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The main add-in-card manufacturing and distribution partner of ATI Technologies, Sapphire Technologies, announced that it would release RADEON X1800 XT 512MB-based graphics card with increased clock-speeds. The move is set to improve competitiveness of ATI’s flagship chip against NVIDIA’s. Furthermore, Sapphire considers releasing a BIOS for those boards, which would allow already sold boards to gain performance.

“Sapphire just announced a Performance Edition of the top of the range RADEON X1800XT – a pre-overclocked version which will deliver stunning performance,” reads a statement from the company. The release, unfortunately, does not list either price or availability dates for such product. Peculiarities of the graphics card, such as cooling system, are also unknown.

ASUSTeK Computer has also announced overclocked RADEON X1800 XT-based graphics card with speeds similar to what Sapphire offers.

Sapphire RADEON X1800 XT Performance Edition will clock the visual processing unit (VPU) at 700MHz and 512MB of memory at 1600MHz. The graphics card is likely to deliver exceptionally high performance for customers who would like to get such a product. But given the fact that Sapphire usually offers BIOS versions for all of its products at its web-site to customers, availability of BIOS for “Performance Edition” board would allow to pump up performance of already purchased RADEON X1800 XT graphics boards.

“Current owners of the RADEON X1800 XT graphics cards will be happy if they flash their current cards. I see about 50% managing the overclock clock-speeds,” said a source familiar with Sapphire Technologies’ plans.

However, the source stressed that Sapphire would not change “anything the user has”, but customers are likely to download and flash those BIOS versions on typical graphics cards. Sapphire, on the other hand, would “not give a guarantee one these cards”.

Typical overclocking of graphics cards using special utilities that allow increasing clock-speeds in all situations. But the latest revisions of ATI RADEON X1800-powered boards applies different speeds to VPUs and memory in 2D and 3D modes, which is valuable, as graphics cards do not require extreme performance in the former case and there is no need for it to work at exceptionally high frequencies. Flashing a BIOS from a card that works on relatively low speeds in 2D and high-speeds in 3D would solve the issue.

ATI Technologies’ RADEON X1800 XT 512MB graphics card earlier this year beat nearly all performance records in currently shipping games leaving behind NVIDIA’s flagship GeForce 7800 GTX product. However, NVIDIA Corp. recently managed to update its lineup with the GeForce 7800 GTX 512 that featured very high clock-speeds and increased amount of memory, which helped the company to dethrone ATI’s offering. Currently the GeForce 7800 GTX 512 is the fastest performing gaming solution on the planet.

To date, the RADEON X1800 XT is 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.

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