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ATI Technologies chief executive David Orton said in a recent financial conference call that his company would launch its new high-performance visual processing unit (VPU) within the following 90 days. The claim confirms unofficial information about the R580 chip, which is due to be released in late January, 2006.

“Over the next 90 days, you will see us recapture the performance leadership from ourselves, with our R580 launch in Q2, delivering the most compelling multi-GPU graphics platform with CrossFire, and ramping OEMs with this solution in the quarter as well,” said Mr. Orton.

According to some sources with knowledge of the matter, ATI Technologies received the first commercial batch of R580 wafers several weeks ago. Sources close to the company suggest that ATI will be able to supply enough code-named R580 VPUs to fulfill the demand towards them.

The R580, , is a revamped version of the currently shipping RADEON X1800-series VPU, which code-name is R520, has been tested by ATI since July, 2005. Unofficial information 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 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.

The primary competitor for ATI’s forthcoming R580 is recently released NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GTX 512 product from the company’s arch-rival. Nevertheless, ATI is expected to release various versions of its R580 targeting different segments of the high-end graphics cards market. According to market sources, ATI is unlikely to price its R580-based products at unprecedented levels, e.g., the part will not cost $649, a suggested retail price for the GeForce 7800 GTX 512.

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