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ATI Technologies and its add-in-board partners announced today their new graphics monsters – the RADEON 9800 XT and the RADEON 9600 XT – graphics cards with unbeatable performance in high-end and performance mainstream segments. The new solutions will eventually substitute the previous runners, dubbed RADEON 9800 PRO 256MB and RADEON 9600 PRO. More importantly, the new high performance graphics cards from ATI will be bundled with a free copy of Half-Life 2 game!

Generally, the RADEON 9800 XT is an overclocked version of the RADEON 9800 PRO with 8 rendering pipes and four geometry engines. There are some performance tweaks inside the processor, but they are not too tangible. The most important fact about the newcomer is its core-clock that finally surpassed 400MHz milestone and achieved 412MHz. That is lower than originally reported 450MHz, probably because the VPU’s yield at high core-clocks was not high enough at 0.15 micron fabrication technology. Graphics cards based on ATI RADEON 9800 XT VPU will feature 256MB of 730MHz memory as well as typical set of D-Sub, DVI-I and TV-Out connectors.

The RADEON 9600 XT brings the same technical specifications of the RADEON 9600 PRO VPU with 4 rendering pipelines, but with a bit boosted clock-speeds, up to 500MHz for core and 600MHz for 128MB or 256MB of memory.

Both new eXTreme 9600 and 9800 graphics cards will be supplied with the ATI OVERDRIVE software allowing adaptive clocking and increased user control.

ATI’s RADEON 9800 XT and RADEON 9600 XT will be available in high-end gaming systems from system builders like ABS, Alienware, CyberPower, Elite PC, Falcon Northwest, IbuyPower, MDG, Velocity Micro, Voodoo PC and ZT Group. Add-in-board partners and third party graphics card manufacturers will also be distributing products for retail, and for the OEM and white box markets. Board partners include ASUSTeK, Celestica, Connect3D, CP Technology, GeCube, Gigabyte, Hercules, Hightech Information System, Sapphire, VisionTek and Yuan.

MSRP for the RADEON 9800 XT is $499, for the 9600 XT - $199.

Be sure to read Anna’s report straight from the new ATI RADEON VPUs launch party ATI on Top at The Rock”.

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