SemiAccurate: ONE OF THE FEATURES of the upcoming ATI Evergreen family, also known as the 5-series, is a tessellator. While this might be old news to graphics card enthusiasts, this time it really is different, mainly because Microsoft is finally backing the technology.
ATI has been putting tessellators in its hardware for generations. The 2000 series was one of the first, but there have been bits and pieces like 3D normal map compression long before. Depending on how you count, Evergreen is either the fourth or fifth generation of the technology.
Most people count ATI's 2xxx, 3xxx and 4xxx as its first three generations of graphics cards with tessellators, but they forget the most important one, the Xenos/R500 in the Xbox 360. Tessellation was roundly ignored on the PC side of game development because it wasn't ubiquitous and lacked standards. Now with the Xbox 360 and DX11 both having the technology, it should mean an easy port from the Xbox 360 to the PC and back, right?