Chicago (IL) - Details of ATI's upcoming graphics chip generation begin to emerge ahead of the official product launch, which is expected to take place within a few weeks. The enthusiast site Hexus.net today published a complete list of R5xx brand names. Sources also told Tom's Hardware Guide that dual-graphics Crossfire board may be much more expensive than originally expected.
There has been speculation that ATI will be offering not just a single new graphics chip at launch date. Hexus' report now appears to confirm that ATI plans to put a whole armada of new graphic chips against Nvidia's GeForce 7800 series. The flagship model will be the X1800 model, which is likely to be based on a 700 MHz R520 chip. The mainstream model will be the X1600, based on the RV530 chip, the entry-level spot will be occupied by the X1300, based on the R515 chip. Sources told Tom's Hardware Guide that ATI may have even more chips up its sleeve for the months to come.
According to Hexus , ATI will also extend the "GT" brand and introduce GTO and GTO2 version of the X800 XL chip (12 and 16 pipelines, respecitively). The X850 will be retired with the launch of the R5xx series.
Along with the new graphics chips, Crossfire, ATI's multi-graphics chip technology is prepped for launch, according to sources. However, while Crossfire was expected up until last week to become a cheaper alternative to Nvidia's SLI, quite the contrary appears to be the case. Sources indicated that a typical, Xpress 200 chipset-equipped board, will not be priced below the $200 mark at launch.
Additionally, Crossfire master cards will not be quite what many users would consider cheap. As of now, most card manufacturers will price their X850XT master cards in a $390 to $430 range, XL versions will come in between $290 and $320 and lower end X800s around $200. At least pricewise, Crossfire is indicated to be a higher-end solution that leaves the mainstream completely to Nvidia: Entry-level SLI boards currently can be purchased in the $100 range, with some special offers even reaching to the $80 mark. There was no information on how Crossfire systems compare to SLI systems in terms of performance.
ATI's R520 silicon "fantastic" - sources