nVidia exercises a monopoly on high-end video cards as AMD/ATI fails to produce a viable alternative part, despite an extra six months of development time.

Six months after nVidia launched its lineup of DirectX 10 video cards in concert with the release of Windows Vista, AMD-ATI has released its own chipset to a chorus of criticism and disappointment.

Dubbed the R600 chipset, and featured on the flagship $399 Radeon HD 2900 XT videocard, ATI’s latest offering is more expensive than its nVidia counterpart, produces more heat, creates more noise and apparently suffers from a fundamental flaw in performing anti-aliasing.

According to the technology review site Anandtech.com, the R600 has been delayed due to fundamental hardware problems.

Interestingly, the site also notes, ATI did not release a high-end graphics solution in its latest offering – the 2900 XT is only directly comparable to nVidia’s second-in-line 8800 GTS.

Anandtech.com comments:

While we appreciate AMD’s intent to keep prices in check, the justification is what we have an issue with. According to AMD, it loses money on high end parts which is why we won’t see anything more expensive than the 2900 XT this time around. The real story is that AMD would lose money on a high end part if it wasn’t competitive, which is why we feel that there’s nothing more expensive than the 2900 XT. It’s not a huge deal because the number of people buying > $399 graphics cards is limited, but before we’ve started the review AMD is already giving up ground to NVIDIA, which isn’t a good sign.

In a similar evaluation conducted by HardOCP.com,the reviewers noted their disappointment with ATI’s apparent failure to provide competition in the latest round of video card wars:

It is sad that ATI does not have a GPU to compete with the GeForce 8800 GTX. At this point NVIDIA has, dare I say it, a monopoly over the high-end of computer gaming video card market …

“A day late and a dollar short.” Cliché but accurate. The Radeon HD 2900 XT is late to the party and unfortunately is bringing with it performance that cannot compete.

Subsequent driver releases by ATI in the past two weeks have made the 2900 XT more competitive in some titles, but more fundamental flaws, such as an unwieldy anti-aliasing technique, heat, power draw and noise, remain.

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