ATI Radeon X1800 GTO
Given the recent launch of ATI's new flagship Radeon X1900 series, the previous high-end Radeon X1800 series has seen some new introductions as well as some price cuts. With an MSRP of $249, the new Radeon X1800 GTO represents the most economical option in ATI's family of enthusiast GPU's. The current product lineup consists of the SKUs listed below which are arranged according to MSRP. Here, we should note that both the Radeon X1800 XL 512MB as well as the X1800 XT 256MB are not your typical consumer SKU's. Rather, these cards are special AIB SKU's for system vendors to allow more flexibility in specifying complete systems for a given price point.
|Item / Configuration||MSRP||Availability|
|Radeon X1800 GTO 256MB||$249||March 31|
|Radeon X1800 XL 256MB||$299||Available|
|Radeon X1800 XT 512MB||$329||Available|
|Radeon X1800 Crossfire 512MB||$349||Available|
|Radeon X1900 XT 512MB||$479||Available|
|Radeon X1900 XTX 512MB||$549||Available|
|Radeon X1900 Crossfire 512MB||$549||Available|
Looking at the table above, we see some promising news that is somewhat tainted by one inconsistency. Despite the fact that every SKU except one is currently available in the retail channel, the card in question today will not be readily available until the end of March. As a result, we begin to view today's product launch as a knee-jerk reaction to NVIDIA's new GeForce 7600 and GeForce 7900 series and not as a previously-planned product from ATI. Were that not the case and the Radeon X1800 GTO represented a new architecture and not simply a cut-down X1800 XL, we could understand and appreciate a slight delay to launch.
Conversely, ATI would claim that previous pre-loading of retail and partner channels has only lead to leakage of pre-embargo lift information in the market, so they felt compelled to hold off shipping until a couple of weeks after launch. We'll sift through this a bit and offer that if NVIDIA has been able to keep things under wraps with their GeForce 7900 series hard launch, so should ATI.
We've previously mentioned that the Radeon X1800 GTO does not represent any new architectural changes to the X1800 series of GPUs. In fact, the new GTO model uses the exact same R520 core shown above which is found in the more expensive models of the same family. Here, the only limitations placed on this card to reach the desired price-point are the reduction of shader pipelines down to 12 and the cut in number of ROPs down to 8. In short, this means the Radeon X1800 GTO is equipped with a complete DX9 architecture that supports Shader 3.0 as well as constant FP32 processing, dynamic flow control, HDR with FSAA, and a 512-bit Ring Bus memory controller. On top of this, users also receive complete support for ATI's AVIVO multimedia functionality. Perhaps one of the most interesting features of this new model however is the upcoming support for "peer-to-peer" Crossfire operation.
CrossFire With No Master For The Performance Mid-Range -
After speaking with ATI, we learned that the Radeon X1800 GTO would be one of the few graphics cards that would support "peer-to-peer" CrossFire implementations. This hardware configuration would not require any of the usual dongles or special "Master CrossFire Edition" graphics cards. Rather, CrossFire would be software-enabled through the driver and inter-GPU communications would take place across PCI Express Graphics links. Unfortunately, it is hard to get too excited about this feature at this time, as this functionality is not currently enabled in any drivers and the expected release date for such a driver is not currently known at this time. Regardless, I'm sure many users are excited with the prospect of losing CrossFire dongles and having to purchase a specific model of their CF Master graphics card to obtain the performance benefits of CrossFire.