ATI and NVIDIA have been locked in a bitter graphics war for the better part of roughly a decade now, although admittedly NVIDIA really wasn’t directly in ATI’s crosshairs those first few years. Over the course of this time both companies have seen their fortunes rise and fall, with neither company ever able to truly land a knockout blow to the other, which has led to a very
competitive graphics industry. In fact, the graphics industry is probably the most competitive segment in the PC world right now, and has been for quite some time. But in more recent times a new front has opened in the ATI versus NVIDIA war: system chipsets.
For past few years now, NVIDIA’s had a decisive advantage in the chipset market over not just ATI, but all chipset manufacturers in the AMD space. Take for example the first generation of PCI Express capable chipsets for the AMD platform. Both ATI and NVIDIA’s chipsets first shipped in the same general timeframe around the end of 2004, but it was NVIDIA’s nForce4 chipset that was perceived as the high-end part, with most of ATI’s XPRESS 200 chipset sales going to OEMs who opted for the ATI chipset due to the fact that they were the only ones to offer a PCI Express chipset with integrated graphics. Once NVIDIA provided their integrated solution, ATI’s XPRES 200 sales quickly dried up. nForce4’s dominance continued for all of 2005 and into 2006 as well.
Then about 2 months ago ATI dropped a bombshell on the chipset space with the launch of their CrossFire Xpress 3200 chipset. Not only did ATI finally have a viable answer to NVIDIA’s SLI, Xpress 3200 also delivered excellent performance and stunning overclocking capabilities, all in a package that ran cooler than NVIDIA’s latest nForce offerings. It was as if ATI built a chipset specifically for hardware enthusiasts who were into overclocking and tweaking their system’s performance. Sure, Xpress 3200 didn’t natively have all the frills and gadgets found in NVIDIA’s latest chipset offerings, but that didn’t stop motherboard manufacturers like ASUS from incorporating as many of those features as they could into their own Xpress 3200 motherboards.
With the arrival of CrossFire XPRESS 3200, ATI for the first time had a true high-end solution that was capable of taking on the latest and greatest from NVIDIA.
Now with the arrival of AMD’s brand new AM2 socket, both ATI and NVIDIA have a new platform to renew their battle on. ATI’s decided to stick largely with their tried and tested Xpress 3200 platform first launched in March, while NVIDIA’s come up with a new nForce chipset that’s a little more revised in comparison to the competition. We’ll start with ATI first since it’s roots are basically unchanged…