Product: Radeon X1900 XTX and Radeon X1900 XT
Company: ATI Technologies
Authour: Ryan "MrB" Ku & Mark "Ratchet" Thorne
Date: January 31st, 2006

It’s only been three months since ATI launched the X1800 line of cards, but ATI is already launching their refresher parts for the high-end line. This represents one of the shortest-lived product lines for ATI and the entire 3D graphics industry in general. In recent memory only the failed GeForce 5800 series was shorter, though that is arguable as that product never really saw retail availability.

The X1800 is a solid product that unfortunately ran into one too many delays which shortened its life considerably. It offered good performance combined with a slew of new technologies that finally brought ATI level with, or better than Nvidia. Most significantly, ATI products were finally capable of handling Shader Model 3.0. ATI preached that Shader Model 2.0 was good enough and they were more or less correct as games didn’t really take considerable advantage of SM3.0 features. Even so it made fully recommending their products difficult as it wasn’t as future proof as some of its competitors.  The X1800 line also introduced ATI’s all new ring-bus memory architecture that gave considerable potential for performance improvements. Another significant technology introduced was AVIVO technology that has only recently shown its muscle in the video reproduction area.  All these really made X1800 a great chip that was available in decent quantities during its short life.

Why replace the X1800 so quickly when it’s a pretty good product? Product planning occurs considerably earlier than product launch, and with certain assumptions made. The X1800 was supposed to launch around May and this was the timeframe used in planning for the refresher part. If all went according to plan the launch of the refresher part would then closely follow the traditional 6-month product refresh cycle. As we know the X1800 didn’t go according to plan and was delayed significantly. Still, competition and product cycles don’t wait for anyone and it’s better to move forward and cut your losses than stand still in a fast paced environment.

With the plan in hand and no hiccups in sight, ATI is launching the X1900 line consisting of four different cards: X1900XTX, X1900XT, X1900 Crossfire, and the AIW X1900. It’s the first time ATI has introduced an AIW edition at the same time as a new GPU launch. The X1900 isn’t just a speed bump over the X1800, it has a few considerable improvements that we’ll get into soon. It’s meant to engage, entertain, and breakthrough. Engage your reflexes; entertain your senses and breakthrough performance barriers. Let’s find out how well it accomplishes this.

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