ATI's R520 silicon "fantastic" - sources

Chicago (IL) - After weeks of delay, final silicon of ATI’s next graphic chip generation, code-named R520, apparently made it through the production line. According to sources, quality and performance of the chip exceed initial expectations, allowing the company to announce serious competition for Nvidia’s 7800 GTX possibly in a matter of weeks.

Nvidia may be sweeping the high-performance graphics market with its seventh generation GeForce, but ATI made significant strides in preparing its next graphics chip and is likely to set new records in graphic performance. Credible industry sources told Tom’s Hardware Guide that the R520 may debut with clock speeds in the range of 700 MHz and a completely redesigned graphics architecture.

Compared to 7800 GTX, our sources claim that the R520 can best Nvidia’s performance and image quality levels in any scenario. Nvidia recently came under fire with accusations that the company uses "driver cheats" for its 7800 series to increase frame rate performance on one side but sacrifizes image quality on the other. While we have to wait for the final product to verify itsactual capability, ATI may have in fact a chip in its hands that could force Nvidia to release a new flagship for its 7800 series.

Ahead of the R520, ATI is expected to to release its Crossfire dual graphics support. Several vendors told Tom’s Hardware Guide that motherboard designs are finalized and that the industry at this time waits for ATI to officially introduce the technology. Crossfire boards are expected to be priced about 5 to 10 percent below SLI boards.

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