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ATI RADEON X800 and NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Availability in the UK

by Paul Dutton on 9 July 2004, 00:00

Tags: ATi Technologies (NYSE:AMD), NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qay6

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ATI RADEON X800 and NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Availability in the UK

ATI RADEON X800 and NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Availability in the UK

As detailed in our comprehensive reviews, all the products so far released by both ATI and NVIDIA based on R420 and NV40 respectively, offer almost quantum leaps in performance over previous generation products, and it seems there's more to come. Not only with the imminent release of device drivers - with optimisations rumoured to increase performance - by some 30% and, specifically in the case of NVIDIA, with patches for games which will enable Pixel Shader 3.0 support in games such as Crytek/Ubi Soft's 'Far Cry', but with the most recent surprise announcement by NVIDIA regarding it's introduction of NVIDIA SLI™.

As reported by Dave Baumann at Beyond3D, this new multi-GPU technology enables multiple NVIDIA GeForce 6 Series PCI Express graphics cards to operate in a single PC or workstation, for which NVIDIA are claiming a 1.87x – almost double - further increase in performance.

But after the launch frenzy leading up to and surrounding the launch of the NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra, GeForce 6800 on April 14th (and even GeForce 6800 GT), shortly followed by the release of the ATI RADEON X800 XT Platinum Edition and its RADEON X800 PRO on May 4th, a lot of you guys seem concerned about the apparent, or seeming lack of availability of these awesome products.

So here at HEXUS, we've done a bit of digging to see what the current position is in terms of availability, and when things are set to improve...

Via both Gainward and XFX, NVIDIA have been the first to supply its flagship AGP 8x product to retailers. However the numbers have been relatively low and we suggest that, to date, less than one hundred NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra have reached popular local e-tailers such as Scan.

NVIDIA have acknowledged that as they have had significant back-orders, they too would have liked to have seen far greater availability of all NV40 based products; both to their PC OEM system builders and throughout the retail channel.

However at the time of speaking to HEXUS, NVIDIA were particularly buoyant as it seems to have just been in the process of shipping a significantly increased volume of NV40 class GPUs into its partners and which it believes will imminently move to satisfy consumer demand.

With just partner integration and transportation times to consider, we can understand NVIDIA being upbeat, as the channel could see this increased volume starting to ship in less than two weeks.

I suspect it's NVIDIA's policy not to disclose specific sales numbers, but reading between the lines of what it said, we now think that NVIDIA expects its partners to start shipping volumes of GeForce 6800 and 6800 GT perhaps in the low single digit thousands.

GeForce 6800 Ultra availability will also start to free up, but I'm confident that for the time being – in the UK at least - this will be in hundreds rather than the thousands.

Gainward UK's Wayne Tritton exclusively confirmed to HEXUS: “we are on our second round of 'CoolFX' (NV40 6800 Ultra based) right now, with GT and Extreme coming through behind it” and that “at least 130” of its extreme CoolFX PowerPack! Ultra/2600 "Golden Sample", liquid-cooled GeForce 6800 Ultra based product has already shipped.

In fact much to the surprise of the e-tail channel, Gainward UK seemed to have had its liquid-cooled 'CoolFX' 6800 Ultra available ex-stock before even air-cooled products from other NVIDIA partners!

Wayne also said that “limited stocks” of its actively air-cooled GeForce 6800 Ultra based on Gainward PowerPack! Ultra/2600 "Golden Sample" had been seeded to UK system builders, and that (Gainward) were “hoping to get stock out by end of next week...” with “numbers growing all the time”.

Seemingly in confirmation of the data provided by NVIDIA, Wayne stated to HEXUS “i know we have hundreds (of NV40 GPU) in and waiting to be given cooler and shipped out” and continued “I just want loads to ship myself as people are gagging for it!”

Our take is this – it's quite right that NVIDIA could always choose the date of its launch, and perhaps it was a little ambitious in its Press Release on April 14th where it claimed a 45 day availability - but at a stated 222 million transistors, the NVIDIA NV40 is the most incredibly complex GPU ever brought to the mainstream market.

So on balance, we think NVIDIA have done pretty well to get even small numbers of its highest end 6800 Ultra out the door close to that time frame.

Also exclusively speaking to HEXUS, ATI were proud of honouring its '30 day availability claim' originally made to us at at the time of the X800 Series launch. However, ATI also recognised that it's R420 based products are still in short supply to some quarters, especially to the retail channel and e-tailers, which unsurprisingly fulfill to early adopters of technology first.

However ATI is very much 'all about the money' and we can confirm that the bulk of X800 class products have been shipped to its system builder customers, and sources close to ATI were rather more specific than NVIDIA regarding numbers shipped within the UK.

RADEON X800 PRO is apparently now shipping “in the thousand's – single digit thousands, but thousands all the same”, whilst RADEON X800 XT Platinum Edition is shipping in “drops of fifty's and hundreds”.

We were also given the heads up that “the middle of July” was confidently targeted for volumes of all ATi RADEON X800 products to start to increase dramatically.

HEXUS spoke to one ATI's most important customers here in the UK - MESH Computers- and its dynamic General Manager Tony Riccardi seemed confident that they were fully in a position to meet current market demand.

MESH Computers seem to have been on the receiving end of a significant proportion of the UK allocation of the ATI X800 products. Tony confirmed that demand of MESH high-end gaming systems based upon ATI RADEON X800XT PE had apparently been strong, as some 60% of its initial stock of Platinum Edition parts, were sold even before the first shipment arrived.

However reading between the lines, and somewhat substantiating the inquiries we had made with ATI and NVIDIA, it seems that the general supply of the new high-end ATI products to the UK channel had been rather more fluid than for NVIDIA.

In regards to NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Series, MESH Computers were anticipating supply to free up in the next week or so, and were keen to see this happen as they have apparently achieved positive editorial endorsement on at least two of its GeForce 6800 ULTRA based systems - Matrix 64 3800+ ULTRA and Matrix 64 3200+ 68 ULTRA- with the UK printed press, and in so doing are obliged to offer these products for sale within a set time frame. Furthermore its flagship enthusiast system the MESH X-treme 64 - FX 53 Platinum is based upon NVIDIA GeForce 6800 ULTRA too.

Tony directed HEXUS to the following ATI RADEON X800 Series based MESH systems available for immediate delivery, firstly the AMD Athlon 64 FX53 based MESH Matrix A64-FX 53 XT and the the Intel Pentium 4 3.4GHz based Elite 3.4GHz PBX

Just as we have gone to press we note that both the ATI RADEON X800 PRO and RADEON X800XT Platinum Edition cards have also become available at the MESH Component Store at £311.38 and £393.63 inc VAT respectively.

In summary the bottom line seems to be this we feel that both graphic titans – ATI and NVIDIA – need to take a leaf out of say the book that AMD and Intel have had to learn from.

From an end user perspective – and isn't that what really matters? - we suggest that both companies need to launch products rather closer to realistic end-user delivery times, and we think this should be either immediately or but in any event, well within 30 days of launch, and for all SKUs.

ATI and NVIDIA have both done a fantastic job in leveraging extreme-end 3D graphics performance beyond initial expectation – both for gamers and professional users - but in so doing the level of end-user demand has caused degrees of frustration throughout the channel.

This time round NVIDIA seem to have been first out of the door to retailers with GeForce 6800 ULTRA – though in extremely limited quantities and there's still seems to be no sight of 6800 non-ULTRA, whilst ATI seemed to have done a better job, volume wise, especially with RADEON X800 PRO and especially with selected system builders, though it's only now that the X800XT Platinum Edition is seeing the light of day.

However it seems that now finally, the promises of next-generation graphics performance we covered more than two months ago, is dribbling into the hands of the people that matter.

This morning we've had a quick scout about for availability of ATI RADEON X800 and NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Series Products here in the UK with retailers we trust, and this is what we found:

ATi RADEON X800XT Platinum Edition
1. MESH Computers
Connect3D RADEON X800XT Platinum Edition 256MB G-DDR3 with VGA, DVI-I & Tv-out- £393.63 inc. VAT
BUY here

1. Scan Computers
Connect3D RADEON X800 PRO 256MB G-DDR3 with VGA, DVI-I & Tv-out - £292.58 inc. VAT
BUY here

256Mb G-DDR3 Excalibur (HiS) Radeon X800 Pro Platinum (D-Sub, DVI, TV-out) - £320.78 inc. VAT
BUY here

2. MESH Computers
Connect3D RADEON X800 PRO 256MB G-DDR3 with VGA, DVI-I & Tv-out - £311.38 inc. VAT
BUY here

3. Blisware
Sapphire Radeon X800 PRO 256MB G-DDR3 - £318.41 inc. VAT
Connect3D RADEON X800 PRO 256MB G-DDR3 with DVI-I & VIVO - £327.81 inc. VAT
BUY here

NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra
1. Scan Computers
256MB XFX GeForce 6800 ULTRA -DDR3 Tv/DVI - £393.57 inc. VAT*
BUY here

NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT
1. Scan Computers
256MB G-DDR3 XFX GeForce 6800 GT G-DDR3 TV + DVI - £296.10 inc. VAT*
BUY here

*Please note that Scan's site currently says that these two items are not in stock, but we assure you that 20x NVIDIA GeForce 6800 ULTRA and 30x GeForce 6800 GT have just landed, and will be available from stock on Monday ;)

Hope this helps!

Update - 13:24 Friday July 9th 2004
Wayne Tritton of Gainward UK has just confirmed to HEXUS that NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT are shipping from Gainward to its customers “this week”, and that (GeForce 6800) “ULTRA (will follow) next week”.

So within those time frames, Scan computers should have the following Gainward products available as follows:

Gainward CoolFX PowerPack! Ultra/2600 Golden Sample (NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra - 450MHz+ GPU/1200MHz+ 256MB 1.6ns G-DDR3)
BUY here

Gainward PowerPack! Ultra/2600 Golden Sample (NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra - 400MHZ+ GPU/1200MHz 256MB 1.6ns G-DDR3)
BUY here

Gainward PowerPack! Ultra/2400 Golden Sample (NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT - 400MHZ+ GPU with 256MB 1.6ns G-DDR3)
BUY here

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