This story over at DigiTimes has some information on the launch dates for NVIDIA's NV18 and NV28 GPUs, which are essentially just AGP 8X-compatible versions of current GeForce4 MX and Titanium graphics chipsets, but there's a spicy bit of information on ATI's upcoming Radeon 9500 buried at the end of the article.
Facing the new competition from Nvidia, especially in the medium-range market, ATI Technologies announced that in October it will introduce its Radeon 9500 series, a simpler version of its top-end Radeon 9700 PRO. Though based on the R300 core and offering the AGP 8x specification, the Radeon 9500 series (Radeon 9500 and Radeon 9500 PRO) is designed with four pipelines and DirectX 8.1 support.The emphasis is mine, but if this report is correct, we can all share the disappointment. It was expected that ATI would cut out some of the Radeon 9700's rendering pipelines to hit a mid-range price point, but possibly losing DirectX 9 support really hurts.
The Radeon 9500 Pro will apparently go for $219US, which puts it directly in competition with NVIDIA's GeForce4 Ti 4600. An AGP 8X version of NVIDIA's GeForce4 Ti4600 will likely be NVIDIA's flagship until NV30, and head-to-head, the Radeon 9500 Pro might come out on top. We'll have wait and see how the performance battle between the two turns out, but at least it'll give us a warm-up for NV30.
Update Damage: Wow, this report sounds incorrect to me. It's hard to conceive of an R300-based chip that somehow doesn't support DirectX 9-class features. I think maybe a reporter at Digitimes just munged up a DirectX version here. ATI indicated at the Radeon 9700 launch that they'd be bringing the 9700's features into the mainstream with a future chip like the 9500. I will try to follow up on this story with ATI, but as you might expect, they are not big on discussing unannounced products.
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