Unusual Launch Preparations
Before I start to get into the technology review of ATi's new über-product, I'd like to make a few comments about ATi's launch procedure. These are just personal thoughts from the perspective of a computer journalist and of no consequence whatsoever to you readers out there, which is why you might want to skip this paragraph.
For the first time in five years, ATi has developed a product that can claim technology as well as performance leadership. The amazement of this incredible perspective must have paralyzed ATi's marketing department, as there was an utter lack of the usual technology white papers, demos and other launch information prior to the release day. Only a week ago, we (the Tom's Hardware reporter team dedicated to this event) weren't even quite sure of what exactly would be launched today, because ATi wasn't able to give us this information. In the last few days before July 17, we were finally buried in new information on an hourly basis, barely able to put all that stuff into the upcoming article. Radeon 9700 is an impressive part, but because of this you want to get the word out about its technology well ahead of time.
ATi's choice of the location for the launch of the new Radeon 9000 series could be considered gutsy or maybe crazy. Instead of inviting the press to ATi's 'home town' Toronto, the launch event was placed right into NVIDIA's front yard in San Francisco, California. This might be a display of defiance, along the lines of "Hello NVIDIA! We are not afraid of you!" and in fact, NVIDIA was slightly irritated. However, it gave NVIDIA the chance to try and spoil ATi's efforts prior to the launch. Journalists were told that NVIDIA is less than impressed by Radeon 9000 as well as Radeon 9700 and that they don't believe ATi is going to sell a lot of either product. I leave it up to you to decide if you consider these words meaningful or simply sour grapes. It remains a fact that this time, NVIDIA will have to accept ATi's leadership for quite a bit longer than just a few weeks.