9200 which only had DirectX 8.0 rendering features, ATI advertised them as "DirectX 9.0 compatible" while the truly DirectX 9.0-spec Radeon 9700 was "DirectX 9.0 compliant".
Since the release of the Radeon HD 3000 series products, previous PRO, XT, GT, and XTX suffixes were eliminated, products will be differentiated by changing the last two digits of the product model number (for instance, HD 3850 and HD 3870, giving the impression that the HD 3870 model having higher performance than HD 3850). Similar changes to the integrated graphics processor (IGP) naming were spotted as well, for the previously launched AMD M690T chipset with side-port memory, the IGP is named Radeon X1270, while for the AMD 690G chipset, the IGP is named Radeon X1250, as for AMD 690V chipset, the IGP is clocked lower and having fewer functions and thus named Radeon X1200. The new numbering scheme of video products are shown below:
Product category Model number
range (steps of 10)1
Memory Outputs Product(s) Type Width (bit) Size (MiB) Enthusiast/
800–990 >$300 GDDR3,
256 256, 512, or 1,024 2 DVI,
HDMI, DP (dongle)
Mainstream 600–790 $150–250 DDR2,
128 128, 256, 512, or 1,024 D-sub, DVI HD 3650
DVI, 2 DP,
Budget/value 330–590 <$150 DDR2,
64 64, or 128
(HM: 768, or 1,024)
HDMI, DP (dongle)
000–300 N/A UMA,
UMA, 16 (side-port) 64, UMA
HD 3200/HD 3100/2100
- ^1 The last two digits denotes variant, similar to the previous suffixes, which 70 is in essence the XT variant while 50 is actually the Pro variant.
- ^2 Stream processors only applicable to Direct3D 10-class video components and above (Radeon HD 2000/3000/4000/5000 series).
Since the release of the Evergreen GPU family (R800), the X2 suffix, which indicated the presence of two graphic chips on the same card, has been dropped in favour of placing the number "9" as second digit of the model number in Radeon HD5000 series (i.e. HD 5970) or the number "9" on both second and third digits for HD6000 series (i.e. HD 6990). It is still unknown whether the "HDX990" trend will continue with the HD7000 Southern Islands series dual-GPU cards.
With the release of AMD Fusion SoC products in late 2010 and throughout 2011, the naming conventions of Radeon discrete and integrated GPUs are shifting again beginning with the Radeon HD 6000 series of graphics ICs
Product category Model number
range (steps of 10)1
Memory Outputs Product(s) Type Width (bit) Size (MiB) Enthusiast/
900–990 >$300 GDDR5 256 2,048
2 x 2,048
2 DVI, HDMI, mini-DP HD 6950/6970
Performance/Mid-range 700-890 $150–299 GDDR5 128
1,024 2 DVI, HDMI, 2 mini-DP HD 6750/6770
Mainstream/Value 500-690 <$150 DDR3,
128 512 or 1,024 D-sub, DVI, HDMI, mini-DP HD 6570/6670 Mainstream Fusion SoC 400–690 N/A UMA,
UMA, side-port? 128, UMA
D-sub, DVI, HDMI, mini-DP HD 6450
Low-power Fusion SoC 000–390 N/A UMA UMA, 64, UMA
D-sub, DVI, HDMI, mini-DP Ontario/Zacate IGP:
The ATI Radeon graphics driver package for Windows operating system is called AMD Catalyst.
There are unofficial modifications available such as Omega drivers and DNA drivers. These drivers typically consist of mixtures of various driver file versions with some registry variables altered and are advertised as offering superior performance or image quality. They are, of course, unsupported, and as such, are not guaranteed to function correctly. Some of them also provide modified system files for hardware enthusiasts to run specific graphics cards outside of their specifications.
ATI previously offered driver updates for their retail and integrated Macintosh video cards and chipsets. However, ever since ATI's acquisition by AMD, ATI no longer supplies or supports drivers for Mac OS Classic nor Mac OS X. Mac OS X drivers can be downloaded from Apple's support website, while Mac OS Classic drivers can be obtained from 3rd party websites that host the older drivers for users to download. ATI used to provide a preference panel for use in Mac OS X called ATI Displays which can be used both with retail and OEM versions of its cards. Though it gives more control over advanced features of the graphics chipset, ATI Displays has limited functionality compared to their Catalyst for Windows product.
ATI stopped support for Mac OS 9 after the Radeon R200 cards, making the last officially supported card the Radeon 9250. The Radeon R100 cards up to the Radeon 7200 can still be used with even older Mac OS versions such as System 7, although not all features are taken advantage of by the older operating system.
Initially, ATI did not produce Radeon drivers for Linux, instead giving hardware specifications and documentation to Direct Rendering Infrastructure (DRI) developers under various non-disclosure agreements.
In mid 2004, however, ATI started to support Linux (XFree86, X.Org), hiring a new Linux driver team to produce fglrx. Their new proprietary Linux drivers, instead of being a port of the Windows Catalyst drivers, were based on the Linux drivers for the FireGL (the FireGL drivers worked with Radeons before, but didn't officially support them), a card geared towards graphics producers, not gamers; though the display drivers part is now based on the same sources as the ones from Windows Catalyst since version 4.x in late 2004. The proprietary Linux drivers could support R200 (Radeon 8500-9200, 9250) chips. For a better display driver, the repository drivers are recommended.
The frequency of driver updates increased in late 2004, releasing Linux drivers every two months, half as often as their Windows counterparts. Then since late 2005 this has been increased to monthly releases, inline with the Windows Catalyst releases.
In 2008, ATI changed its release cycles and driver versions; now referred to as Catalyst <year>.<month>, the driver package still includes an internal 8.xx.x driver revision, but it is now monthly, sharing a common code base with the Windows driver (starting with internal release 8.43). In 2009, the Catalyst driver officially dropped support for R500 and older chips, the FOSS driver being deemed stable and complete enough. The last driver release supporting older architectures is Catalyst 9.3.
FreeBSD systems have the same open-source support for Radeon hardware as Linux, including 2D and 3D acceleration for Radeon R100, R200, and R300-series chipsets. The R300 support, as with Linux, remained experimental due to being reverse-engineered from ATI's proprietary drivers, but with the release of official documentation by AMD (following its buyout of ATI), all Radeon families up to R700 have at least 2D support in the FOSS drivers, with basic video acceleration and power management, and up to R500, have at least 'basic' (up to OpenGL 1.5 feature set, GLSL is still a work in progress) 3D acceleration. On R600/700, 3D is still very much experimental, and Evergreen support has barely started due to lack of documentation.
ATI does not support its proprietary fglrx driver on FreeBSD, it has been partly ported by a third party as of January 2007. This is in contrast to its main rival, NVIDIA, which has periodically released its proprietary driver for FreeBSD since November 2002 (64-bit beta driver available as of December 3, 2009). In the meantime, the release is similar to Linux.
MidnightBSD supports 2D and 3D acceleration for Radeon R100, R200, and R300 chipsets. This support is similar to FreeBSD and Linux.
Since the introduction of AmigaOS 4 users gained partial support for R100/R200 Radeon cards  (Radeon 8500/9100 have no 3D support). Currently, RadeonHD R700 Amiga OS4 driver is under development by 3rd party developer. The AmigaOne X1000, slated for release in 2010, will include an R700 based GPU.
Haiku / BeOS
Although ATI does not provide its own drivers for BeOS, it provides hardware and technical documentation to the Haiku Project who provide drivers with full 2D and video in/out support on older Radeon chipsets (up to r500). ATI is the sole graphics manufacturer in any way still supporting BeOS. A Radeon HD (r600+) driver is currently in development by the Haiku developers.
On September 12, 2007, AMD released documentation without an NDA for the RV630 (Radeon HD 2600 PRO and Radeon HD 2600 XT) and M56 (Mobility Radeon X1600) chips for open source driver development, for its strategic open source driver development initiative. This initial documentation released sufficient programming information for a skeleton display detection and modesetting driver to be released. This was version 1.0.0 of the radeonhd driver, developed in cooperation with Novell. The register reference guides for M76 (Mobility Radeon HD 2600/2700/3600/3800 series) and RS690 (AMD 690 chipset series) were also released on January 4, 2008.
Most of the work is shared with the existing Xorg radeon driver that also supports older Radeon architectures. Conceptually, radeonhd initially tried to directly hit a card's register to perform its operations, while Xorg's driver radeon makes use of AtomBIOS (an abstraction layer created by Ati to ease the programming of new video card drivers) when available. Since AtomBIOS headers have been made public by AMD and are kept up to date, the argument went rather moot.
As of December 2009, the DRM part of the radeon driver is now included in the mainstream Linux kernel, the first version appearing in kernel version 2.6.32, used by default on several GNU/Linux distributions.
On August 7, 2011 AMD expanded the Radeon name to include a new random access memory venture, selling mainstream, "gamer", and enterprise DDR3 RAM modules.
- Comparison of AMD graphics processing units
- ATI Rage – previous series of ATI's video cards
- Video In Video Out (VIVO)
- ^ http://www.arnnet.com.au/article/358774/ati_re-branded_amd/
- ^ http://www.amd.com/us/products/desktop/graphics/amd-radeon-hd-6000/Pages/amd-radeon-hd-6000.aspx
- ^ "Ready, Willing and Able – AMD Supports OpenGL 3.3 and OpenGL 4.0 | AMD Developer Central Blogs". Blogs.amd.com. 2010-03-25. http://blogs.amd.com/developer/2010/03/25/ready-willing-and-able-%E2%80%93-amd-supports-opengl-3-3-and-opengl-4-0/. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
- ^ "RV670 is Radeon HD 3800 Series". VR-Zone. October 17, 2007. http://www.vr-zone.com/articles/RV670_is_Radeon_HD_3800_Series/5358.html#Scene_1.
- ^ (Spanish) MadboxPC thread. Retrieved November 10, 2007.
- ^ "System 7 Today - High Power 3D Video Cards". Main.system7today.com. http://main.system7today.com/articles/videocards.html. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
- ^ r2** support is completely broken with 8.25.18 - Rage3D Discussion Area
- ^ "AmigaOS 4.1 Gone Gold". Hyperion Entertainment. http://www.hyperion-entertainment.biz/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=59:amigaos-41-gone-gold&catid=36:amigaos-4x&Itemid=18. Retrieved 2010-04-14.
- ^ "RadeonHD Driver". http://hdrlab.org.nz/projects/amiga-os-4-projects/radeonhd-driver/. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
- ^ "A-EON Technology". A-EON Technology. http://a-eon.com/. Retrieved 2010-04-14.
- ^ "Radeon HD driver status update.". http://haiku-os.org/blog/kallisti5/2011-05-13_driver_status_update_radeon_hd. Retrieved 2011-05-17.
- ^ "Supported hardware - MorphOS". http://www.morphos-team.net/hardware.html. Retrieved 2008-11-22.
- ^ AMD Press release. Retrieved September 13, 2007.
- ^ AMD Open GPU documentations page. Retrieved Dec 30, 2010.
- ^ freedesktop.org git - xorg/driver/xf86-video-radeonhd/summary
- ^ freedesktop.org Radeon feature matrix
- ^ AMD developer forum thread on AtomBIOS
- ^ Phoronix article about AtomBIOS
- ^ Package search at DistroWatch.com
- ^ "Graphics Memory from AMD". http://www.amd.com/us/products/technologies/radeon-memory/Pages/system-memory.aspx.
- ATI Technologies Inc.
- DRI Wiki: ATI Radeon
- Performance of all the latest Radeon and competitors cards
- Rage3D: Support community for ATI hardware and drivers. News and discussion.
- Driver downloads for all Radeon cards.
- strags.com: WHQL certified Mobility Radeon HD driver archive.
- Information about all Radeon based graphics cards.
AMD graphics products Consumer graphics processing units Chipsets Other products and technologies Multi-GPU GPU technologies Workstations and HPC Drivers and software
Multimedia and mobile Video game console GPU 1 Upcoming product. 2 Discontinued product.
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