Nvidia is punishing this highly successful brand by cutting them off from Geforce GTX 480 and 470 launch cards, and this is a direct result of XFX's last year's decision to to start selling ATI. Since Nvidia’s sales department doesn't know any better, this is the action the green company decided to take.
This is pretty big though, since they are only dealing with half their resources and buyres right now. I mean they've been with out Nv for what 6-8 months. I think this will show Nv not to F*ck around with companies. XFX didn't have problems, but think of all the NV only companies. I dont think they are happy either!
You might be right there might be some other factors, but I bet you this was the biggest.
I don't think XFX would really mind right now - both nVidia and XFX know that the profit margins on the GTX 470 and 480 are going to be pretty small. I know semiaccurate isn't a very good source, but according to them, GF100 GPUs aren't exactly cheap to make, and considering that nVidia has to sell it for a low price by nVidia's standards to compete with ATi, nVidia's either just breaking even or making a loss right now, so I'm pretty sure XFX doesn't care. Most of the money in the GPU market is the mainstream segment, and XFX may still make GTS 450s or GTX 460s instead.
Honestly though, I think XFX's decision essentially to jump from nVidia to ATi so soon was a bad one - IIRC remember they were nVidia only approximately a year ago. If the graphic card cycle continues as it always has, eventually nVidia will take the performance crown back, and probably sell some good mainstream cards as well. When nVidia does, XFX is probably going to have to beg on its knees to be able to sell the GTX 580 or w/e their next generation flagship is.
Whilst I do like my XFX cards I can't deny that they are not the easiest of vendors to deal with when it comes to choosing the card you want, I always found myself having to check the part number to make sure that the card I was buying was actually the right one as it didn't always seem that apparent on the box.
Neither company wants any bad press about the split IMHO, XFX does not want its enthusiast customers to think they aren't/can't carry the flagships models. Nvidia does not want people to think that it has something to do with one of XFX's features (warranties). IMO, its why XFX mentioned not carrying Fermi only in a press release announcing a 5970 custom model. And Nvidia is leaking their reason through Fudzilla ?
Who knows. I'm sure we'll see some dirty laundry aired about this in the next couple of days. Personally, I think that XFX may have felt it wasn't going to get sufficient quantities of the the high end stuff and that they didn't want to cut into their Radeon 5000 series margins to sell limited quantity GTX 470s and 480s. After all, the Radeon 5870 is still generally over MSRP.
Yeah, ATI is a little lacking in the warranties with its AIB's, but hey- XFX is good, and if things continue as they have been so far this year, I wouldn't be surprised to see some of the other AIB's move over to ATI.