Two weeks ago today, Rich Heye, VP and GM of ATI's desktop business unit, stood up in front of a room full of skeptical journalists and attempted to defuse those concerns. The problem with R520, he told us, with neither a snag caused by TSMC's 90nm process tech nor a fundamental design issue. The chip was supposed to launch in June, he said, but was slowed by a circuit design buga simple problem, but repeated throughout the chip. Once ATI identified the problem and fixed it, the R520 gained 150MHz in clock frequency. That may not sound like much if you're thinking of CPUs, but in the world of 16-pipe-wide graphics processors, 150MHz can make the difference between competitive success and failure.
With those concerns addressed, ATI proceeded to unveil not just R520, but a whole family of Radeon graphics products ranging from roughly $79 to $549, based on three new GPUs that share a common heritage. It is one of the most sweeping product launches we've ever seen in graphics, intended to bring ATI up to feature parity with NVIDIAand then some. Read on as we delve into the technology behind ATI's new GPU lineup and then test its performance head to head against its direct competition.