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NVIDIA Corp.’s GeForce 7800 GTX 512 graphics card has managed to grab indisputable lead over ATI’s RADEON X1800 XT product released earlier this Fall. Since performance numbers and pricing are evident for both customers and ATI’s decision makers, the company has two choices right now: release the RADEON X1800 XT Platinum Edition product or wait till the code-named R580 chip expected to be commercially introduced in late-January – mid-February timeframe.

Wait for R580…

Sources close to ATI Technologies and familiar with the plans of the graphics giant suggested recently that ATI’s code-named R580 visual processing unit (VPU) will be commercially introduced in late January or early- to mid-February, 2006. The part which has been tested by ATI since July, 2005, is a revamped version of the currently shipping RADEON X1800-series VPU, which code-name is R520.

Unofficial information available over the Web hints that the R580 has 48 pixel shader processors, 8 or more vertex processors and works at high clock-speeds. The chip, however, is expected to have from 16 texture mapping units (TMU), less that could be expected. The product is to support Shader Model 3.0, ring-bus memory controller that supports GDDR4 memory type and other innovations. Earlier this year an Asian web-site published a slide entitled “ATI’s 90nm Technology Advantage” that described the company’s success with the 90nm process technology at TSMC manufacturer.

…Or Introduce RADEON X1800 XT Platinum Edition?

While the R580 is close enough, ATI may want to offer its clients something that beats the competitor’s GeForce 7800 GTX 512, which leaves no chances for the currently shipping model X1800 XT, straight away. Several web-sites, including German-based K-Hardware, have reported about ATI’s intention to unveil the RADEON X1800 XT Platinum Edition with the VPU clocked at 700MHz (up from 625MHz) and memory operating at 1700MHz (up from 1500MHz), much higher clock-speeds compared to the RADEON X1800 XT. Sources familiar with the matter doubted that ATI has plans to release any “Platinum Edition” products, still partners of the company may call their products with names whatever they like to and to overclock the boards as well.

RADEON X1800 XT is currently the highest-end product by ATI Technologies. The graphics processing unit features 16 pixel processors, 8 vertex processor, a brand-new architecture that supports Shader Model 3.0, high dynamic range (HDR) lighting and other innovations. Graphics cards based on the RADEON X1800 XT clock the chip at 625MHz and the memory on 1500MHz.

Officials from ATI Technologies did not comment on the matter.

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