Finally, when ATI told us that it was unveiling the Radeon X1950, the CrossFire Edition, and its other new cards today, but wasn't selling them until Sept. 14, we were reminded of the painful launch of the Radeon X1000 series, in which ATI failed to communicate the significant delay between the press coverage and the availability. We weren't going to fall for that again, so we asked ATI's Will Wallis to explain why this isn't another paper launch. Here's what he told us:
Originally we were looking at pushing the entire launch out until September 14, the reason being that some partners will be ready on [August] 23, and others won't be until closer to September 14, so to be fair to everyone, we'd move things out to that date.
The problem is that...there were similar meetings that had taken place in Europe, and three print publications are now locked and loaded to run stories on the X1950 cards on August 25, essentially breaking the NDA if we move it to the 14. The only fair thing that we could do for all involved is to keep the launch date of August 23 so that no one breaks the NDA, and everyone has a fair shot to report the news. Between August 23 and September 14, partners will ship cards to various system integrators, retailers, and e-tailers, and they'll build systems and move the cards through their supply chain up until the 14. They'll also take preorders up until the 14, at which point everything will ship.
In every meeting with ATI since the debacle of the Radeon X800 launch, its representatives have stressed to us that they've learned their lesson and that they don't intend to make the same mistake. Their remorse has felt genuine, and we also can't believe that ATI would really want to frustrate both its customers and the technology press to such an extent again. We're going to give ATI the benefit of the doubt on this one, and we anticipate that on September 14, the new cards really will ship. If the situation turns out differently, you can expect that we'll report on it.
ATI test bed
Athlon 64 FX-62; Asus A8RMVP Deluxe motherboard, 1GB Corsair XMS DDR SDRAM; 160GB Seagate 7,200rpm Serial ATA hard drives; ATI Catalyst beta 8-282-060802a-035384E
Nvidia test bed
Athlon 64 FX-62; Asus A8N32-SLI motherboard, 1GB Corsair XMS DDR SDRAM; 160GB Seagate 7,200rpm Serial ATA hard drives; Nvidia Forceware 91.31