R520 has Shader Model 3.x support@ 2005/04/06
This implies that we might see some programmability beyond what we saw with Nvidia Shader Model 3.0 but we still can not be 100% sure about that.
We don’t know what actually can be improved in ATI hardware, but we are certain that R520 and all the R5xx chips will actually be at least Shader Model 3.0 compatible if not even more.
R520 is expected in June, so ATI is definitely counting its last weeks of glorification of Shader Model 2.0b and the stories of what we'll be able to do with it. ATI will change the record and by Q4 will only talk about Shader Model 3.0 as it is the right time to do so. µ