Just when it seems that a hard launch date has finally emerged for the eagerly anticipated DirectX 10 graphics core from ATI, we were disappointed with new information suggesting that the R600 is to be delayed till the second quarter of the year, meaning we are likely looking at a close to mid-year launch at the earliest. This must be the umpteen time that we have heard of ATI pushing back the launch of the R600. Taking into account of ATI's dreadful track record with many of its graphics product launches, (let's just say that if we were given a dollar for every delay/paper launch from ATI in recent years, we would have a tidy sum by now), it seems that things have not changed much yet, even with AMD taking over the reins.
This news could be too much for some long suffering enthusiasts who have been hoping that ATI could step in and exert some competitive pressure on NVIDIA, which currently has the first mover and market advantage for DirectX 10 graphics cards. Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to be the case for the next few months, by which time, NVIDIA is quite likely to have its full range of GeForce 8 cards available too. ATI has got a fight on its hands if it wants to stay relevant and we really hope that the eventual launch of the R600 will see a range of products from the lower to the high-end flagship models "targeting a broader market segment" as ATI claims it will accomplish.
Ominously for ATI, the first signs that NVIDIA is slowly loosening its restrictions on its GeForce 8 series have appeared, with the new 320MB 'budget' version of the GeForce 8800 GTS coming in overclocked flavors. If NVIDIA also manages to bring over its overclocking edge from the GeForce 7 series, the GeForce 8 series could have another advantage over the R600, especially with the rumors of heat concerns circulating on ATI's upcoming parts. Already, the vendors seem to be working on pushing the GeForce 8 cards. The Foxconn GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB Overclocked Edition that we reviewed previously is an example of how vendors are customizing the GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB and this trend continues today with another similar offering from MSI, the NX8800GTS-T2D320E-HD-OC. Here's a look at the package and its specifications: