We now know that Nvidia will officially announce its GeForce GTX 480 and 470 graphics cards on March 26. Only some of Nvidia's card partners may be at the party, however. DigiTimes has learned from anonymous sources that most of Nvidia's second-tier partners still haven't received "complete reference board designs."
Nvidia reportedly intends to prioritize "first-tier makers or makers that only produce Nvidia cards." As DigiTimes points out, XFX and PNY versions of the upcoming GF100 cards have already shown up for pre-order in the United States, so those partners will presumably be among those receiving preferential treatment. Cards from tier-two manufacturers may not start shipping until April.
On a separate note, DigiTimes writes that "some market watchers" don't see a price war between Nvidia and AMD occurring until after May. At issue are those pre-order listings, which showed price tags of $679.99 for the GeForce GTX 480 and $499.99 for the GeForce GTX 470. AMD only has one card in that price range: the dual-GPU Radeon HD 5970, which starts at around $650 and doesn't seem to be very widely available.
If you're waiting for lower-end GF100 derivatives to fight it out with AMD's mainstream Radeon HD 5000-series cards, well, you might want to be patient. When asked about such GPUs recently, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang stated that current-generation GeForces are "fabulous" and will "continue to do quite nicely in the marketplace." He also suggested that mainstream users may not need DirectX 11 cards to begin with, although he did also promise a quick transition to newer products.