ATI launches 512 MByte X800 XL graphics card

Markham (ON) - ATI follows Nvidia with the launch of its first commercially available graphics card that is equipped with 512 MByte memory. The company however chose to load the additional memory onto a mainstream card and price it 50 percent less below Nvidia's 512 MByte card.

A new graphics chip generation is not too far out anymore, but both ATI and Nvidia believed it was time to increase the memory size on some of its graphics cards. Nvidia already announced a 512 MByte GeForce 6800 Ultra back in March and vendors have been shipping the devices since April. ATI also announced such a card, but decided not to go with the high-end 850 models, but rather with the mainstream 800s.

In fact, the only card that is available with half a gig memory is the X800 XL. "Adding memory always adds cost to a product. The X800 XL is still a high performing solution, but it allowed us to offer it at a lower price point," said ATI spokeswoman Patricia Mikula. ATI suggests a retail price of $450 for vendors - which is less than half of what a GeForce 6800 Ultra with 512 MByte currently goes for.

According to Mikula, ATI does not expect a lot of demand $1000 card - such as the Nvidia model - and promises to offer the new X800 XL in numbers corresponding to market demand. "There are no allocation problems of the chip or the memory," she said. Vendors will roll out the card over the course of May, according to Mikula.

In contrast, Nvidia appears to be quite successful with its strategy. John Malley, Director of marketing and PR of card manufacturer BFG said the 512 MByte card is not a high volume card, but the company could easily sell more, if it had more available - despite a suggested retail price of $1000. Availability of the cards is expectedly limited, but according to Malley, users would be able to buy such cards "today".

In regards of performance, ATI obviously intends to keep a distance to its high-end 850 versions, but Mikula said that the 512 MByte card could outpace the X850 XT with 256 MByte in certain applications, such as high-resolution applications. She also said that ATI will introduce a new generation of graphics chips "this summer" with high-end versions likely to carry 512 MByte memory standard.

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