DOS Days

ATi Technologies

Advanced Technology Information Systems (ATI) was one of the largest manufacturers of graphics expansion cards for the IBM PC and its compatibles. The company, who started under the name of Array Technology, Inc., was founded in 1985 by Lee Ka Lau, Francis Lau, Benny Lau, and Kwok Yuen Ho from China, and were based in Markham, Ontario.

The 'Wonder' series of cards was introduced in 1987, and was superceded by the 'Mach' range with the introduction of the Mach8 in 1990. Taking 3D acceleration to the next level was the 'Rage', that began in 1996.

Graphics Card Product Lines (click the link to jump down to the cards that used these):

Wonder series (1987-1992) Mach series (1991-1996) Rage series (1996-2000) Radeon series (2000-)
EGA Wonder (1987)
EGA Wonder 800 (1987)
EGA Wonder VIP (1987)
EGA Wonder 800+ (1988)
Small Wonder v1 (1988)
Small Wonder v2 (1988)
VGA Wonder (1988)
VGA Wonder 16 (1988)
Prism VGA/Prism Elite (1989)
VGA Wonder+ (1990)
VGA Integra (1990)
VGA Basic 16 (1990)
VGA Wonder 1024D (1990)
VGA Charger (1991)
VGA Wonder XL (1991)
VGA Wonder XL24 (1992)
Stereo F/X series (1992/1993)
Graphics Ultra (1991)
Graphics Ultra Plus (1992)
Graphics Vantage (1992)
Graphics Ultra Pro ISA (1992)
Graphics Ultra Pro PCI/VLB (1993)
WinCharger (1994)
Mach64 (1995)
Mach64 VT2 (1996)

3D Rage (1996)
3D Xpression (1996)
3D Rage II (1996)
3D Rage IIc AGP (1996)
3D Xpression+ (1996)
All-In-Wonder (1997)
3D Rage II+ DVD (1997)
3D Charger (1997)
3D Rage Pro (1997)
Video Xpression+ (1998)
3D Rage Pro Turbo (1998)
3D Rage XL/XC (1999)
Rage 128 Pro (1999)
Rage 128 Ultra (1999)
Rage 128GL/Rage Fury (1999)
Radeon 7000-series (2000)
Radeon 8000-series (2001)

In 2000, ATI acquired ArtX, which engineered the Flipper graphics chip used in the Nintendo GameCube game console. They also created a modified version of the chip (codenamed 'Hollywood') for the successor of the GameCube, the Wii.

ATI Technologies was acquired by AMD in July 2006 for $5.4 billion, where its operations became part of the AMD Graphics Product Group (GPG), who continued with the Radeon line. On 30 August 2010, AMD announced that they would retire the ATI brand for its graphics chipsets in favor of the AMD name.

Mach 8 Series (1991 - 1992)

The mach8 chip was ATi's first graphics accelerator chip, and was effectively a clone of IBM's 8514/A XGA chip found on some of their high-end PS/2 computer series, though they implemented it on the ISA bus rather the Micro-Channel Architecture (MCA). Launched in 1991, mach8 was used on the Graphics Ultra and Graphics Vantage cards.

Mach 32 Series (1992 - 1995)

The mach32 chip (ATI68800) is the immediate predecessor to the mach64 family. The mach32 was register compatible with both the IBM 8514/A and the mach8. The mach32 also contained a VGA controller on the chip that was compatible with the VGA Wonder so a separate VGA controller was not needed. The memory on the mach32 board was shared between the VGA controller and the mach32 accelerator. The mach32 improved upon the mach8 by providing a linear aperture to allow fast image data transfer by mapping the video memory to the system memory address space. Later revisions of the mach32 also were able to memory map the mach32 registers to overcome the performance penalty incurred in going through I/O port-mapped registers. Finally, the mach32 contained a hardware cursor. mach32-based boards were produced in five bus types: ISA, EISA, VESA Local Bus, Microchannel, and PCI.

Mach 64 Series (1995 - 1996)

The mach64 represented a departure from the mach32 in that it was no longer register compatible with previous ATI graphics accelerators or the 8514/A. (VGA register compatibility was retained, however.) This departure was necessary to resolve some design limitations that were a legacy of the older generation chips. Fortunately, almost all the functionality that was in the mach32 was preserved in the mach64 design, and some
useful additions and enhancements were incorporated. As indicated on the table below, the mach64 can be divided into two major types, the GX family and the CT family. While applications that use the mach64 should run on both types with little or no modification, there are some important differences between the two families that are highlighted in the following sections. Boards based on mach64 are produced in ISA, VESA Local Bus and PCI bus versions.

The mach64 family was further split into mach64GX, mach64CT, and mach64VT:

Mach 64GX

The mach64GX family encompasses the mach64GX (ATI888GX00) and mach64CX (ATI888CX00) variants. The major distinguishing characteristics of this family are the use of an external DAC and external clock synthesizer, support for VRAM, the VGA controller is VGA Wonder-compatible and is independently programmable from the accelerator controller. From a very rough architectural perspective, the mach64GX family more resembles the mach32 than it does the mach64CT family. However, from a functionality and register level perspective, the mach64GX is almost identical to the mach64CT.

Mach 64CT

The mach64CT family encompasses the mach64CT (ATI264CT), mach64VT (ATI264VT) and mach64GT (3D RAGE) variants. The major distinguishing characteristics of this family are integrated DAC and clock synthesizer, no VRAM support, the VGA controller is 'pure' VGA (not VGA Wonder-compatible) and the VGA controller is not independently programmable from the accelerator controller.

Mach 64VT

The mach64VT family of chips is built upon the previously mentioned CT. They have the same feature set as the CT, plus some additional video features such as a back-end hardware overlay and back-end hardware scaler.

RAGE Series (1996 - 1999)

Mach 64GT (3D RAGE, RAGE ii, ii+, IIc, RAGE PRO)

The mach64GT (commonly known as the 3D RAGE) introduced hardware support for 3D operations. The 3D RAGE included all mach64VT features with the addition of hardware 3D acceleration, improved video filtering, and integrated motion compensation (RAGE PRO only). In order of performance for gaming desktops, the Rage series looks like this, from slowest to fastest:

  • 3D Rage, 1996 (1996)
  • Rage II+ DVD (1997)
  • Rage Pro (1997)
  • Rage IIc (1996)
  • Rage Pro Turbo (1998)
  • Rage 128 Ultra (1999)
  • Rage 128 Pro (1999)
  • Rage Fury (1998)
  • Rage Fury MAXX (2000)


The mach64LB (commonly known as the RAGE LT-PRO) provides the mach64GT core hardware support for 3D operations. The RAGE LT-PRO includes all mach64GT features with the addition of an integrated TV-Encoder, LVDS, and Dual CRT Controllers, plus the graphics subsystem power.

Mach 64GM (RAGE XL)

The mach64GM (commonly known as the RAGE XL) provides the mach64GT core hardware support for 3D operations. The RAGE XL includes all mach64GT features with the addition of an integrated TMDS for flat panels and integrated motion compensation.


The mach64LM (commonly known as the RAGE MOBILITY) provides the mach64GT core hardware support for 3D operations. The RAGE MOBILITY includes all mach64GT features with the addition of very low graphics subsystem power, integrated TMDS for flat panels and hardware DVD decode via integrated iDCT.


Products are listed in chronological order based on their release date.

Graphics Cards

EGA Wonder

Released: Early 1987
Chipset: ATi16899-0 and Chips & Technologies P82C435
Support: Hercules, CGA, EGA
Memory: 256 KB DRAM
Bus: ISA 8-bit
Ports: 9-pin DSUB (supports both mono and RGB TTL), RCA Composite out
Part #: 16890 (v1), 16892 (v2, v3, v4)
Price: $399 (at launch), $299 (Jun 1987), $259 (Aug 1987), $229 (Dec 1987), $200 (May 1988)

The EGA Wonder arrived in March 1987. This card removed support for the Plantronics mode/single-page Hercules mode/composite output. It came with an internal composite port for use with the IBM 5155 Portable computer.

Its adverts touted its ability to run on a wide variety of monitor types, including EGA, NEC Multisync, standard RGB, those that supported 25-Khz colour, TTL monochrome and composite.

In text modes, it could also display up to 132 columns, making Lotus 1-2-3 and Symphony users able to view a year of data on a single screen. WordStar and WordPerfect also had built-in support for 132-column mode.

ATI even offered a $99 interface to allow the EGA Wonder to fit inside the Compaq Portable, replacing its own internal display controller. This interface connected to EGA Wonder's 'feature connector' along the top.

"A half-slot display board designed to reduce the expense of high-grade graphics, ATI's EGA Wonder attempts to produce EGA-quality images on a standard color display.
The EGA Wonder can emulate four graphics boards, including IBM's Monochrome Display Adapter (MDA) and CGA, as well as the Hercules Graphics Card (HGC). As with IBM's EGA, the EGA Wonder's enhanced color mode supports a resolution of 650 by 350 pixels with 16 simultaneous colors from a palette of 64. In this mode, the EGA Wonder can drive either an enhanced color display or a monochrome monitor (with 16 shades of gray); but the real hook is the way the board tries to trick a CGA-compatible color monitor into delivering enhanced color performance.
The EGA Wonder accomplishes this feat with interlaced scanning. Ordinarily, the electron gun in a CGA monitor scans the screen in a single sweep, leaving spaces bettween the scan lines. The EGA Wonder uses interlaced scanning to sweep the screen in two stages: one pass to produce CGA-like resolution, and a second to fill in the spaces between the lines.
Unfortunately, interlaced scanning has its drawbacks, the most obvious of which is flicker. When the EGA Wonder is hooked up to a CGA monitor, both text and graphics flitter like an old-time nickelodeon. Another problem is "blooming," which occurs when the board drives a monochrome monitor. When the screen changes in MDA mode, the image starts off about two-thirds size and expands to full screen over a period of several seconds.
When operating in text mode on a monochrome monitor, the EGA Wonder exhibits another annoying habit: producing "ghosties," or random, blinking characters on the screen. The EGA Wonder's ghosties are generally transitory, appearing and disappearing at irregular intervals, but sometimes the little phantoms accumulate, especially when the board is driven by Microsoft Word. In addition, colors sometimes streak when the EGA Wonder is used with a CGA monitor in CGA mode.
As with the Paradise Auto-switch EGA (see From the Hardware Shelf, PCW, December 1986), the EGA Wonder automatically switches between modes. The mode-switching worked well during testing, even with unruly programs like Flight Simulator and Jet.
The main problem with the EGA Wonder is that it tries to do too much. In doubling the resolution of a standard color monitor, it pushes a mediocre piece of hardware beyond its limits, yielding a predictably mediocre result. Couple this inherent weakness with inconsistent CGA and MDA emulation, and the EGA Wonder can't live up to the demands of increasingly sophisticated users."
     PC World, May 1987


"The ATI EGA Wonder card runs VGA mode 11h and 12h software. It comes with high-resolution drivers for both Lotus 1-2-3 and Windows. Additional drivers are included for Autocad, GEM, Symphony, and Ventura Publisher.

In some ways, ATI's documentation is the best in our test group, with clear information for both novices and advanced users. Different sections discuss troubleshooting, specifications, and technical reference information. The 11-page technical reference section covers detailed programming for advanced users.

Clear diagrams and easy-to-read DIP switch setting charts also complement the 50-page manual. Two problems hold it back, however: a pair of DIP switch charts that contradict each other for one monitor type, with potentially damaging consequences; and a tendency to make obscure hardware and software references such as a reference to "the 25 kHz monitor".

The 752-by-410 and 640-by-480 Windows drivers provided good resolution. But note that the 800-by-560 Windows driver doesn't give a true WYSIWYG image (which you would get from an 800-by-600 driver).

However, other features did not work as well. For example, the 132-column Lotus 1-2-3 text driver works only in monochrome mode, and then only sporadically. The technical support staff said they are currently fixing a compatibility problem with Lotus 1-2-3, Release 2.01.

The ATI Wonder offers the unique capability of displaying EGA (640-by-350) on a CGA or monochrome monitor. However, our tests of the board's performance on various CGA monitors, including the IBM brand, showed a degree of flicker so intense as to be unusable. On an IBM-brand monochrome monitor, however, flicker was reduced to a nearly imperceptible level, apparently benefiting from the unusually long-persistence phosphor used by IBM in the monitor. On the whole, we strongly recommend the ATI Wonder card be considered only for EGA monitors and above;"

InfoWorld, October 1987


At launch, the ATI EGA Wonder competed against Ahead Systems EGA Wizard Deluxe, Quadram Quad EGA Prosync, Video Seven Vega Deluxe, Sigma VGA and STB Systems VGA Extra.

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EGA Wonder 800

Released: June 1987
Chipset: ATi16899-0 and Chips & Technologies P86C435
Support: CGA, Hercules monochrome, EGA
Memory: 256 KB DRAM
Bus: ISA 8-bit
Ports: 9-pin DSUB (Mono and RGB TTL), RCA Composite out
Part #: 16890, 16900, 104001500-0
Price: $399 (at launch), $219 (May 1988), $225 (Apr 1989)

Added support for extended EGA text and graphics modes - these require a multisync monitor. Also added support for 16-colour VGA modes. Another pic. Another pic.

IBM's VGA standard was brand new at the time of this card's release, but it could run in 800 x 560 resolutions as well as VGA 640 x 480 and 732 x 410 on a Multisync monitor. The 732 x 410 resolution would also work on a standard 400-line (non-multiscan) 25 KHz monitor.

The 132-line extended text mode would also work on multiscan monitors, EGA 400-line 25 KHz monitors, RGB, TTL monochrome and most other monitors.

EGA Wonder VIP

Released: August 1987
Chipset: ATi16899-0 and Chips & Technologies P82C441
Support: CGA, Hercules, EGA, limited VGA
Memory: 256 KB DRAM
Bus: ISA 8-bit
Ports: 9-pin DSUB (mono TTL), 15-pin DSUB (RGB analogue)
Part #: 18008
Price: $449 (1987), $309 (May 1988), $254 (Sep 1988), $179 (Jan 1989), $239 (Jul 1989), $199 (Nov 1989)

Released in August 1987, this was ATi's first VGA card.

VIP stood for VGA Improved Performance. This card has 'Softsense' automatic mode switching, which changes graphics mode based on what the running application requests. This card has DIP switches to select the default startup graphics mode, and has both 9-pin TTL and 15-pin analogue connectors.

Like the EGA Wonder 800, it could run in 800 x 560 resolutions as well as VGA 640 x 480 and 732 x 410 on a Multisync monitor. The 732 x 410 resolution would also work on a standard 400-line (non-multiscan) 25 KHz monitor.

EGA Wonder 800+

Released: 1988
Chipset: ATi18800-1
Support: EGA, VGA
Memory: 256 KB DRAM
Bus: ISA 8-bit
Ports: 9-pin DSUB (Mono and RGB TTL)
Part #: 16890, 109006000
Price: $295 (at launch), $199 (Nov 1989)

Added support for 16-colour VGA. A rebadged VGA Edge, but lacking the analogue VGA port and RAMDAC.
DIP switches removed as this card auto-detects the monitor type connected.

Small Wonder v1

Released: 1988
Chipset: ATi18700-04
Support: Hercules, CGA, Extended CGA, Plantronics ColorPlus.
Memory: 64 KB
Bus: ISA 8-bit
Ports: 9-pin DSUB (TTL), RCA composite out (CGA only)
Part #: 18701
Price: $169 (1990)

The Small Wonder (full name 'Small Wonder Graphics Solution') was a Hercules clone also able to support extended CGA modes like 640 x 200 in 16 colours as well as 132-column text.

DIP switches are used to set the graphics mode and connected monitor type:
Sw 1 ON = MDA/Hercules graphics mode
Sw 1 OFF = CGA/Plantonics Color+ graphics mode
Sw 2 ON = RGBI or Composite monitor
Sw 2 OFF = Monochrome monitor
Sw 3 ON = Composite in Color
Sw 3 OFF = Composite in Monochrome (IBM PC portable)
Sw 4 = Nothing (used on the very few 'g' versions of the card with a joystic port instead of the composite out)

The Small Wonder has three fonts, but its third font isn't the same as the IBM 'thin' font. It has narrower characters (5 pixels wide rather than 7) and I think it gets used in some of the extended modes.


Small Wonder v2

Released: 1988
Chipset: ATi18700
Support: Hercules, CGA, Extended CGA, Plantronics ColorPlus
Memory: 64 KB
Bus: ISA 8-bit
Ports: 9-pin DSUB (TTL), RCA composite out (CGA only)
Part #: 18703
Price: Unknown

A minor update on Small Wonder version 1. In 'Mono monitor' mode, it uses the 720x350 mode (even for CGA simulation), but it may use 8x8 font mode in CGA monitor/composite mode.

DIP switch settings are the same as for the Small Wonder v1.

VGA Wonder

Released: 1988
Chipset: ATi18800, ATi18830
Support: CGA, Hercules, EGA, VGA, and SVGA
Memory: 256 KB or 512 KB DRAM
Bus: ISA 8-bit
Ports: 9-pin DSUB (mono TTL), 15-pin DSUB (RGB analogue)
Max. Resolution: 1024x768 in 16 colours (256 KB), 800x600 in 256 colours (512 KB)
Price: $699/$499 (512K/256K, Jun 1989), $425 (256K, Sep 1989), $339/$279 (512K/256K, May 1990)

The VGA Wonder series was released in 1988. This card was ATi's first Super VGA-compatible card, making use of their brand new 18800 chipset.

It uses an onboard EEPROM chip to store its configuration settings, and has monitor auto-sensing (so no DIP switches).

"I've always liked ATI video adapters and have used several of their cards for years. Now, their VGA Wonder comes along and reaches extended VGA modes.
Using its 9-pin digital port with EGA, RGB or TTL monochrome monitors, VGA Wonder handles conventional EGA, CGA, MDA and Hercules Graphics modes. Using its 15-pin analog port with a multifrequency monitor, VGA Wonder handles all those plus 16-color 640x480, 800x600 and 1024x 768 resolutions or 256-color 320x200, 640x400, 640x480 and 800x600 resolutions. However, a 512K VGA Wonder is needed for 256 colors at 640x480 or 800x600 resolutions. PS/2 8514, PS/2 color and PS/2 monochrome monitors display subsets of the multifrequency monitor's modes.

VGA Wonder has no jumpers or switches, so installation is simple. It fits an 8-bit or 16-bit computer expansion slot, for which the card automatically configures itself An 8-bit slot is appropriate for PC or PC-XT computers, but a 16-bit slot and data path provide faster displays for PC-AT or 286/386 computers.

VGA Wonder configures itself to the connected monitor when powered up the first time, but the configuration is determined by connector pin arrange- ments and may not always be ideal for a particular monitor. An old NEC Multi- Sync configured as a PS/2 color monitor, while a new Princeton Ultra 14 monitor configured as a PS/2 8514. Neither provided a full range of display modes, but ATI software let me reconfigure each monitor manually as though it was a MultiSync or MultiSync Plus to access all possible reso-lutions and colors. I used VGA Wonder's 9-pin digital port only long enough to see that it worked. Other users may appreciate the digital capability as a first step while upgrading hardware, but I wanted the card's highest capabilities immediately and switched to the 15-pin analog port quickly.

This card uses "interlacing" like IBM's 8514 system for 1024x768 displays and does an excellent job of it. However, not all display modes are available on all monitors. The better the monitor, the better the card's performance. My old NEC MultiSync (not a MultiSync II or MultiSync XL) could get at all modes, but I had to readjust size, position and vertical hold controls whenever display modes changed. While not unusual, that was enough trouble to make me replace the monitor. A Princeton Ultra-14 monitor worked beautifully, in part because it had a frequency range wide enough to ac- commodate the VGA Wonder's top 35.5-kHz horizontal and 87-Hz vertical sync signals for analog monitors. And this particular monitor's automatic display adjustments eliminated fiddling with monitor controls for mode changes.

The 512K VGA Wonder is fast. Under ideal conditions, ATI claims it's up to 800 percent faster than an IBM VGA card in a 16-bit slot and up to 400 percent faster in an 8-bit slot. Testing programs I use report operation at 1.96 to 2.8 times faster than a regular PC-AT video card, but other adapters have tested at only a small fraction of the nominal PC-AT video speed. ATI says VGA Wonder is totally compatible with IBM's VGA hardware architecture at the register level. One test program I tried found no incorrect register values and confirmed full com- patibility. Incidentally, the same program said ATI's older VIP card had 136 "incorrect" BIOS register values and wasn't register-level compatible. I found only one program that didn't like the VGA Wonder. But Sir-Tech's "Seven Spirits of RA" has given me trouble with many video adapters, so I blame the software, not the VGA Wonder card.

New video adapters, especially extended-VGA types, suffer from shortages of software support for their highest displays. It takes time for soft- ware developers to provide drivers for new cards, and hardware developers rarely have enough drivers. VGA Won- der is no exception. It handles conventional resolutions up to 640x480 and 16 colors without special considerations, but few commercial programs have drivers in extended VGA modes yet.

ATI's own drivers give specific modes for Autodesk programs, Lotus programs, Ventura Publisher, the Windows environment and the GEM environment. For example, ATI has 800x 600 16-color and 1024x768 4-color drivers for Windows but no 1024x768 16-color driver, which hampers many Windows-based graphics products.
I had trouble with ATI's driver installation routine for Ventura Publisher. ATI personnel say it works for them, but I was unsuccessful in ten attempts to install 1024x768 Ventura drivers (800x600 Ventura installations worked). I eventually installed drivers manually, but I only got a 1024x768 noncolor mode to work for Ventura Publisher 2.0. On the other hand, many programs have 800x560 drivers for ATI's VIP card. Although not recom-mended by ATI, those often are usable with the VGA Wonder. With a quality monitor, 800x600 displays are magnificent for Windows and Ventura Publisher. The displays are sharp and free of distortion or flicker.

VGA Wonder is a powerful video adapter. Although not compatible with extended VGA software drivers for Orchid, Tseng or Paradise cards, it won't be long before program developers provide full VGA Wonder support as they've done for other ATI products. That makes the VGA Wonder a product to grow into instead of outgrowing."
Online Today, June 1989

A cost-reduced version of the VGA Wonder was released called the VGA Edge 8 (aka VGA Wonder 256), which came with 256 KB RAM.

Operations Manual

VGA Wonder 16

Released: 1988
Chipset: ATi18800, ATi18820, ATi18830
Support: CGA, Hercules, EGA, VGA, and SVGA
Memory: 256 KB or 512 KB DRAM
Bus: ISA 16-bit (also compatible with 8-bit slots)
Ports: 9-pin DSUB (mono TTL), 15-pin DSUB (RGB analogue)
Part #: 109004800
Price: $499 (256 KB variant), $699 (512 KB variant)

Released in 1988, the VGA Wonder 16 was ATi's first 16-bit card, and better-performing due to the wider bus. Another picture is here.

It came with a Bus mouse connector (as well as a bus mouse included), and a VGA pass-through connector.

The VGA Wonder 16 was the card known to be bundled with the following desktop PCs in early-to-mid 1990:

  • Oak MicroSystems D386/33/4
  • Zeos 386/33
  • Telemart MIT 386/25

A cost-reduced version of the VGA Wonder 16 (256 KB variant) was released called the VGA Edge 16. This lacked the bus mouse connector and the digital TTL output.

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Prism VGA / Prism Elite

Released: 1989
Chipset: Trident 8800CS
Support: CGA, Hercules, EGA, VGA, and SVGA
Memory: 256 KB (upgradable to 512 KB), 512 KB
Bus: ISA 8-bit or ISA 16-bit
Ports: 9-pin DSUB (mono TTL), 15-pin DSUB (RGB analogue)
Price: Unknown

In 1989, ATI launched their Prism series of VGA cards. With 256 KB and 512 KB versions available, as well as 8-bit and 16-bit variants, owners could get up to 1024 x 768 resolution in 16 colours, 800 x 600 in the same, or 640 x 480 in 256 colours. It also supported up to 132 columns in text mode by 60, 44, 30 or 25 rows.

VGA Wonder +

Released: 1990
Chipset: ATi 28800-2, 28800-4 or 28800-5
Support: CGA, Hercules, EGA, VGA, and SVGA
Memory: 256 KB, 512 KB or 1 MB DRAM
Bus: ISA 16-bit
Ports: 15-pin DSUB (RGB analogue), Bus mouse, VESA feature connector
Part #: 1090010401, 109009500, 1090010910, 1090012220
Price: Unknown

In 1990, the VGA Wonder + was launched, based on their new 28800 chipset which claimed to offer speeds rivalling VRAM-based cards. Dual page mode memory access, and dynamic CPU/CRT interleaving.

VGA Integra

Released: 1990
Chipset: ATi 28800-2
Support: CGA, Hercules, EGA, VGA, and SVGA
Memory: 512 KB DRAM
Bus: ISA 16-bit
Ports: 15-pin DSUB (RGB analogue), VESA feature connector
Part #: 109P014210
Price: $189 (list price), $129 (Feb '92)

Also launched in 1990, the Integra was a cost-reduced version of the VGA Wonder+ and shared the same new 28800 chipset. It has a much smaller PCB with surface-mounted BIOS and RAMDAC chips. It lacks the bus mouse connector. This card supports SVGA 72 Hz refresh rates, and comes with 512 KB DRAM as standard.

"It just does not make sense to buy a plain-vanilla VGA display adapter anymore. Not when there are cards like the VGA Integra from ATI Technologies. ATI is well known for its hot-rod high-resolution adapters, but this little gem comes with an equally small list price of $189 - all the more attractive because ATI products are frequently available at discounted prices.

Based on ATI's own proprietary chip set and designs, the VGA Integra is as small as its price, just barely longer than its ISA bus 16-bit edge connector, and only about half as tall as the standard expansion card bracket, which carries the 15-pin video cable connector. Unlike some of the other cards included in this review, this adapter still makes room for a VGA pass-through connector at the top of the board - a feature required by many add-on high-resolution display adapters that do not provide their own VGA support.

You are not likely to need any other adapters, however, if you start with the VGA Integra. It provides 256-color support at 800-by-600 resolution and a 16-color 1,024-by-768 noninterlaced mode. Part of the reason for its low cost is the VGA Integra's ability to manage these high resolutions with just 512K of onboard memory.

Another reason for the lower price is that the card does not sport as sophisticated a design as some of its competitors. While it supports a 72-Hz vertical refresh rate for VGA and 16-color 800-by-600 modes, it can only manage 70 Hz when displaying 256 colors at 800-by-600 resolution. And for the 16-color 1,024-by-768 noninterlaced mode, it only offers a 60-Hz vertical refresh rate.

The VGA Integra also failed to keep pace with the fastest of the competition on most of the PC Magazine Labs' benchmark tests. While most of its times fell somewhere in the second half of the pack, the card came in last on all but two of the 256-color 800-by-600 Microsoft Windows tests. It did, however, excel at BitBlts in standard 16-color VGA mode, finishing in the top five for that test and indicating strong Windows graphics capabilities.

The low price does not come at the expense of support features, however. The documentation is exemplary, installation is a breeze, and ATI offers free technical support through phone, fax, and an electronic bulletin board system.

It budget constraints rank high on your list of decision criteria, or if you are simply buying a VGA system now but want the option of higher resolutions later without having to change cards, the VGA Integra is an excellent choice; other cards may be faster, but few offer such high resolutions at such an attractive price."

PC Magazine, September 1991



VGA Basic 16

Released: November 1990
Chipset: ATi 28800-2
Support: CGA, Hercules, EGA, VGA, and SVGA
Memory: 256 KB DRAM
Bus: ISA 16-bit
Ports: 15-pin DSUB (RGB analogue), VESA feature connector
Part #: 1090010400
Price: $75 (Feb '92), $75 (Basic 16, Jun '92), $89 (Integra, Jun '92)

The VGA Basic 16 was designed to be the budget offering based on their latest 28800 chipset. Its PCB layout is similar to the VGA Integra but it uses a cheaper RAMDAC.

It only supports the basic 60 Hz refresh rate VGA modes (same as IBM VGA standard from 1987), and came with only 256 KB DRAM which was not upgradable.


VGA Wonder 1024D

Released: November 1990
Chipset: ATi 28800-5 or ATi 28800-6
Memory: 512 KB or 1 MB DRAM
Bus: ISA 16-bit
Ports: 15-pin DSUB (RGB analogue), VESA feature connector
Part #: 109P014400, 1021440005

The XL24 and 1024[D] were a series of cost-reduced versions of several VGA Wonder models. They typically lack the bus mouse connector and/or the digital TTL output.

They are based around either the ATi 28800-5 (Revision 5) chip from 1990 (also used on late VGA Wonder+ cards), or the later ATi 28800-6 (Rev.6) chip from early 1992 which was also used on the VGA Wonder XL24. These were ATi's second-generation Wonder graphics chip after the 188xx series used on the original VGA Wonder and VGA Wonder 16 cards.

The cards come with the capability of 1 MB onboard, via two banks of 512 KB DRAM chips. Factory 512 KB cards can be upgraded by simply addding four more DRAMs (80ns is typical).

More Images

The last image above is courtesy of Chris D.

VGA Charger

Released: 1991
Chipset: ATi 28800-2
Support: CGA, Hercules, EGA, VGA, and SVGA
Memory: 512 KB DRAM
Bus: ISA 16-bit
Ports: 15-pin DSUB (RGB analogue), VESA feature connector
Part #:109P014210
Price: Unknown

Similar to VGA Basic 16, but memory was doubled to 512 KB.

VGA Wonder XL

Released: May 1991
Bus: ISA 16-bit
Chipset: ATi28800-6
Support: CGA, Hercules monochrome, EGA, VGA, and SVGA
Memory: 256 KB, 512 KB or 1 MB DRAM (70ns or 80ns)
Ports: 15-pin DSUB (RGB analogue), VESA feature connector
Part #: 109P014310
RAMDAC: unknown (16-bit HiColor)
RAMDAC Speed: 80 MHz
VESA Standard: No
Known BIOS Dates: 09/24/91
Known BIOS Versions: 11201122030
Price at Launch: $229 (256 KB), $349 (512 KB), or $399 (1 MB).
Subsequent Prices: $259 (512 KB, Aug '91), $169/$229 (256 KB/1 MB, Feb '92), $169/$219 (256KB/1 MB, Jun '92)

The VGA Wonder XL got the Sierra HiColor RAMDAC which adds support for 15-bit colour in 640x480 @ 72 Hz and 800x600 @ 60 Hz.

Cards tend to come with 256 KB 80ns DRAM soldered-in with a further 768 KB capacity in DRAM sockets. These accept 70ns DRAMs.

"With menu-driven hardware and software driver installation, the ATI VGA Wonder XL is the easiest board to install and configure. Furthermore, it comes with a mouse port and a three-button mouse yet sells for a mere $259 on the street with 512K of RAM making it a clear Best Buy.

The VGA Wonder XL is the only board in this roundup to provide flicker-free 72-Hz screen refresh at all resolutions, even with a large, expensive, flicker-free monitor.
If you use PowerPoint or AutoCAD, however, you might want to consider a faster board. In our PowerPoint speed tests, the VGA Wonder XL fell far back in the field. In the AutoCAD benchmarks, it consistently ran in the middle of the pack.

The ATI VGA Wonder XL is an excellent board to have around as flicker-free high-resolution monitors get cheaper. It's a truly switchless board and has the smoothest driver installation of the bunch — a boon for those who frequently switch between DOS applications.

It's a distinct Best Buy, especially if you don't already have a mouse."

     PC World, August 1991


Technical Reference Manual

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Graphics Ultra

Released: 1991
Chipset: Mach8
Bus: 16-bit ISA
Memory: 512 KB or 1 MB VRAM (32-bit, 80ns)
RAMDAC: unknown (16-bit HiColor)
RAMDAC Speed: 80 MHz
Ports: 15-pin DSUB (RGB analogue), Bus mouse port
Part #: 109011541
Known BIOS Dates: 04/08/92
Known BIOS Versions: 113-11504-002
Price: $699/$899 (512 KB/1 MB), $419 (1 MB, Feb '92), $479 (1 MB w/VGA, Feb '92), $479 (1 MB w/VGA, Jun '92)

The first card from ATi to host their first 2D hardware accelerator chip - the Mach8. This was essentially a clone of the IBM 8514/A with a few notable extensions such as Crystal fonts. Being one of the first graphics accelerator chips on the market, the Mach8 did not have an integrated VGA core, i.e. it was just an accelerator card. In order to use the first Mach8 coprocessor cards, a separate VGA card was required. A temporary solution was presented with the ATi Graphics Ultra and Vantage cards, which combined an ATi 8514 Ultra and VGA Wonder+ into a single card (though using discrete ICs).

The mach8 (ATI38800) was ATI's first true Graphics Accelerator, providing hardware assisted drawing capabilities for 2D primitives like lines, rectangles and polygons. It was register compatible with the IBM 8514/A Display Adapter. Thus any applications or drivers that supported the 8514/A would run on a mach8 without any modification. The mach8 also extended on the 8514/A specification. The mach8 did not have any VGA compatibility so a separate VGA controller was required for standard text and VGA modes. Some mach8 boards, like the GRAPHICS VANTAGE and GRAPHICS ULTRA included a VGAWONDER controller on the same board as the mach8 to provide this VGA support. The VGA controller had its own memory, completely separate from the mach8 accelerator's memory. mach8-based boards were produced in both ISA and Microchannel versions.

"At $899 for the 1-MB VRAM version, ATI's Graphics Ultra commands the highest price of the tested accelerators. Based on performance and bundled extras, the Ultra makes a strong case for justifying its price tag.

For example, the Ultra leads the field in two of the three performance tests. It ran six times faster than the ProDesigner II in the NotePad and PageMaker comparisons, and it boosted Ami Pro screen scrolls two times faster than the baseline board.

The Ultra teams a proprietary Mach 8 coprocessor, an 8514/A clone, with an on-board VGA controller for compatibility across the range of low and high resolutions up to 1024 by 768 pixels by 256 colors noninterlaced at 72 Hz. A mouse port and Microsoft-compatible mouse come standard with the board.

Unique among the tested products are the scalable screen fonts that ATI bundles with the accelerator. Like Adobe Type Manager and similar products, these fonts, called Crystal Fonts, produce high-resolution letters to make proofing and reading of small text easier. Apparent resolution increases, thanks to the antialiasing algorithm that adds shades of gray to smooth jagged edges of letters. ATI plans to offer a package of 35 additional Crystal Fonts and support for TrueType and Bitstream and Adobe font converters.

As I've already mentioned, the Ultra placed at or near the top in each of the performance tests. In addition, selected menus and repositioned windows appeared instantaneously after my mouse clicks. Less impressive, however, was the screen display. The board provided noticeable improvement in display quality over the ProDesigner II, but compared to other contenders in this review, the Ultra's display was lacking. Icons in Ami Pro were recognizable, but the scissors and other toolbox items looked blurry. Also, the boldfaced main menu text looked muddy, while the Roman fonts identifying applications in the Windows Program Manager were fuzzy."

     Byte, January 1992


Rough theoretical performance of this card is 10 MPixel/s pixel rate, and 0 MTexel/s texture rate. Memory performance is 40 MB/s. It blew away its competitors performance-wise upon its release in early 1992.

VGA Wonder XL24

Released: 1992
Chipset: Brooktree Bt481KPJ85 RAMDAC
Memory: 512 KB or 1 MB DRAM
Bus: ISA 16-bit
Ports: 15-pin DSUB (RGB analogue), VESA feature connector
VESA Standard: No
Part #: 1090014410

The XL24's RAMDAC adds support for Hi-Color and True Colour graphics modes.

Graphics Ultra Plus

Released: 1992
Chipset: Mach32
Bus: 16-bit ISA
Memory: 1 MB or 2 MB DRAM (32-bit, 80ns)
RAMDAC: unknown
Known BIOS Dates:
Known BIOS Versions:
Part #:
Price: $499 (2 MB version), $399 (1 MB version)

The Graphics Ultra+ provided up to 1024 x 768 in 65,536 colours, or True Color (16.7M colours) at 800 x 600 resolution. Like the Graphics Ultra, it came with a bus mouse port and was bundled with a 3-button 'inport' mouse.

"Both the ATI Graphics Ultra Plus and ATI Graphics Ultra Pro share virtually the same physical design, save for the type of on-board display memory. With 2MB of VRAM the Pro is priced at $799, while the Plus, with 2 MB of DRAM, list for $499. In addition, the Pro offers a maximum noninterlaced resolution of 1,280-by-1,024 pixels, while the Plus's display tops out at 1,280-by-1,024 interlaced.

The heart of both adapters is ATI's Mach 32 controller, a 32-bit accelerator that handles 64-bit instructions internally and includes a BitBlt engine, a 64-by-64 pixel hardware cursor, accelerated line draws, area fills, and a hardware cache.

Both of these adapters racked up impressive Windows test scores, with the Pro model pulling slightly ahead of the Plus with a Super VGA score of 6.42 megapixels per second (versus the Plus's 6.39). They also performed solidly in DOS, falling in the high side of the range for accelerator chips.

...the Plus exhibited none of the problems that plagued the Pro version. The Plus model did not include the memory-aperture feature and handily navigated all of the PC Labs' tests. Furthermore, Windows performance in high-color modes showed negligible degradation; the Plus turned in a WinMark test score of 5.69 megapixels per second - faster than most accelerators using only 256 colors.

Even without the bugs in the Graphics Ultra Pro, the Plus offers a better value for most buyers. Unless you absolutely need 1,280-by-1,024 noninterlaced resolution, the $300 savings is worth the slight decrease in performance, and Windows users shouldn't detect any difference between the two models.

As a rule, boards that used a given processor tended to have similar scores. The Pycon WinJet Edge, with C&T's 82C481 and Wingine chips, edged out the others on WinMark performance. Close behind were the two ATI boards, which used the ATI Mach32 chip; these were followed closely by the S3 801-based boards (the NDI Volante Warp10 and the STB PowerGraph X-24). Among boards using a given chip, the vendor's optimization techniques for its Windows drivers contribute most to performance differences."

PC Magazine, January 1993

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Graphics Vantage

Released: Early 1992
Chipset: Mach8 (ATi 38800-1)
Bus: 16-bit ISA
Memory: 1 MB DRAM (32-bit)
Price: $599, $499 (1 MB, Mar '92), $349 (1 MB, Jun '92)

Identical to the Graphics Ultra, but used DRAM instead of the faster VRAM.

The Graphics Vantage was a high-end graphics card by ATI, launched in January 1992. Based on the Mach8 graphics processor, the Graphics Vantage came with 1 MB of DRAM memory on the card.

Both the Graphics Vantage and Graphics Ultra cards came with a bus mouse port and were bundled with a Microsoft 400-dot-per-inch bus mouse. Neither card came as standard with a Sierra HiColor DAC.

Its price at launch was $599 USD, and reduced to $499 on 1st March 1992\. It was able to match its competitors such as the Diamond Stealth VRAM and Genoa WindowsVGA for speed.

"As expected, given their [Ultra and Vantage] identical VGA controller and amount of VGA RAM, the two ATI entries performed identically on PC Magazine Labs VGA Performance Tests - far faster than the S3-based entries overall. AutoCAD users will find that the ATI Mach 8 chip performs at generally middle-of-the-pack speed.

Under Microsoft Windows 3.0, results were more interesting. Across the board in 16-color mode, the Ultra and Vantage achieve performance indexes considerably lower than they are at 256 colors. An ATI spokesperson reports that the poor performance in 16-color mode is being remedied. Given that you must disable half the 1MB of memory on the Mach8 side to force the board to 16 colors under Windows and that performance in markedly better at 256 colors, however, seems moot: Leave the Vantage in 256-color mode under Windows and it will perform almost as well as its S3-based competition; leave the Ultra in 256-color mode and it will far surpass most of its S3-based competitors.

The allure of these boards only begins with speed, however. Given the boards' compatibility with the 8514/A at both the register- and applications-interface levels, you should have no problem convincing these controllers to run in accelerated modes with any remotely contemporary application. ATI also ships the board with a prime selection of drivers optimized for the Mach 8, including AutoCAD, CADkey, Lotus 1-2-3, Lotus Symphony, Ventura Publisher (GEM version), and Windows 3.0. OS/2 Presentation Manager drivers were due in January. Of course, the VGA side of the board maintains full VGA register-level compatibility.

The Ultra and Vantage are just as flexible when it comes to monitor refresh rates. Instead of allowing you one of only a few combinations across the available video modes, the ATI offerings come with a configuration utility that gives you a wide-ranging choice. Once you've specified the frequencies appropriate for your monitor, the utility writes these into EEPROM for future use. This task, as well as installation as a whole, is achieved without flipping so much as one DIP switch. ATI provides a menu-driven installation routine for provided applications drivers.

Those who have invested in a monitor capable of handling the VESA-recommended 72-Hz refresh rate should also appreciate the boards' ability to maintain it. (The ATI boards are not VBE-compatible, however). Unlike most of the competition, the Ultra and Vantage can drive the monitor at 72Hz across VGA, Super VGA and high-resolution modes without a proprietary driver. ATI claimed that it would support a 76-Hz refresh rate in 1,024-by-768 mode as of January.

For many buyers, however, the most appealing feature of these boards will be ATI's built-in Crystal Fonts capability for Windows 3.0. Crystal Fonts allows, among other things, truly readable text that is as small as 6 points - even on a 14-inch monitor - at the boards' top resolution of 1,024-by-768. With the help of the Mach8's built-in font-scaling support, it provides 13 fonts that can be scaled from 2 to 127 points in hardware, quickly and on the fly. ATI employs an anti-aliasing technology developed at MIT to smooth the characters' edges, making them appear nearly as sharp on-screen as they would on the printed page.

Of course, for those with a 20-inch monitor, for which readable text isn't such an issue, ATI also provides a Windows driver that uses small characters to leave more clean viewing space.

The Graphics Ultra and Graphics Vantage are not without their faults. One would guess, for instance, that most buyers would pass on the 400-dpi mouse for a drop in price. And how strong these offerings are when it comes to speed depends to a large degree on whether you're talking about the Ultra or the Vantage: The Ultra clearly wins against the S3-based competition, but it does so at a substantially higher price."
     PC Magazine, March 1992

Graphics Ultra Pro (ISA)

Launched: January 1992
Chipset: Mach32
Memory: 2 MB VRAM (64-bit)
Bus: ISA 16-bit, EISA, MCA
Part #: 1090018940
Price: $799 (Apr 1993 EISA version), later $599

The Graphics Ultra Pro supported the higher resolution of 1280 x 1024 in 65,536 colours at up to 74 Hz non-interlaced. It was also the only card in the Graphics Ultra line-up to also come in EISA and Micro Channel (MCA) variants.

It came with 2 MB of faster VRAM memory onboard and this used a 64-bit memory interface.

"For sheer speed in the EISA department, the ATI Mach 32-based ATI Graphics Ultra Pro, EISA Version, is still a leader on our tests; it scored 15.34 megapixels per second in 256-color Super VGA mode. Also, its AutoCAD total time of 54.15 seconds made it the third-fastest board we tested for this story [out of 32].

The EISA version of the Ultra Pro does not suffer from the memory aperture driver problems that beset the ISA version we tested in our issue of January 12, 1993. With 128MB of memory address space available for the EISA version, finding four contiguous megabytes for a linear-addressed display memory space isn't a likely problem.

If you don't expect to move beyond 1,024-by-768 with 256 colors, you may want to look at the ATI Graphics Ultra Pro, ISA Version. ATI claims that this board offers performance comparablto that of the EISA version, at these lower resolutions and color depths, and costs about $100 less."
     PC Magazine, April 1993

Being a single-slot card, its power draw is not exactly known. Its price at launch was 799 US Dollars. Rough theoretical performance of this card is 10 MPixel/s pixel rate, and 0 MTexel/s texture rate. Memory performance is 80 MB/s.

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Graphics Ultra Pro (PCI / VLB)

Launched: January 1993
Chipset: Mach32 (210688)
Memory: 1 MB or 2 MB DRAM (64-bit)
Bus: PCI or VESA Local Bus
Part #: 109-25400-20, 109-25400-45

The Graphics Ultra Pro PCI was a graphics card by ATI, launched in January 1993. The Graphics Ultra Pro (PCI) came with either 1 MB or 2 MB of DRAM memory and used a 64-bit memory interface. 1 MB cards could be upgraded to 2 MB by populating the other sockets.

The GPU operated at a frequency of 66 MHz with memory running at 83 MHz.

"ATI Technologies, Inc. is shipping a VESA Local Bus Windows accelerator board that enhances video playback.

The Graphics Ultra Pro VLB, like all Windows accelerators, speeds up graphics processing by off-loading graphics operations from the system CPU.

The board has special drivers that let it stretch small video images, increasing their apparent resolution without decreasing video frame rates. The drivers work with Indeo, RLE, and Video 1 video files.

The Graphics Ultra Pro VLB uses ATI's second-generation mach32 chip, which started shipping to OEMs about a month ago. The chip nearly doubles the performance of the company's first mach32 processor, according to ATI.

The Graphics Ultra Pro VLB offers resolutions as high as 1,280 by 1,024 with 256 colors and a refresh rate of 74 hertz. The card can also display 65,000 colors at a resolution of 1,024 by 768 with a refresh rate of 76 hertz. At a resolution of 800 by 600, the card can display 16.7 million colors with a refresh rate of 70 hertz.

The Graphics Ultra Pro VLB includes ATI's FlexDesk Control Panel that lets users control resolution, color, font, and virtual desktop size within Windows. When a user changes the resolution, the systems automatically restarts Windows. The software also lets users select among three power-saving modes if they have a monitor that complies with the Video Electronic Standards Association's Display Power Management Proposal.

The Graphics Ultra Pro VLB lists for $499 and comes with 2MB of video RAM."
     InfoWorld, August 1993


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The pic above is courtesy of DOS Days contributor Mike. The card came bundled in his Gateway 2000 P5-60 tower PC from January 1994, along with an Aztech Basic Audio 16 sound card.


Launched: 1995
Chipset: mach64 (264VT4)
Bus: PCI
Memory: 2 MB
Part #: 109-34000-00
Price: ?

Mach64 Software Development Kit
Programmer's Reference Guide


Launched: 1994
Chipset: mach64 (264VT2)
Bus: ISA 16-bit, PCI, VLB
Memory: 1 MB or 2 MB FPM or EDO RAM (64-bit bus).
RAMDAC: AT&T 20C408 or AT 168860/168860B/168875
DirectX Support: None.
Part #: 109-34000-00
Price: $229

The WinCharger was a cost-reduced version of the mach64 with an integrated RAMDAC.

The WinCharger was a performance graphics card by ATI, launched in November 1995. Rough theoretical performance of this card is 40 MPixels/second. Memory bandwidth is approximately 320 MB/s.

Mach64 VT2

Launched: 1996
Chipset: mach64 (264VT2)
Bus: PCI
Memory: 1 MB or 2 MB EDO RAM.
Part #:

This was ATi's last 2D-only card - as subsequent cards came with a graphics processor that could perform certain 3D functions in hardware.

3D Rage

Launched: 1996
Chipset: mach64GT
Bus: PCI
Memory: 2 MB EDO RAM (64-bit bus)
DirectX Support: 5.0
Part #:

The 3D Rage was the first '3D accelerator' graphics card by ATi, launched in April 1996.

The GPU runs at a frequency of 44 MHz with memory running at 57 MHz.
Theoretical throughput is 44 MPixel/s pixel rate, and 44 MTexel/s texture rate. Memory bandwidth is approximately 456 MB/s. This card suffered from slow EDO RAM compared to its competitor, the S3 ViRGE, which was first to the 3D market - the Rage only had a 32-bit memory path compared to the ViRGE's 64-bit wide path. 3D Rage also competed with the Diamond Stealth 3D 2000 and Matrox Millennium.

Apart from being on video cards, the 3D Rage graphics accelerator was also integrated into numerous desktop PC motherboards in late 1996/early 1997, including:

  • Acer Aspire Personal Solution and Ultimate Solution (2 MB VRAM)
  • IBM Aptiva C55 and S78 (2 MB EDO)
  • NEC Ready 9624 and 9628 (2 MB EDO)
  • Sony PCV-90 (2 MB EDO)

3D Xpression

Launched: 1996
Chipset: 3D Rage
Bus: PCI
Memory: 2 MB EDO (40ns) or 4 MB EDO
Part #: 102-38502-02
Price: $172 (Oct 1996)

The 3D Xpression card was the first to sport ATi's new 3D chip, 3D Rage. As I understand it, only the 2 MB version was available at launch, with the 4 MB one arriving a year later.

It retained the Mach64 architecture with integrated DAC and clock synthesizer, and added a 3D engine into the same chip.

Key features:

  • 57 MHz core
  • 2 MB EDO RAM

As a first-generation 3D chip it proved about as useless as offerings from Matrox and nVidia, with a very low feature set and was not fully DirectX- and Direct3D-compatible. Matrox ran a series of advertisements in October and November of 1996 which provided performance charts which showed their Mystique was much faster and full-featured than the 3D Xpression and the Diamond Stealth 3D 2000XL, and was the same price.

3D Rage II

Launched: 1996
Chipset: Mach64 GT-B (Rage II)
Bus: PCI
Core Clock Speed: 54 MHz
Memory: 2 MB or 4 MB SDR (with memory expansion module)
Memory Speed: 68 MHz
DirectX Support: 5.0
Part #: 109-38200-00

ATi launched their second generation 3D chip, the Rage II, with the Mach64 GT. This corrected all the mistakes made with the 3D Rage chip - with all critical 3D features now present and working. It redesigned its Mach64 core and added MPEG2 playback (DVD). Z-buffering was now implemented in hardware, as this was now a requirement of many Direct3D games.

"The 3D Rage I chips have shown up on just about as many motherboards as the ViRGE, including the Sony PC. But not content to rest on their laurels, ATI has already released a second generation, the 3D Rage II. Besides increased 3D performance, the Rage II pairs itself with ATI's ImpactTV chip, allowing for television output of all graphics modes 800x600 and less.
The Rage II supports all the 3D features called for by Direct3D including anti-aliasing. Also, the Rage provides the best video acceleration we have ever seen. X and Y interpolation is done flawlessly in hardware, allowing MPEG movies to be scaled to any size without problem. Using the TV output to display an MPEG stream full-screen onto a TV resulted in a picture indistinguishable from VHS.
For just $129 more, you can add a TV tuner/video capture card to create a very inexpensive multimedia station.
The 2D DOS and Windows performance of the Rage 2 is on par with the ViRGE, and the 3D has a slight leg up, but it is not in the same league as the Rendition- or 3Dfx-powered cards. But if you're interested in exploring video in/out applications, nothing else deals with it as well as the 3D Rage."

     NEXT Generation, February '97

Key features:

  • 54 MHz core
  • 68 MHz memory
  • 2 MB or 4 MB RAM
  • DirectX 5.0

3D gaming with a 2 MB card is very limiting. For it's time Rage II was feature-rich, but all members of the Rage II family suffer from perspective problems - some surfaces appear wavy instead of straight. Similar performance to S3 ViRGE/GX (released around same time) in average framerates on the 2 MB card - 4 MB should be better. AST shipped the 3D Rage II in their MS 51xx, 52xx, 62xx and 63xx desktop computers in 1997, as did IBM for their Aptiva range and Toshiba in their shortlived desktop ranges: Infinia and Equium.

For more details, go to my dedicated page for the ATI 3D Rage II series.

3D Xpression+ / 3D Xpression Plus

Introduced: December 1996
Chipset: Rage II
Price: $200 (4 MB)

A year after the short-lived 3D Xpression, 3D Xpression+ arrived, this time based around ATI's then-new Rage II chipset.

This added support for 16-bit hardware Z-buffer and a lot more Direct3D features including support for 4-bit and 8-bit compressed textures, bilinear and trilinear filtering, MIP mapping, alpha-blended transparency, and fog.

Cards with the original Rage II chip were usually named 3D Xpression+. The GPU operated at a frequency of 60 MHz, and memory ran at 83 MHz. Rough theoretical performance of this card is 60 MPixel/s pixel rate, and 60 MTexel/s texture rate. Memory bandwidth is approximately 664 MB/s.

According to a short review in PC Magazine in December 1996, the Xpression+ finished squarely in the middle of the pack on their WinMark 97, Winstone 97, and DirectDraw tests - roughly 30 percent slower than the top scorer, Diamond's Stealth 3D 2000XL. While its visual quality under Direct3D was good, performance was again lackluster: the Xpression+ was significantly slower than the roundup's top performer, Intergraph's Reactor, on every test.


Price: $250 (mid-1997)
Bus: AGP 2x

Introduced in November 1996 and designed for Windows 95, the All-In-Wonder series combined a graphics card with a TV tuner card in one. They started with the use of the Rage chipset, but later used the Radeon chipset. The All-In-Wonder name was used on such cards from 1996 up to 2008.

"ATI All-IN-WONDER is the 7-in-1 graphics, TV and multimedia solution for PC, delivering 3D, 2D and video acceleration with an intelligent TV tuner, video capture and TV display. It is designed exclusively for Microsoft Windows95(tm)**.

You'll enjoy outstanding 3D performance while playing games or adding 3D elements to design or multimedia projects. Plus get awesome 2D performance, ultra-high resolution, full-motion video and the ability to play games or do presentations on a big screen TV. The TV tuner lets you zoom in on the action, capture video from your TV or camcorder, watch PC video clips while still offering fast graphics.

ALL-IN-WONDER will even watch TV for you, unattended."

     ATI, 1997


ATi sold All-in-Wonders in the following configurations before using the same 'All-in-Wonder' moniker with a Radeon core:

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3D Rage II+ DVD

Launched: 1997
Chipset: Mach64 GT-B (Rage II)
Bus: PCI
Core Clock Speed: 60 MHz
Memory: 4 MB SGRAM (64-bit bus)
Memory Speed: 83 MHz (480 MB/s bandwidth)
DirectX Support: 5.0

A minor refresh over the 3D Rage II, the Rage II+ featured MPEG2 support as well as better 3D (30% better triangle performance over Rage II was claimed by ATI). All cards from this point on carried the 'A3D' logo.

The 3D Rage II+ DVD was a graphics card by ATI, launched in September 1996. It featureed 1 pixel shader but no vertex shader, 1 texture mapping unit and 1 ROP. ATI gave the 3D Rage II+ 4 MB SDR memory which used a 64-bit memory interface. The GPU operated at a frequency of 60 MHz with memory running at 83 MHz.

Display outputs include: 1x S-Video. 3D Rage II+ DVD is connected to the rest of the system using a PCI interface. Rough theoretical performance of this card is 60 MPixel/s pixel rate, and 60 MTexel/s texture rate. Memory bandwidth is approximately 664 MB/s.

In reality, the claimed improvements in the 3D architecture are not evident when playing games, so the only benefit you're likely to see from the Rage II+ DVD over the Rage II is more video RAM.

3D Rage IIC (AGP)

Launched: 1996
Chipset: Rage II
Bus: AGP 2x, PCI
Core Clock Speed: 60 MHz
Memory: 4 MB SDR (64-bit bus)
Memory Speed: 83 MHz (664 MB/s bandwidth)
DirectX Support: 5.0

Cards sporting the original Rage II chip were usually named 3D Xpression+ and came with 2 to 4 MB SGRAM.

The 3D Rage IIC AGP was a graphics card by ATI, launched in September 1996. It featured 1 pixel shader but no vertex shader, 1 texture mapping unit and 1 ROP. It came with 4 MB of SDR memory which used a 64-bit memory interface. The GPU ran at a frequency of 60 MHz with memory running at 83 MHz (bandwidth of around 664 MB/s).

Similar performance to S3 ViRGE/GX2, i.e. pretty poor! The core technology on this ATI card is better, but is let down by the slow core clock of 60 MHz and memory running at just 83 MHz. The Rage IIc's drivers eventually got nice and stable (not always the case with ATI's drivers - the earlier Rage II ones were poor). Rage II chipset can be considered a decent low-end architecture - insufficient fillrates for 640 x 480. Don't be fooled by how much ATI had of the 3D market in 1996-1997 - the Rage II chipset went out in droves, but was never considered a top performer.

3D Charger

Launched: 1997
Chipset: Rage II+
Bus: PCI
Core Clock Speed: 75 MHz
Memory: 4 MB SGRAM
Memory Speed: 83 MHz (664 MB/s bandwidth)
DirectX Support: 5.0
Part #: 109-38800-00, 109-48300-00, 109-49300-00, 109-49300-01, 109-52800-01, 109-61800-00

ATi launched the new Rage II+DVD chip on their new card, the 3D Charger which featured not only the new chipset but also MPEG-2 playback. The '+' part of the 3D chip was tweaked with ATi claiming 30% performance increase in small triangle rendering (over the Rage II chip). From this point on, all Rage chips carried the new 'A3D' logo emblazened on the chip. Unfortunately, improvements in real gaming cannot be noticed over the Rage II chip.

Key features:

  • New Rage II+ chip
  • 83 MHz memory speed and support for SGRAM
  • 4 MB now the standard minimum for ATI cards

Video Xpression+ / Mach64 VT4

Launched: 1998
Chipset: mach64 (264VT4)
Bus: PCI
Memory: 2 MB or 4 MB (with memory expansion module) EDO or SGRAM
Memory Speed: 62 MHz
Part #: 109-40600-10

This was ATi's last 2D card.

Key features:

  • Sharp, flicker-free refresh rates up to 120 Hz
  • Screaming 64-bit acceleration
  • Optional 'Intelligent TV' TV tuner add-on
  • 16.7 million colours
  • 1280 x 1024 maximum resolution

3D Rage Pro (AGP)

Launched: 1997
Chipset: Rage 3
Bus: AGP 1x or AGP 2x
Core Clock Speed: 75 MHz
Memory: 2 MB SDR (64-bit bus)
Memory Speed: 75 MHz (600 MB/s bandwidth) or 100 MHz (800 MB/s)
Direct X Support: 5.0
OpenGL Support: 1.1

The third generation in the Rage architecture, Rage 3 improved upon the Rage II with addition of motion compensation, and new 3D pipeline. Unlike Rage II that used the AGP bus but never really pushed its benefits, Rage 3 now fully supports the AGP 1.0 standard with 133 MHz speed pipelining when executing from system memory. The chipset features new triangle creation which takes the strain of doing this task off the CPU, perspective errors of the Rage II are gone, the texturing engine now has 4 KB of cache.

The 3D Rage PRO AGP was a graphics card by ATI, launched in March 1997. It featured 1 pixel shader but no vertex shader, 1 texture mapping unit and 1 ROP. ATI have the card 2 MB of SDR memory which used a 64-bit memory interface.

Works in Windows 3.1.
In Windows 3.11 these cards suffer from major font problems with the ATi card driver.

3D Rage Pro Register Reference Guide

3D Rage Pro Turbo (AGP)

Launched: March 1997
Chipset: Rage 3
Bus: AGP 2x
Core Clock Speed: 75 MHz
Memory: 4 MB SDR (64-bit bus)
Memory Speed: 75 MHz (600 MB/s bandwidth)
Direct X Support: 6.0
OpenGL Support: 1.1

Don't be fooled by the addition of the word 'Turbo' here - this was a marketing ploy which backfired badly on ATI in early 1998. ATI fooled the most popular synthetic benchmarks of the time using some dodgy driver code and stamped 'Turbo' on the chip to make it appear as though they'd invented a much better product.

The 3D Rage Pro Turbo was a graphics card by ATI, launched in March 1997. ATI gave their Rage PRO Turbo a decent 4 MB of SDR memory, which like the 3D Rage Pro used a 64-bit memory interface.

3D Rage XL/ XC

Launched: 1999
Chipset: mach64 GM (Rage 3)
Bus: AGP 2x
Core Clock Speed: 83 MHz
Memory: 4 MB or 8 MB SDRAM (64-bit bus)
Memory Speed: 125 MHz
Direct X Support: 5.0
OpenGL Support: 1.1

In 1999, ATI moved to a 0.25 micron manufacturing process, which reduced the die size of the Rage 3 chipset. The Rage XL and Rage XC cards which used this were basically Rage Pro Turbos with integrated TMDS for flat panels and added motion compensation.

Rage 128 Pro

Launched: 1999
Chipset: Rage 128
Bus: AGP 4x
Core Clock Speed: 125 MHz
Memory: 32 MB SDR (64-bit bus)
Memory Speed: 143 MHz
Direct X Support: 6.0
OpenGL Support: 1.2

The Rage 128 Pro was the successor to the Rage 128. It runs a core clock at 125 MHz and memory at 143 MHz. Comparable performance to nVidia Riva TNT2, Matrox G400 and Voodoo3 2000, it still falls short of the nVidia Riva TNT2 Ultra VG400 Max and Voodoo3 3500.

The Rage 128 PRO was a graphics card by ATI, launched in August 1999. It now featured 2 pixel shaders but no vertex shader, 2 texture mapping units and 2 ROPs. Rough performance of this card could reach 236 MPixel/s pixel rate, and 236 MTexel/s texture rate.

Does not work in Windows 3.1.

Rage 128 Pro Ultra

Launched: August 1999
Chipset: Rage 128
Bus: AGP 4x
Core Clock Speed: 133 MHz or 118 MHz
Memory: 32 MB SDR (64-bit bus)
Memory Speed: 133 MHz or 140 MHz
Direct X Support: 6.0
OpenGL Support: 1.2

Rage 128 Pro Ultra cards were simply OEM versions of the Rage 128 Pro. These don't work on the standard ATI drivers without a change in the .INF file and deleting the line with the subsys code of 'generic rage128pro'.

Rage 128GL / Fury

Launched: 1998
Chipset: Rage 128
Bus: AGP 2x
Core Clock Speed: 103 MHz
Memory: 16 MB DDR (64-bit bus) or 32 MB SDR (128-bit bus)
Memory Speed: 103 MHz
Direct X Support: 6.0
OpenGL Support: 1.2
Price: £135 ex.VAT (All-in-Wonder 128, Dec 1999), £62 ex.VAT (Rage Fury 16 MB, Dec 1999), £95 ex.VAT (Rage Fury 32 TV-Out 32 MB, Dec 1999)

Also referred to as Rage 128 GL, or Rage 128 Pro GL.

16 MB cards support resolutions up to 1600 x 1200 in 65,000 colours, or 1280 x 1024 in 16.7M colours. In 2D modes, these cards support resolutions up to 1920 x 1200. The chipset included iDCT hardware acceleration, which takes the load away from the CPU when playing DVD movies. Cards based on the Rage 128GL usually came with bundled software including ATI's DVD player which used the Cinemaster Engine, known for its great MPEG2 playback results.

Models with this chipset include:

  • Xpert 2000 32 MB
  • Xpert 128 16 MB
  • Rage Fury 16 MB
  • Rage Fury 32 MB
  • ATI All-in-Wonder 128 16 MB
  • ATI All-in-Wonder 128 32 MB

WARNING: The drivers for this card as well as the ATI Rage 128 were pretty bad.

Radeon 7000-series

Launched: April 2000
Chipset: R100
Bus: AGP 2x
Core Clock Speed: 183 MHz
Memory: 32 MB or 64 MB DDR
Memory Speed: 183 MHz (366 MHz effective due to DDR)
Direct X Support: 7.0
OpenGL Support: 1.3

The R100 was the first Radeon GPU from ATI, featured 3D acceleration based on DirectX 7.0 and OpenGL 1.3. All but the entry-level cards with this GPU offload host geometry calculations to a hardware transform and lighting (T&L) engine, a major improvement in features and performance compared to the preceding Rage design. The processors also include 2D GUI acceleration, video acceleration, and multiple display outputs. 'R100' refers to the development codename of the initially released GPU of the generation.

The first card to use R100 was the Radeon DDR, launched in Spring 2000. A slower SDR-memory card with 32 MB of memory was released in mid-2000 to compete with nVidia's GeForce2 MX.
There was also an OEM-only 32MB DDR card in 2000, called Radeon LE, which run at 143 MHz both in core and memory.

In 2001, the Radeon 7200 which had 64 MB SDR was released. After this, all R100-based cards were known as Radeon 7200 in keeping with ATI's new model numbering.

A cheaper variant of R100 called RV100 was launched in 2001. This was later renamed Radeon 7000. It has only 1 pixel pipeline, no hardware T&L, a 64-bit memory bus and no HyperZ. From a 3D performance perspective, it didn't fare well against nVidia GeForce2 MX.

Radeon 8000-series

Launched: August 2001
Chipset: R200
Bus: AGP 4x
Core Clock Speed: 275 MHz
Memory: 64 MB DDR*
Memory Speed: 275 MHz
Direct X Support: 8.1
OpenGL Support: ?

The R200 chipset features 4 pixel pipelines, each with 2 texture sampling units. It has 2 vertex shaders and a legacy Direct3D 7 TCL unit, marketed as Charisma Engine II. It was ATI's first GPU with programmable pixel and vertex processors, called Pixel Tapestry II, and was compliant with Direct3D 8.1

The first R200-based card from ATI was the Radeon 8500, launched in October 2001. It go a 275 MHz core and memory clock. A lower clocked version was released in early 2002 called Radeon 8500LE (250 MHz core and either 200 or 250 MHz memory clock).

*Later Radeon 8500 cards got 128 MB DDR RAM, which also got a small performance boost due to a memory interleaving mode.

Sound Cards

Stereo F/X series        

Released: 1992
Video Chipset: ATi 28800 (VGA Stereo F/X only)
FM synthesizer chip: Yamaha YM3812 (OPL2)
Support: VGA, and SVGA (VGA Stereo F/X only)
Memory: 512 KB or 1 MB DRAM
Bus: ISA 16-bit
Ports: 15-pin DSUB (RGB analogue), 15-pin DSUB (audio in/out)
Price: $449 (launch price, VGA Stereo F/X 512 KB), $499 (launch price, VGA Stereo F/X 1 MB), $95/$139 (Nov 1993, Stereo FX/ Stereo FX CD)
BIOS Chip: TMS27C256 (or pin-compatible)
Known BIOS Versions: 02.09

The VGA Stereo F/X combined a VGA Wonder XL with a Sound Blaster 1.5 onto a single 16-bit ISA card. It features 'fake' stereo sound when playing back mono sound files, believed to be achieved by separating frequencies and playing different ones back on left and right channels.

The card's faceplate has a mini-DIN port which is for a Microsoft InPort mouse, the lower connector is the VGA video output, and the one at the top of the faceplate is for audio output, which uses a proprietary dongle. If you are missing this dongle the main audio pins are as follows: pin 2 is Audio-R, pin 11 is Audio-L, and pin 26 is GND.

The two [usually] empty sockets near the top-left of the card are for Creative Labs' optional CMS chips (Philips SA1099).

The 512 KB version gives you 640 x 480 and 800 x 600 resolutions in 256 colours and 1024 x 768 in 16 colours. The 1 MB version gives you 1024 x 768 in 256 colours. At the lower resolutions of 640 x 480 and 800 x 600 this card supports 32,768 simutaneous colours with its use of the Sierra Hi-Color RAMDAC chip. The VGA Stereo F/X supports up to 72 Hz refresh rates but you needed the full 1MB DRAM version for this to work in SVGA modes.

It has a real OPL2 chip but can also use Creative's CMS chips, making it CMS-/Game Blaster-compatible if you install these. All settings such as base address, IRQ and DMA channel are stored in an EPROM chip, so there are no jumpers to configure on this board. The utility disk contains a config program. It's a very loud sound card (audibly), as all sound is output through an onboard 8-watt amplifier.

Two other versions of this were released the same year:

The Stereo F/X, unlike the VGA Stereo F/X was just the sound card portion (no VGA capability). On its faceplate were two 3.5mm jacks - one for audio in, one for audio out), and a 15-pin game port. The audio aspects of the card were the same as that found on the VGA Stereo F/X - compatible with the Ad Lib and Sound Blaster standards, with an 8-bit ADC for 44.1 kHz mono or 22.05 kHz stereo output. I don't believe the game port is MIDI UART-compatible - if this is incorrect, let me know.

ATI Stereo F/X CD lacked the Creative Labs CMS chip sockets but gained a 40-pin Mitsumi CD-ROM interface header, a 4-pin PC speaker header, and a CD Audio 26-pin header. It also replaced the proprietary audio port with 3.5mm jacks. Unlike the other two however, the audio part of the Stereo F/X CD was a more enhanced 20-voice FM Music Synthesizer (4 operator OPL3), replacing the 11-voice OPL2 of the other two models. The Stereo F/X-CD has no jumpers - it's configured entirely via software. It came bundled with a cable for re-routing the PC speaker through the Stereo F/X CD card. The two provided 5.25-inch floppy disks included Universal DOS and Windows drivers, plus a few other useful tools including a mixer. These include WinDAT and DOSDat - written by Voyetra Technologies, they provide an interface similar to the controls on a stereo system or high-end tape deck. In November 1993, ATI announced their new CD Sound Dimension Multimedia Upgrade Kit ($399), which included a Mitsumi CD-ROM drive, the Stereo F/X CD sound card, and a number of applications on two CD-ROMs.

I believe the video/audio BIOS ROM firmware is the same across all three models of the card. This is stored in a 28-pin DIP EPROM chip which is a Texas Instruments TMS27C256 or equivalent.

Summing Up: Looking at the two 'audio only' models, the Stereo F/X is the budget model with only 11-voice OPL2 output, so the Stereo F/X CD is the one to go for out of this pair with its 20-voice OPL3 compatibility.

For drivers and utilities for this card, go to the ATI Downloads page.

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