Sapphire Offers to Replace RADEON 9800 PRO “128-bit Edition”

@ 2004/06/17
Sapphire Technology, one of the world’s largest makers of graphics cards, today said it may replace certain graphics cards acquired by mistake. The move was made amid a number of enthusiasts said they would boycott Sapphire’s products because of alleged inadequate marketing.

“Since the roll-out of the Sapphire 128-bit version of RADEON 9800 PRO core into the channel it has been brought to our attention that this model is being met with some confusion and for this we would like to extend our sincere apologies. Keeping with our level of interaction within the community, Sapphire is moving to alleviate said confusion by renaming the 128-bit version to the Sapphire RADEON 9800 ATLANTIS and we are instructing each of our retail partners to clearly and prominently list the 128-bit memory specification. Further to this end, the Sapphire RADEON 9800 ATLANTIS 128-bit products boxes will now be labeled with an oversized 128-bit sticker on the boxes face as well,” Sapphire Technology said.

On Tuesday X-bit labs reported that Jack Kielsmeier, an individual from Armes, Iowa, had established a web-site that urges to stop buying graphics cards from Sapphire Technology because of the company’s alleged unfair policy. The author of the “Boycott Sapphire” web-site believes that the company wrongly advertised and marked its RADEON 9800 PRO “128-bit Edition” graphics card and mislead customers about its performance.

Sapphire Technology’s ATLANTIS RADEON 9800 PRO “128-bit Edition” started to emerge for sale in late May. The graphics cards features fully-fledged RADEON 9800 PRO graphics processor with 8 rendering pipelines, but is based on PCB similar to that of RADEON 9500 PRO – with 128-bit memory bus for 128MB of DDR SDRAM memory.

The original RADEON 9800 PRO 128MB graphics cards were clocked at 385MHz/680MHz for chip/memory and equipped with 128MB of DDR SDRAM with 256-bit bus. Cutting down the memory bus width to 128-bit is likely to seriously reduce performance of the graphics card in applications that rely on rapid memory access as well as in situations when full-scene anti-aliasing is enabled.

Sapphire is known for making rather exotic graphics cards powered by chips from ATI Technologies. The company was among the first to go with the RADEON 9800 SE and also created a number of other designs typically considered as extraordinary. Making unusual graphics cards allows Sapphire to address more clients with its offerings and also offer more cost-effective solutions.

“Inquiries have been made into our retail partners and the investigation has yielded no findings that any of our loyal customers have been charged the 256-bit price for the 128-bit part. Sapphire encourages any of our customers who purchased a 128-bit part under the assumption that it was 256-bit part to exercise your right to return your product. Should you have difficulty finding satisfaction with your retailer, Sapphire continues to stand firmly behind our products and asks you to contact Sapphire directly,” the company said.

Sapphire Technology provided the following contacts for those, who cannot return their graphics cards to retailers, in the official statement:

For end users in the USA, phone 909-594-3128. You will need to present the product, sales receipt and provide the discounted retail price difference of $25.
For end users in Asia contact +852-2689-8888 and request the procedure for upgrade.

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