While they can still not supply a sufficient amount of X800XT, Pro and XT Platinums cards ATI is already thinking about the launch of a new chip, called R480, which is a faster version of the R423 with almost the same architecture.
Some sources suggest that this new chip might feature Pixel shader 3.0 but I guess that would mean too much modification to the core and 60 million more transistors to add to the existing 160. In that case, ATI R480 would ironically end up at the same transistor count as Nvidia NV40.
ATI said before that 2005 is the time for shader model 3.0 and that would mean that the new R500 chip will have this amongst other nice features.
One good question is how much ATI can increase the speed of the chip as the Radeon X800XT Platinum works at 525MHz. We would like to remind you that R423 is 0.13µ (microns) and that this architecture stops at 600 MHz and even if the R480 is 0.11µ, which is not beyond the realms of possibility, it would still have speed limitations.
ATI has to response to Nvidia PCI-E SLI cards that will wipe out any of its scores. Where is the Sapphire Radeon 9800 MAXX - a dual 9800XT card that could give Nvidia SLI marchitecture a run for its money?