With ATI taking a plunge into the high-performance hardware realm, it has to deal with a different crowd than it ever has before, which consists of gamers, tweakers and power users. The competition difference between the OEM businesses they have and the high-performance market is much different. Where OEM's care mostly about price-performance, the high-performance market cares about - you guessed - it, speed. Let's take a look at the competition from each company.
The current competitive product from 3dfx is the aging Voodoo3 3500 that offers good 16-bit performance, TV tuner, Glide and competitive driver support. However it lacks 32-bit color 3D and T&L like the upcoming competition. Also from 3dfx we're still waiting for their upcoming next generation chipsets that will surface around March sporting "untouchable" fill-rates, 32-bit 3D color support and insane power-user configurations (4 graphics chips on a board with memory sizes up to 128 MBs). I don't care much for speculating this early on their next generation chipsets but I do know that they're not sitting on their laurels.
With the G400 and G400 MAX, Matrox has been offering a competitive solution at a slightly cheaper price range than the Rage Fury MAXX. The G400 series cards offer great visual quality, good video performance and decent fill-rate performance (especially in 32-bit 3D applications). Another note I'd like to make about Matrox is their dedication to driver support in "other" operating systems. I'm not too sure of their future plans for next generation products but their current product line offers a couple of sturdy performers.
Our current 3D leader is the GeForce 256 by NVIDIA. If price isn't an issue, there really isn't a better all-around solution right now. The GeForce offers excellent fill-rate, T&L and super OpenGL support. It's not the perfect card but it's the best solution currently available for the high-end consumer. Next generation products from NVIDIA, and we are not talking of a long time here, will improve GeForce's performance considerably as well.
We recently took a peek at the Diamond Viper II from S3 that thankfully adds some competition to the higher end of the market. While this card didn't receive my blessing over the GeForce solution, it still offers good fill-rate, S3TC and quad texture support. This solution is still unproven being that it's extremely new to the market and we're still waiting to see how the T&L driver development turns out. This solution could very well offer stiff competition depending their upcoming drivers.