FireGL X2-256t

30 Apr, 2004 By: Ron LaFon

Midrange graphics card.

The FireGL graphics card line has long been a standard fixture in workstation-level computer systems. The new FireGL X2-256t features increased engine and memory speeds and comes equipped with 256MB of onboard graphics memory and dual DVI-I connectors.

The FireGL X2-256t graphics board provides 256MB of onboard memory.
The FireGL X2-256t graphics board provides 256MB of onboard memory.

At first glance, the most obvious physical feature of the FireGL X2-256t is a copper fan that dominates the design. Even so, the board is relatively compact. ATI elected to use a copper fan because of the material's thermal and cooling properties-making for a more effective heat sink. The fan is larger, runs more slowly, and produces less noise compared with other cards.

The FireGL X2-256t is based on the FireGL 9800XT VPU (visual processing unit), which features four geometry engines and eight parallel rendering pipelines. The card supports resolutions of 2048X1536 per display.

The FireGL X2-256t is an AGP 8X graphics card that requires an additional power connector, but doesn't fill two system slots. The graphics card has dual integrated, 10-bit-per-channel, 400MHz DACs.

The FireGL X2-256t supports hardware acceleration 
of the following
The FireGL X2-256t supports hardware acceleration of the following

Drivers are ISV (independent software vendor) certified for applications such as 3ds max, SolidWorks, MicroStation, MAYA, and Softimage XSI. Drivers are available for Windows 2000/XP and Red Hat and Suse Linux. The FireGL X2-256t supports the full OpenGL 1.4 API (application programming interface) and extensions, DirectX 9.0, and hardware-accelerated rendering using OpenGL shading language and DirectX 9 HLSL. Each color component (RGBA) has 24-bit support so it can display images at color depths beyond 16.7 million colors.

Warranty and support for the FireGL X2-256t includes three-year limited product repair and replacement, along with an advanced parts replacement option and workstation-level technical support via e-mail and phone.

At $899, ATI's FireGL X2-256t is priced as a midrange CAD graphics card. The results from our Cadalyst Labs benchmark suite place it in the midrange as far as performance is concerned. The tests generally ran smoothly, though I did note some visual artifacts on-screen during the text array components of the Cadalyst Labs C2001 benchmark. The C2001 total index score for the FireGL 256t was 79.10, and the SPEC ViewPerf proe-02 test score was 20.80. The card performed best on the 3ds max components of the benchmark, producing an averaged score of 50.14 on the MAXBENCH 4 test using 3ds max 6. Using the included MAXimum v1.4.4065 accelerated driver, it achieved a score of 78.6. None of the scores were top-of-the-line, but they were certainly good scores for a midrange card.

About the Author: Ron LaFon