First off, congrats to Nvidia on taking the speed crown again. Well deserved effort.
Secondly, as for Ati: I wouldn't call this a mistake on their part. No company can stay on top of such a competitive industry all the time.
Nvidia is a decicated company with a huge amount of revenue to throw at being number one. It was only a matter of time.
What I've found interesting is the benchmarks on firingsquad that show an overclocked 9800 PRO (at 420 Mhz) is more than capable of going toe to toe with an overclocked GeforceFX 5900 ultra (at 491 Mhz).
I don't think Ati needs to release a whole new core architecture just yet. But I think upcoming R360 (An enhanced R350, taped out in June I think?) should have been on a 13 micron process. It's just clockspeed that's holding the R3xx architecture back now...
I'm very interested in seeing what the 15 micron R360 core can do. I'm not expecting more than a few small features/updates... maybe an Ati version of the NV35's shadow optimizations?
But I do think that if the R360 was based on a 13 micron process, it could clock high enough to give NV35 a heap of trouble. I'm trying to figure out why Ati would have stuck with 15 micron when they seem to have had success with the 13 micron process already (the RV350)?
The only thing I can figure is that transfering a chip design to a different process is a great deal more work that I would guess. That, or Ati didn't think the NV35 would be as much of a threat as it is...
or the third option: The R360 modifications really kick major ass, even at lower clockspeeds?
I'm anxious to see how ATI handles the heat. Either they come out as you said & toss back some real power at the FX 5900 U or be content where they are now. Lets face it for years they were contented to ride in Nvidia's shadow. So I want to see if they step up to the plate & take a home run swing or hope for walk instead. I think it's more important for them at this point than Nvidia redeeming itself.
Hopefully after that (regardless of who ends up with the speed crown) they both move on to the next generation of arch. This was a necessary move for nvidia since they had *nothing* that could realistically compete anywhere... but now they both need to move along to the next generation and quit playing the 5% game. I really look for ati to release a 9900 pro uber rice burner 2 version of the card prolly ddr-ii & smaller process... then nvidia will come out with the ddr-ii version of theirs+higher clock... and then the bastards had best get on to the new damn cards.