ATI’s Dangerous Eyeballs

I purchased a new, fanless ATI All-In-Wonder (“2006 Edition”) video card. My primary goal was to replace an old ATI Radeon 8500 video card cooled by a jet engine-powered fan which completely defeated the purpose of having a quiet, small form factor desktop computer.

I have approximately zero interest (or knowledge) in the technical underpinnings of 3D graphics programming. But since the AIW-2006 is apparently based on an ATI Radeon 9600 — which is 1100 better than my previous card — I wanted to see how much prettier the graphics could possibly be (the old card ran Doom 3 and Far Cry demos tolerably well). A number of the included demos mention “X800” and “X850” which I believe are the latest generation ATI chipsets. Anyway, I fire up the first demo entitled, “Dangerous Curves”. It’s pretty much a run-of-the-mill gratuitous action sequence. But I thought the designers had a curious “vision” of the vignette’s protagonist:

Captain Eyeballs
Captain Eyeballs makes his(?) daring escape

I was led to believe something was amiss which the graphics screen was overlaid with a series of errors messages, also dumped to a text file, along the lines of “[SSGenericAPI_D3D.cpp] (line 1256): Can’t compile HLSL pixel shader. The D3D error message is: (1706): error X5608: Compiled shader code uses too many arithmetic instruction slots (69). Max. allowed by the target (ps_2_0) is 64. [oRubyHelmetSk.ssh] (line 329): Error creating Pixel Shader”

Fortunately, the bonus DVD also included the MPEG of the rendered 3D sequence (you can download either the demo or the movie here). It turns out there is supposed to be more to detail to our hero(ine):

Dangerous Curves
Ah, that looks a little less unsettling