Get those calendars marked for September.
ATI R520 is going to ship in the middle of August / beginning of September, according to the latest reports out of ATI Taiwan.
Not only that, but the company has two products lined up to accompany R520 - namely, R530 and RV515, as well as R580 due to arrive in 2006.
R520 will be the 'X950 XT' class part, whereas the R530 will be the 'X900' part, and RV515 will be... well, we don't know what the nomenclature is, but it will be the next-gen equivalent of what the X700 is right now.
The report on Digitimes
suggests that the chips are going to begin shipping in the middle of the third quarter, the third quarter being July-September. Expect a blitz of web publicity in the very beginning of September, and actual availability of cards in early October - this isn't going to be a quick launch for ATI, and it will almost certainly be paper at first.
The problem here is that Nvidia will have already had the 7800GTX shipping to customers for over 3 months by the time R520 arrives, and whilst R520 will surely be faster than the 7800GTX, expect Nvidia to have a 7800 Ultra part good and ready for October.
Why has ATI had these problems? Well, it's suffered from the process change. What does this mean? Well, the last generation of Radeon cards were based on 110nm manufacturing methods, which were industry standard. ATI are now moving to 90nm processes, meaning smaller cores (and more room for more complex functions) and less heat - but seeing as the techniques for building these chips is still being perfected, it can - and, it appears, has - lead to problems.
Looking back, Nvidia had exactly the same problem with GeForce FX - it had a hard time moving from 150nm to 130nm, and this caused the tremendous problems that the GeForce FX had.
Dare we say it, but is R520 going to be ATI's GeForce FX?
Do you think so too? Let us know!