ATI's Radeon X1900 series graphics cards

I've got a fever, and the only prescription is... more pixel shaders
— 8:02 AM on January 24, 2006

SO YOU'RE SITTING IN your executive suite just outside of Toronto, reading your favorite website's stellar review of the GeForce 7800 GTX 512. This new GPU from your main competitor is putting the hurt on your company's own high-end offering, the Radeon X1800 XT. In fact, the contest is more lopsided than the NFC championship game. Not good. What can you do about it?

If you're a bigwig at ATI, you've got quite a few arrows in your quiver. You have a next-generation GPU design just recently introduced, loaded with the latest bells and whistles. You've already made the conversion to a 90nm chip fabrication process, so your transistor budgets are ample. And you have a pretty good idea what it might take to win back the performance crown. You'd probably order up a new chip with a whole lot more power in order to meet the competition head on. You'd want to do something gaudy, something that would be sure to raise eyebrows and also pack a heckuva wallop.

48 pixel shaders ought to do it, don't you think?

That's exactly how many pixel shader units ATI has packed into its new GPU, the Radeon X1900. Yes, you read that right: for-tee eight.

If you really wanted to make a splash, perhaps you'd hook two of them together into a CrossFire configuration for a total of 96 pixel shaders churning out eye candy by the bucketload. That oughta show 'em. And then you'd price 'em nice and high, but make sure that cards were widely available on their launch day, with thousands of those puppies lined up at online retailers, ready to sell.

Sounds like a plan to me. In fact, that is very much ATI's plan for the Radeon X1900 series, and your favorite website has benchmarked the stuffing out of the high-end lineups from ATI and NVIDIA in order to see how these new entries fit into the picture. With 96 pixel shaders tearing through F.E.A.R. like Michael Moore through a loaf of cheese bread, does NVIDIA stand a chance?

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