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Desktop Graphics Ambitions: ATi Mobile Radeon 9800

Record Time For Development

Six months after ATi launched its Mobility Radeon 9700, the Canadian developers are pulling the next graphics ace from their sleeve - the MR9800. According to ATi, this extremely short development time is the result of bundling its development staff into two development teams, the desktop and the mobile group. While the desktop group focused primarily on the development of the graphics features, the mobile group's assignment was to integrate these features and develop the power management for the individual function blocks.

The result is a graphics chip with which the Canadian manufacturer is appealing to the relatively small but exclusive target group of mobile gaming enthusiasts. It follows that you will not find this chip in just any garden-variety notebook, but rather only in notebooks for hard-core gamers on the go. We're talking about desktop replacement systems that, with a weight of more than three to four kilograms, are not so much portable as they are transportable.

Just like its predecessor, the MR9700, the MR9800 will be available in notebooks on the same day of its launch. The Canadian pixel wizards picked Dell as its exclusive partner for the first four weeks after the MR9800's launch. In other words, in August, only specific notebook models from Dell, namely the Inspiron XPS (USA) and the Inspiron 9100 (Europe), will be available with the new processor.

Whether the distribution deal between ATi and Dell is due to particularly friendly relations between the two manufacturers is a point of dispute. Instead, maybe the processor's production yields are initially so poor that ATi did not want to run the risk of not being able to meet the demands of more than one customer. After all, back in old Europe the rumor persists that not too long ago, a once very big player in the European notebook market based in a country with lots of mountains - along with maybe a couple of dwarves - almost ended up in the happy hunting grounds of the IT industry thanks to a similar "supply problem."

Whatever the case may be, we know this much is true: Rumors are a little like fairy tales. There's always a morsel of truth to them. But rather than deal in further speculation, we would like to talk about the product instead and see what it is capable of based on our tests.