ATI showed its AGP 8X Mobility Radeon 9600 graphics processors at CeBit yesterday.

The new mobile GPUs offer new memory technologies and support cinematic imagery at high performance levels. The products also offer hardware-based support for Microsoft DirectX, with programmable pixel and vertex shaders. The units are capable of delivering 12 pixel-shader operations per clock cycle.

ATI claims its new technology "outperforms the competitor's fastest mobile graphics chips, and astonishingly, delivers up to 50 per cent more performance than the fastest competing graphics processors in key benchmarks, including the industry standard 3DMark Pixel Shader 2.0 test".

The 3DMark Pixel Shader test is manufactured by FutureMark, which released a new version of the 2.5 million selling hardware diagnostic kit for PCs earlier this year.

ATI's vice president and general manager for its mobile and integrated products business unit Phil Eisler said: "The Mobility Radeon 9600 family is so far ahead of the curve that for the first time, we see mobile graphics processors that deliver cinematic imagery, performance and features superior to the competitor's highest-end desktop products.

"ATI is building a commanding lead in both the desktop and mobile spaces, and has again delivered world-class visual processors to the market," he said.

As ATI does not manufacture its own cards any more, the new technology is available to third-party manufacturers (OEMs), such as Apple, to build into their products.

The company's product offers hardware acceleration for encode, decode and de-blocking of MPEG-2 and streaming-video formats. It also integrates an HDTV decoder, so users can output graphics to wide-screen HDTVs.

It supports DDR2-M memory, which offers fast memory and longer battery life. The specification for this technology was developed by a team of ATI engineers, who worked with memory vendors. Up to 128MB of memory can be integrated onto the chip.

The technology itself is manufactured using a 0.13 micron process. Low power requirements stem from the product's use of a 1W core voltage - consumption falls as low as 0.5W when the GPU is idle.

The Mobility Radeon 9600 uses ATI's SmartShader 2.0 technology. First generation SmartShader technologies were announced in July 2001. It was developed to reduce the gap in visual quality between TV and computer screens. The second generation of this technology offers movie-quality effects, and full-precision floating-point colour.

The new graphics processor has intelligence built-in. It hosts its own thermally controlled over-clocking system using an on-chip sensor that will scale speeds on the fly - while matching those speeds to the notebooks "thermal environment". In other words: the chip runs as fast as it can, when it can, and has safeguards to prevent meltdown.

Memory handling has been improved with HyperM. This is really a collection of memory-bandwidth optimizing technologies that help improve graphics performance and preserve battery life. It supports lossless compression technologies for better visual quality and performance.

ATI's SmoothVision 2.1 feature uses six unique texture samples per pixel (with patented gamma correction), with 16 speed anisotropic (texture) filtering. This enhances image quality by removing jagged edges and bringing out fine texture.

Finally, the new graphics processors offer ATI's newest power-management technology to extend battery life by dynamically adjusting clock speeds and other settings based on user activity. This is called PowerPlay 4.0.

Both a Pro and a standard version of the Radeon 9600 will be available. Initial products hosting the technology will appear this spring from some PC manufacturers.