Take all the clichés used to describe a long overdue event or the unexpected fulfillment of a promise (hot places freezing, heavy animals soaring through the air, etc...) and you still couldn't say enough to fully proclaim the news that ATI has finally properly hard launched a product. That's right, looking around the internet this morning has provided us with the joyous realization that the Radeon X1900XT, XTX, and CrossFire parts are available for purchase. We've tried to keep an eye on the situation and it's been quite easy to see that ATI would be able to pull it off this time. Some sites started taking preorders earlier in the week saying their X1900 parts would ship in one to two days, putting the timeframe right on the mark. There were no missing dongles, no problems with customs, and ATI told us last week that thousands of parts had already been delivered to manufacturers.

And if that isn't enough to dance about, ATI has delivered a hugely powerful part with this launch. The Radeon X1900 series is no joke, and every card featuring the name is a behemoth. With triple the pixel shader units of the X1800 XT, and a general increase in supporting hardware throughout the pixel processing engine, ATI's hugely clocked 384 Million transistor GPU is capable of crunching enormous volumes of data very quickly. Fill rate isn't increased very much because the X1900 series still only allows 16 pixels to be drawn to the screen per clock cycle, but power is delivered where it is needed most. With longer and more complex shader programs, pixels need to stay in the shader engine longer which further shifts the performance burden from the theoretical maximum fill rate.

NVIDIA would like us to compare the X1900's increase in ALU (arithmetic logic unit) power to what they did with the FX 5900 after NV30 tanked. Certainly, increasing the math power (and increasing memory bandwidth) helped NVIDIA, but fortunately for ATI the X1900 is not derived from a fundamentally flawed GPU design. The X1800 series are certainly not bad parts, even if they are being completely replaced by the X1900 in ATI's lineup.

I'll spoil the results and make it clear that the X1900XT and XTX are hands down the best cards out there right now. But all positives aside, ATI needed this card to hard launch with good availability, perform better than anything else, and look good doing it. There have been too many speed bumps in ATI's way for there to be any room for a slip up on this launch, and it looks like they've pulled it off. The launch of the X1900 series not only puts ATI back on top, but (much more importantly) it puts them back in the game. Let's hope that both ATI and NVIDIA can keep up the good fight.

But let's not forget why we're here. The first thing we are going to do is talk about what makes the R580 GPU that powers the X1900 series so incredibly good at what it does.

R580 Architecture


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  • poohbear - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    $500 too much? there are cars for $300, 000+, but u dont see the majority of ppl complaining because they're NOT aimed at u and me and ferrari & lamborghini could care less what we think cause we're not their target audience. get over yourself, there ARE cards for you in the $100+ $300, so what are u worried about? Reply
  • timmiser - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    While I agree with what you are saying, we are already on our 3rd generation of $500 high end graphic cards. If memory serves, it was the Nvidia 6800 that broke the $500 barrier for a single card solution.

    I'm just happy it seems to have leveled off at $500.
  • Zebo - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    Actually GPU's in general scale very well with price/performance and this is no exception. Twice as fast as a 850 XT which you can get for $275 should cost twice as much or $550 which it does. If you want to complain about prices look at CPUs, high end memory and raptors/SCSI which higher line items offer small benefits for huge price premiums. Reply
  • fishbits - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    Geez, talk about missing the point. News flash: Bleeding edge computer gear costs a lot. $500 is an excellent price for the best card out. Would I rather have it for $12? Yes. Can I afford/justify a $500 gfx card? No, but more power to those who can, and give revenue to ATI/Nvidia so that they can continue to make better cards that relatively quickly fall within my reach. I can't afford a $400 9800 pro either... whoops! They don't cost that much now, do they?


    Even if you played a game thats needs it you should be pissed at the game company thats puts a blot mess thats needs a $500 card.

    Short-sighted again. Look at the launch of Unreal games for instance. Their code is always awesome on the performance side, but can take advantage of more power than most have available at release time. You can tell them their code is shoddy, good luck with that. In reality it's great code that works now, and your gaming enjoyment is extended as you upgrade over time and can access better graphics without having to buy a new game. Open up your mind, quit hating and realize that these companies are giving us value. You can't afford it now, neither can I, but quit your crying and applaud Nv/ATI for giving us constantly more powerful cards.
  • aschwabe - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    Agreed, I'm not sure how anyone constitutes $500 for ONE component a good price. I'll pay no more than 300-350 for a vid card. Reply
  • bamacre - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    Hear, hear!! A voice of reason! Reply
  • rqle - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    I like new line graph color and interface, but i like bar graph so much more. Never a big fan over SLI or Crossfire on the graph, makes its a distracting, especially it only represent a small group. Wonder if crossfire and sli can have their own graph by themselves or maybe their own color. =) Reply
  • DerekWilson - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    it could be possible for us to look at multigpu solutions serpeately, but it is quite relevant to compare single card performance to multigpu performance -- especially when trying to analyze performance. Reply
  • Live - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    Good reading! Good to see ATI getting back in the game. Now lets see some price competition for a change.

    I don’t understand what CrossFire XTX means. I thought there was no XTX crossfire card? Since the Crossfire and XT have the same clocks it shouldn’t matter if the other card is a XTX. By looking at the graphs it would seem I was wrong but how can this be? This would indicate that the XTX has more going for it then just the clocks but that is not so, right?

    Bha I'm confused :)
  • DigitalFreak - Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - link

    My understanding is that Crossfire is async, so both cards run at their maximum speed. The XTX card runs at 650/1.55, while the Crossfire Edition card runs at 625/1.45. You're right, there is no Crossfire Edition XTX card. Reply

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