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Rage Pro Chipset Information
The ATI Rage Pro chipset is probably the oldest 3d chipset still in widespread production and still being used in upcoming products. Definitely not a good thing for any end user. There are a number of variants to this chipset, most of which are minor alterations to the original Rage Pro. Alterations include changes in clock speed, inclusion of an IDCT (Inverse Discrete Cosine Transform) engine and integration of memory onto the chip. Below is a listing of some Rage Pro derived chipsets and cards.
Rage - Pro, LT Pro, XL, XC
Mobility - C, EC, L, M, M1, P
All in Wonder Pro, Xpert 98, Xpert LCD, Xpert@Play 98, Xpert@Work, Xpert@Play.
ATI's drivers have always been shaky for this card. Additionally, ATI has officially ended support for the desktop Rage Pro line of cards with the last official driver release. However, drivers from the newer chipset revisions will work flawlessly with the older cards. As is clearly seen with the generic Windows 2000 and Windows Me drivers, one driver is used for all of the above chipsets. Thankfully, ATI still seems to be supporting the Mobility chipset.
The Rage Pro supports a few interesting features.
MultiMonitor (Extended Desktop) - The Rage Pro has the ability to display different images over multiple monitors at different resolutions and refresh rates. This feature is not supported under Windows 2000 due to Microsoft directives. It is fully supported under Windows XP when using the latest drivers.
OpenGL and Direct3d - Contrary to some opinions, both work quite well on the Rage Pro. Just do not expect all of the features that are available on a GeForce 3 or a Radeon. Some game designers are no longer supporting the Rage Pro, so there will be issues with some games.
Motion Compensation - this uses a prediction algorithm implemented by the video chipset to reduce the amount of decoding done by the processor during video playback. This reduces processor usage and is most useful for DVD playback, where CPU usage can almost be cut in half.
eg. Pentium 2 400MHz system with an AGP2x Rage LT Pro /4MB. Windows 98.
DVD- The Matrix
Full CPU playback - 70% processor usage
With Motion Compensation - 40% processor usage
DirectX Video Acceleration (DXVA) is supported under the latest Windows 98/Me/2000 drivers. DXVA can be considered the DirectX of hardware video assist, and I expect it to have a similar impact. Less code is required from software developers, and hardware developers have Microsoft support for enhanced video features. Most of the major players in the software decoder market appear to be supporting DXVA in their latest product releases. Mobility users appear to have working DXVA support, but the desktop versions of the Rage Pro and the Rage LT Pro do not appear to support DXVA while using Mobility drivers. However, 9x users will still have DVD acceleration through the previous ATI format.
Seeing that ATI has done a poor job at providing drivers for the Rage Pro based cards, I have taken it upon myself to release updated driver sets for this old graphics chipset. The ATI Mobility Driver Team provides drivers to their OEM partners such as Compaq, Dell, HP, IBM and NEC. These drivers, as claimed by ATI, are customized for each OEM. As such, they release the drivers to the OEM suppliers so that users will get the correct driver from their respective OEM. Experience with Rage Pro/Mobility drivers has shown that they are interchangeable, and the only differences in the drivers are in the setup information file (*.inf). Usually the differences are the inclusion of Non-Standard modes and Restricted Modes. OEM releases are modified by adding support for the range of Rage Pro based cards. This is done by adding the hardware identification strings to the inf. Software settings are also altered to improve performance and increase the number of features available.
Rage Pro Chipset links -
Windows 2000/XP Driver Information, Development and Downloads
Windows 98/Me Driver Information, Development and Downloads
Issues on the Rage Pro
Particle effect do not fade - Rage Pro cannot do alpha modulate. (Clive Barker's Undying)
Blending artifacts (white fog instead of transparency) - driver issue that can be overcome by chhanging the coding of the application. (Half Life, American McGee's Alice)
Dark textures - hardware issue that can be overcome by changing the coding of the application. (Max Payne)
Problems blending paletted textures - Rage Pro cannot do texture blending on paletted textures.
Pixelated Alpha Channels (blocky smoke/fog) - Rage Pro cannot bilinear filter textures that have alpha.
Thanks goes out to Michael Krause for his contribution.
Visit this Ravisent link for an article detailing some video display technologies.
Glide games on the Rage Pro
To get Glide based games to run, a Glide wrapper is required. The glide wrapper converts Glide calls into Direct 3D or OpenGL calls. Glide wrappers are named glide2x.dll. This file must be placed in the path of the game or application that requires it. If the game or application does not install due to lack of glide support, copy glide2x.dll to your system directory and retry. This usually solves most installation and graphics issues. A Google search is the best place to locate a glide wrapper. I have had good results with XGL 200.
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