Video Card: AIW 9600 Pro Review :: Introduction

11-24-2003 · Category: Hardware - Video Cards

By Benjamin Sun

ATI has been in existence over 23 years. In terms of longevity of a video card company that is longer lived than any company other than Matrox Graphics, which has been around for 26 years. Over that period of time many companies in the business have come and gone. What once was a crowded marketplace with many companies selling different brands and technologies of video cards is now a two horse race. Hopefully companies like VIA and SIS will bring more choices of high performance cards.

ATI first introduced the AIW (All In Wonder) series of video cards with their Rage chipset way back in 1996. The first AIW card was fairly simplistic, adding a TV tuner to their fastest video chip available. Later AIW cards included the AIW 128, the AIW RADEON, the AIW VE, the AIW 7500the RADEON 8500DV, the AIW RADEON 8500 128, the AIW 9000 Pro, the AIW 9700 Pro, the AIW 9800 Pro and now the AIW 9600 Pro.

ATI introduced their first DirectX 9 class video card in the fall of 2002, the 9700 Pro. A $399 video card, the 9700 Pro was an extremely successful high-end card. The mainstream equivalent card announced at the same time, the 9500 Pro, used the same chip but had a limitation that the 9700 did not (8 pixel pipelines 128 bit memory bus instead of the 256 bit memory bus on the 9700 Pro).

In February of this year ATI refreshed their lineup with 2 new cards. RADEON 9800 Pro replaced the 9700 Pro in their lineup and RADEON 9600 Pro replaced the 9500 Pro. The 9600 Pro (codenamed RV350) was a mainstream card that was ATI's first .13 micron video card. In general ATI releases their AIW cards with the same or lower core as the card it's based upon, until now.

ATI announced the AIW 9600 Pro in July of this year. At the time, ATI figured that the card would hit retail in August/September. Unfortunately, things didn't exactly go according to plan. Due to the blackout that hit the Northeast and the various problems with the SoBig worm, it was slightly delayed. Today, ATI is shipping the AIW 9600 to stores and it should be available as you read this review.