For years ATI has been considered to be a leader in multimedia or video features, courtesy of products like their TV tuner and All-in-Wonder lines, however they have rarely been considered to be the high-end performance leaders of the industry.
Like Matrox and S3, ATI was caught completely off guard by the 3D revolution of a few years ago that left the market dominated by companies like the now defunct Rendition as well as a much more familiar name, 3dfx. ATI managed to stay alive courtesy of their extremely strong hold on many OEM markets, places where 3dfx and NVIDIA had a hard time breaking into at first.
The Rage 128 was originally intended to mark ATI’s entry back into the market as a serious contender in terms of performance, not only in terms of OEM acceptance. Unfortunately a horrendously delayed Rage 128 chip gave ATI little in the way of credibility and when it eventually did make it out, the solution wasn’t powerful enough to put ATI’s name anywhere on the performance map.
What ATI needed was a new core, as we noticed with the Rage 128 Pro, increasing the clock speed of the Rage 128 only bought ATI performance that NVIDIA’s TNT2 had been giving us for months before. The introduction of the Rage Fury MAXX shortly thereafter gave ATI a strong taste of what competing in the high-end gaming market was like, and it only foreshadowed what was soon to come once ATI finally got a new core to work with.
Enter the Radeon. Previewed in April of this year and released as well as shipped just two months later, the Radeon turned quite a few heads. For the first time, ATI was not only playing catch-up to NVIDIA but they were even outperforming the king of the market.
It didn’t take long for the market to respond, and since the Radeon’s introduction the pressure has been placed on NVIDIA, and now with the possibility of not seeing a new product until next year, it is ATI’s chance to shine. ATI has definitely seen this opportunity, and just like AMD did following the introduction of their Athlon, ATI is attempting to take advantage of their situation as much as possible.
Recent reports have indicated that ATI was planning to dramatically phase out their Rage 128 line and replace it with a more cost effective solution based on the Radeon core. Just as NVIDIA did with their GeForce2 MX, ATI is doing something very similar by releasing a low-cost version of the Radeon.
While continuing to promote the still relatively new Radeon brand name, ATI is introducing the next incarnation of the line, the Radeon SDR.