It might not quite be justified to call today historical, but this July 17, 2002 is certainly marking a significant quirk in the continuity of the PC graphics scene. For years, the Toronto-based 3D chip maker ATi used to run behind technology leader NVIDIA, often just about managing to catch up for a short time, but utterly unable to take a meaningful lead in terms of technology or performance.This trend is over today, as ATi is attacking its Californian arch enemy in three areas. Radeon 9000 (Pro) marks the first DirectX 8-capable 3D chip in the value segment that is so financially important for 3D chip makers, while Radeon 9700 will take the crown of the technology as well as performance leader. Additionally, ATi is giving the first presentation of its highly anticipated 'RenderMonkey' 3D-tool suite, which will finally be beta-released next week at SIGGRAPH. Different to previous releases of ATi products, NVIDIA will not be able to counter ATi's attack with the launch of an even more powerful product a few weeks later. Mysterious 'NV30,' NVIDIA's "DX9 weapon," is still months away from its inception. The Santa Clara-based 3D chip maker will have to live with the No. 2 status for a while.
Of course, it wouldn't be an ATi launch if there weren't a few of the ' regular irregularities.' While cards with Radeon 9000 Pro, ATi's new DX 8.1 value chip, should be found on store shelves within the next days, the world will still have to wait a few weeks until cards with the new 'super chip' Radeon 9700 will become available. ATi says it won't be before the second half of August 2002 that you can purchase their new wonder product. This article will focus on Radeon 9700, while a parallel piece is dedicated to Radeon 9000 Pro .