While AMD will tell us that R600 is not late and hasn't been delayed, this is simply because they never actually set a public date from which to be delayed. We all know that AMD would rather have seen their hardware hit the streets at or around the time Vista launched, or better yet, alongside G80. But the fact is that AMD had quite a few problems in getting R600 out the door.

While we couldn't really get the whole story from anyone, we heard bits and pieces here and there during our three day briefing event in Tunis, Tunisia. These conversations were short and scattered and not the kind of thing that it's easy to get a straight answer about when asking direct questions. Keeping that in mind, we do have some information and speculation about a few of the road bumps AMD faced with R600.

Apparently, the first spin of R600 silicon could only communicate over the debugging interface. While the upside is that the chip wasn't totally dead, this is not a good problem to have. We also overheard that a later revision of the hardware suffered from fragments getting stuck in pixel shaders. We even overheard one conversation where someone jokingly remarked that AMD should design hardware but leave the execution to NVIDIA.

In a wild bout of pure speculation on our part, we would have to guess about one other problem that popped up during R600's creation. It seems to us that AMD was unable to get their MSAA hardware to work properly and was forced to use shader hardware to handle MSAA rather than go back for yet another silicon revision. Please know that this is not a confirmed fact, but just an educated guess.

In another unique move, there is no high end part in AMD's R600 lineup. The Radeon HD 2900 XT is the highest end graphics card in the lineup and it's priced at $399. While we appreciate AMD's intent to keep prices in check, the justification is what we have an issue with. According to AMD, it loses money on high end parts which is why we won't see anything more expensive than the 2900 XT this time around. The real story is that AMD would lose money on a high end part if it wasn't competitive, which is why we feel that there's nothing more expensive than the 2900 XT. It's not a huge deal because the number of people buying > $399 graphics cards is limited, but before we've started the review AMD is already giving up ground to NVIDIA, which isn't a good sign.

More than anything, we'd guess that the lack of a high end part has a lot to do with the delays and struggles AMD saw this time around in bringing R600 to market. We expect to see the return of a very high end part by the time R700 comes around, assuming that there aren't similarly debilitating delays.

The delays and lack of a high end would be beyond perfect if the Radeon HD 2900 XT could do to NVIDIA what the G80 launch did to ATI, unfortunately the picture just isn't that rosy. ATI's latest and greatest doesn't exactly deliver the best performance per watt, so while it doesn't compete performance-wise with the GeForce 8800 GTX it requires more power. An ultra high end power requirement in a sub-$400 graphics card isn't exactly ideal.

Despite all of this, there's a great deal of cool technology in the R600, and as ATI is now a part of a CPU company, we received more detail on the GPU than we've gotten during any other GPU launch. AMD takes graphics very seriously, and it recently reaffirmed its commitment to continue to deliver high end discrete graphics cards, so amidst countless delays and rumors of strange problems, the R600 architecture is quite possibly more important to AMD than the graphics cards themselves. An eventual derivative of this architecture will be used in AMD's Fusion processors, eventually making their way into a heterogeneous multi-core AMD microprocessor.

With AMD's disappointing Q1, it can't rest too much on the hope of Fusion changing the market, so we'll have to start by looking at where R600 is today and how it stacks up to NVIDIA's latest and almost greatest.

DX10 Redux


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  • Roy2001 - Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - link

    The reason is, you have to pay extra $ for a power supply. No, most probably your old PSU won't have enough milk for this baby. I will stick with nVidia in future. My 2 cents. Reply
  • Chaser - Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - link


    While AMD will tell us that R600 is not late and hasn't been delayed, this is simply because they never actually set a public date from which to be delayed. We all know that AMD would rather have seen their hardware hit the streets at or around the time Vista launched, or better yet, alongside G80.

    First, they refuse to call a spade a spade: this part was absolutely delayed, and it works better to admit this rather than making excuses.

    Such a revealing tech article. Thanks for other sources Tom.
  • archcommus - Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - link

    $300 is the exact price point I shoot for when buying a video card, so that pretty much eliminates AMD right off the bat for me right now. I want to spend more than $200 but $400 is too much. I'm sure they'll fill this void eventually, and how that card will stack up against an 8800 GTS 320 MB is what I'm interested in. Reply
  • H4n53n - Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - link

    Interesting enough in some other websites it wins from 8800 gtx in most games,especially the newer ones and comparing the price i would say it's a good deal?I think it's just driver problems,ati has been known for not having a very good driver compared to nvidia but when they fixed it then it'll win Reply
  • dragonsqrrl - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    lol...fail. In retrospect it's really easy to pick out the EPIC ATI fanboys now. Reply
  • DLeRium - Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - link

    I skimmed this article because I have a final. ATI can't hold a candle to NV at the moment it seems. Now while the 2900XT might have good value, I am correct in saying that ATI has lost the performance crown by a buttload (not even like X1800 vs 7800) but like they're totally slaughtered right?

    Now I won't go and comment about how the 2900 stacks up against competition in the same price range, but it seems that GTSes can be acquired for cheap.

    Did ATI flop big here?
  • vailr - Monday, May 14, 2007 - link

    I'd rather use a mid-range older card that "only" uses ~100 Watts (or less) than pay ~$400 for a card that requires 300 Watts to run. Doesn't AMD care about "Global Warming"?
    Al Gore would be amazed, alarmed, and astounded !!
  • Deusfaux - Monday, May 14, 2007 - link

    No they dont and that's why the 2600 and 2400 don't exist
  • ochentay4 - Monday, May 14, 2007 - link

    Let me start with this: i always had a nvidia card. ALWAYS.

    Faster is NOT ALWAYS better. For the most part this is true, for me, it was. One year ago I boght a MSI7600GT. Seemed the best bang for the buck. Since I bought it, I had problems with TVout detection, TVout wrong aspect ratios, broken LCD scaling, lot of game problems, inexistent support (nv forum is a joke) and UNIFIED DRIVER ARQUITECTURE. What a terrible lie! The latest official drivers is 6 months ago!!!

    Im really demanding, but i payed enough to demand a 100% working product. Now ATi latest offering has: AVIVO, FULL VIDEO ACC, MONTHLY DRIVER UPDATES, ALL BUGS I NOTICED WITH NVIDIA CARD FIXED, HDMI AND PRICE. I prefer that than a simple product, specially for the money they cost!

    I will never buy a nvidia card again. I'm definitely looking forward ATis offering (after the joke that is/was 8600GT/GTS).

    Enough rant.
    Am I wrong?
  • Roy2001 - Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - link

    Yeah, you are wrong. Spend $400 on a 2900XT and then $150 on a PSU. Reply

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