ATI is ready to unveil its R520 architecture at long last in the form of not one card, but an entire family! Does it have the power to unseat the 7800 series from NVIDIA finally?
Before you even start thinking about reading this article you should know that ATI has been between a rock and a hard place. Their current situation started with the release of the X800 XT Platinum Edition, continued on to the X850 XT PE and then trickled down to the land of CrossFire – the lack of product availability has been the main problem plaguing ATI even when their technology has had the advantage.
The X850 XT PE is a perfect example of this; when it was launched it was the fastest single graphics card the world has ever seen. The previous champion was the NVIDIA 6800 Ultra and even without fancy things like Shader Model 3.0 support, the new ATI X850 part was a breath of fresh air. Only it took way too long for the products to show up in the marketplace after the ‘launch.’ The world of NVIDIA’s SLI had become the buzz of the GPU market in the meantime and ATI again found themselves behind in terms of community approval.
Just about six months ago we were shown ATI’s answer to NVIDIA’s SLI in the form of CrossFire but we didn’t see the launch of these products until last week! And even today, I was still not able to find an X850 XT CrossFire card for sale online. Things have gotten worse for ATI in that six month period — NVIDIA has launched two new GPUs and had these new boxes for sale online the day the products were announced; an industry first.
ATI already knew they had to answer back with a new architecture and GPUs of their own that can keep up with the NVIDIA GeForce 7-series, but now they also have to have the availability to prove that this isn’t just another ‘paper launch’.
Can they do it? Maybe even a little?