It turns out that the R600 won't be out as early as we all expected. ATI has the flexibility to postpone this chip as there won't be any DirectX 10 API to run the hardware. The original plan was to launch this unified Shader chip in the summer of 2006 but ATI has already informed its partners to be ready for an 80 nanometre die shrink of the R580. The R580+ chip is scheduled for late summer time.
ATI won't release two high end chips within a month or two, so this definitely means that ATI will use the R580+ to provoke Nvidia's G80 and it will launch the R600 later.
Even if ATI wanted to launch the R600 before Microsoft Vista, it would end up struggling with a non-existent DirectX 10, only available for Vista, and not for XP. ATI has already been in such a situation with R300 when it released the cards in August 2002 and had to wait for the official DirectX 9 for months.
If we have to guess the date I would suggest early Q4 for the launch. WE still don't know anything about Nvidia's G80 timing, but I would suggest that Nvidia might launch this one by the end of summer. µ
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