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ATI Technologies has been selling its mainstream RADEON 9500 and 9500 PRO graphics cards that are based on the famous R300 VPU, the same VPU as utilised on the high-end RADEON 9700 and 9700 PRO products, for quite some time already. Even despite of the fact that it may not be reasonable to sell graphics chips with eight rendering pipelines as mainstream graphics processors, in order to expand the market share and be able to offer variety of different solutions ATI does sell its expensive graphics products for relatively low price.

As we know, one of the reasons to utilise 0.13 micron process technology is manufacturing costs. Average cost of 0.13 micron chip is lower than the cost of the same processor made using 0.15 micron process technology. So, ATI’s RADEON 9600 aka RV350 VPU unveiled this month is considerably cheaper than the R300 VPU since the former has only four pipelines and is made using 0.13 micron technology, while the latter implements eight rendering pipes and is made using 0.15 micron technology. Advantages the RV350 brings to ATI are obvious: lower costs and DirectX 9.0 support can help ATI’s market share to skyrocket if there are enough such products. Unfortunately for the Markham, Ontario-based company, its RADEON 9600 aka RV350 is delayed due to unknown reasons (see our yesterday’s issue), meanwhile the competitor is ready to flood the market with its GeForce FX 5600 and 5200 products. Since ATI still needs inexpensive DirectX 9.0 solutions to deliver its clients it seems that the company has decided to simply install the R300 on all graphics cards of the Spring lineup. As this German web-site points out, Medion, who ordered ATI powered graphics cards from MSI earlier this year (see this news-story) now offers the so-called RADEON 9600 TX graphics cards based on the same R300 chip as all ATI’s previous DirectX 9.0 solutions because ATI has not started to sell its RV350 VPUs so for.

Medion RADEON 9600 TX graphics card identifies itself as the RADEON 9600 TX, though, not the RV350, but the R300 chip is mentioned in the drivers.

As you see from the picture, PCB design for the Medion RADEON 9600 TX is not as complex as PCB design for the original RADEON 9500 or RADEON 9500 PRO, hence, the card itself should not cost too much. The only concern is basically the chip itself. In case ATI has high yield of its R300 and the price of one chip is not so big, the company will be able to make profit selling such graphics cards as mainstream solutions. In case the cost of R300 is high, ATI will loose money. We will never know if one of the statements is right or wrong, but I believe that the truth hides somewhere between: the R300 is cheap enough to offer even as low-end solution, but the gross margin of such product will be low.

Unfortunately, the full specifications of the RADEON 9600 TX from Medion (or should I say MSI?) are not unveiled at this time, but as we may see from the picture, the part is equipped with a couple of D-Sub connectors and S-Video/RCA TV-Out. Price is also unknown, but I assume it is low-enough.

PS. I wonder if we can transform the RADEON 9600 TX into a fully functional RADEON 9500 PRO.


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