A Bit of History
One of the most curious aspects of the Radeon LE is the dearth of information surrounding the card. Originally, there was no official information regarding the Radeon LE, which inevitably led to quite a bit of speculation. A quick phone call to ATI sorted out the problem, and put all the rumors to rest.
The Radeon LE card is not actually produced by ATI. When ATI found no space in their product line for a video card based off of Radeon cores that did not meet speed specification, they decided to sell these chips to a third party manufacturer who could do with them what they pleased. Althon Micro, the company that ended up with the non qualifying Radeon cores, decided to manufacture and sell video cards based on these chips and gave these cards the name Radeon LE.
ATI agreed to this arrangement, given one condition: that the Radeon LE cards would be sold in the Asian market only. Estimating a large demand for slightly slower and cheaper Radeon DDR cards in this market, ATI said that Althon Micro could sell Radeon LE cards at a lower clock speed than the Radeon DDR as long as ATI's powerful HyperZ technology was disabled on the card's BIOS. ATI figured that this would provide a card that would fit between the Radeon SDR and Radeon DDR in terms of performance and therefore would not encroach on their product line.
This is why the mysterious Radeon LE cards originally appeared only in Asia. Unfortunately for Althon Micro, it was not long before they realized that the demand for a card like the Radeon LE was much lower than expected in this part of the world. Facing finical difficulties, ATI agreed to allow the sale of Radeon LE cards to the rest of the world as long as they were sold only in OEM packages.
And that brings us to where we are today. The Radeon LE can be found in a variety of on-line retailers, however it will always come in a nondescript brown box without a manual and will never appear on store shelves.
Just what will be in that plain cardboard box? Well, if it looks like a Radeon DDR and talks like a Radeon DDR, it must be a Radeon DDR, right? Not quite.