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ATI Technologies disclosed pricing of its recently announced graphics solutions for systems with AGP 8x interconnection. While the RADEON X800, X800 XL and X850 XT AGP graphics cards by ATI’s add-in-card (AIB) partners have virtually the same specifications as their PCI Express brethren, they cost a little bit more compared to the latter breed of products.

The recommended pricing for AGP 8x flavours of graphics cards based on the RADEON X800, X800 XL and X850 XT visual processing units (VPUs) is $249, $349 and $499 respectively. While pricing of the RADEON X800 and X800 XL products is $50 higher compared to pricing of PCI Express x16 versions of similar graphics cards, an ATI spokesperson noted that the RADEON X800 XL for AGP 8x features video-in/video-out (VIVO) capability not available on PCI Express version. Furthermore, the spokesman told X-bit labs that the company was going to have a special rebate program for North America, which would allow users to obtain the RADEON X800 for $199. The official declined to reveal details about the forthcoming deals.

ATI’s RADEON X800 and X800 XL AGP 8x graphics cards use R430 graphics chip that natively supports only PCI Express x16 bus. ATI’s AIB partners have to use ATI’s Rialto chip to translate PCI Express signals into AGP signals to make AGP 8x products based in the mentioned VPUs. The bridge chip itself and additional traces on graphics cards increase complexity and consequently the cost of graphics cards. ATI’s RADEON X850 XT graphics cards use ATI’s native AGP 8x chip code-named R481.

With the price increase of the AGP 8x models of the RADEON X800, X800 XL ATI’s AIB partners will still be able to offer products with performance approximately similar to NVIDIA’s GeForce 6800 or GeForce 6800 GT at slightly lower price points. Still, for the RADEON X800 there is a serious competitor – the GeForce 6600 GT AGP 8x, which may not be as fast as ATI’s offering, but is officially priced at $199 with actual pricing at certain stores much lower than that and widespread popularity among gamers in budget.

ATI’s RADEON X800- and X850-series products differ by the number of pixel pipelines – 12 or 16 – and core/memory speeds. All graphics processing units (GPUs) have similar feature-set and capabilities as well as 256-bit memory controller. In future, however, certain makers of graphics cards may address cost-sensitive markets with lower-grade X800 models with reduced number of pixel processors and 128-bit memory interface.

The first AGP 8x graphics cards with ATI RADEON X800, X800 XL and X850 XT visual processing units are expected to emerge in the retail by the end of March or in the early April, 2005, ATI Technologies said.

Currently ATI does not provide reference designs or guidelines for different “bridged” AGP 8x graphics cards and advices not to expect the RADEON X700-series products in the segment at least in the foreseeable future.

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