From my perspective as an application's developer, however, the R300 has some fine print that makes it difficult to deal with:
- It features only 24-bit floating point precision (as opposed to 32-bit precision in all other shader-enabled hardware from ATI or NV). This is why the reflective water looks square and pixelated up close on these cards.
- It has a 96 instruction limit per shader (as opposed to the 1024 instruction or larger limit in all other shader-enabled hardware from ATI or NV.) X-Plane 9's current water shader is right on the bleeding edge of exceeding this limit. In fact, the water pattern is simplified for this set of GPUs to stay within the 96 instruction limit.
- Since the cards were really quite decent for their time, they are still in field and in use.
This shows up in X-Plane as a pile of special cases...X-Plane 9 productizes 2.5 renderers:
- A no shader renderer for old GPUs and buggy drivers.
- A shader-based renderer for modern hardware.
- A special-case on the shader based GPU to meet the limits of the R300.