ATI's CrossFire: MIA
The CrossFire Saga Continues
It has been one week since ATI launched the X850 XT CrossFire Edition card upon the world. Our review was one of many that were posted on that very day, all with claims of product availability at launch. The problem is we still haven't seen product hit shelves or e-tailers anywhere.
ATI saw that with the release of the 7800 GTX and the 7800 GT parts from NVIDIA that they too needed to have launch availability with any new product they release into the market. In fact, ATI told me and other editors at their recent technology day in San Francisco, as well as various other times on the phone and in person, that the reason CrossFire was delayed was for just that reason — so they would have parts for people to purchase at launch time. Only that wasn't the case, and unfortunately, is still not the case.
Have a look at Newegg.com and run a search for CrossFire: you'll get several 'CrossFire ready' graphics cards but still no master cards that will actually let you use the technology. Nor do you see any motherboards that are CrossFire ready. Similarly at ZipZoomFly.com, I searched around their site and came up empty handed on both CrossFire video cards and motherboards. So, we can conclude that the product we were all told would be available at launch is still not found for sale seven full days after release.
Here's a quote from my unedited CrossFire review posted last Monday, the 26th of September:
"With NVIDIA setting the bar high with their 7800 GTX and immediate availability, ATI would be committing suicide not doing the same from now on. Though I haven't checked the e-tailers yet today, I was assured that major sellers like Newegg.com would have them available for sale today or later in the week."
While I won't go as far as to call any reviewers patsies, I can admit that nearly all of us were duped by the gentle words of the ATI media relations. And in turn, I passed on that invalid information on to our readers, making me look as foolish as they are.
ATI is in quite a predicament now — they have already admitted to the world that NVIDIA has changed the way the public, their investors and the gamers look at graphics card launches. With the immediate availability of the 7800 GTX and GT cards NVIDIA has put this as a new standard and puts more weight behind the term 'paper launch' in the world of GPUs. Does the X850 XT CrossFire launch last Monday become declared a paper launch? In many minds, the answer is yes. And in my mind, I seem to agree with them. If ATI, or any hardware vendor, can assure product availability within a week or so of an announcement, I would have a hard time labeling it a 'paper launch.' But ATI has failed to follow up on their promises of 'hard launch' that much is for sure.
If we see X850 XT CrossFire master cards this week, ATI will have a small redemption, but it is going to take a stronger commitment to their upcoming R520 launch to really win the press and the gamers back over.