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ATI RADEON 9600-based graphics card with 64-bit memory bus emerged for sale in Japan last weekend. The graphics cards use simple PCB design and cost starting from $125. This seems to be ATI Technologies’ answer to NVIDIA’s GeForce FX 5200, the only DirectX 9.0-supporting GPU in sub-$100 market segment.

Akiba PC Hotline reports that there are a number of models, including a one from Gigabyte, based on RADEON 9600 VPU and equipped with 128MB of DDR SDRAM memory with 64-bit bus. Core and memory clocks of such devices are just like they are meant by ATI Technologies – 325MHz for core and 400MHz for memory. As it is easy to understand, peak memory bandwidth slumps dramatically due to 64-bit memory bus and such RADEON 9600-based graphics card will probably be too slow to play modern games with high quality graphics.

I believe that performance of the RADEON 9600 with 64-bit memory bus is higher compared to a graphics card powered by NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 with 64 or 128-bit memory bus, but is lower than offered by a product based on NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 Ultra. Given that the RADEON 9600 with 64-bit memory bus graphics card costs $125 in Japan and will cost $100-$110 in other countries, I strongly do not think this is a good buy for gamers at this price point.

In case you are getting a RADEON 9600-based graphics card, you should carefully examine it. If there are only four TSOP memory chips onboard, or there is a lack of memory chips, there is a high possibility that you hold a graphics card with 64-bit memory bus and should ask retailer to determine the width of memory bus. In any case, you will be able to play some games on it and even view some DirectX 9.0 demos using RADEON 9600-powered graphics card with 64-bit DDR SDRAM, but there is no sense to get such product for $100 or above.

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