The change in the ATI's approach to the graphics market has been evident for some time now, but no one was certain whether things would stay that way. ATI seem however, to be really serious about delivering in vital areas which had served as their achilles' heel in the past.
A month and a half ago ATI announced a new program in order to deliver a comprehensive driver bundle for the RADEON range of cards which would improve performance and would offer frequent and effective updates. It is hard to accept but they seem to have done just that. Their new Catalyst version 02.2 driver bundle offers, according to ATI, a marked increase in performance. These are the estimated improvements as listed by ATI.
In Quake III (1600x1200, Max Quality) a 25 percent performance increase.
In Return to Castle Wolfenstein (1600x1200, High Quality) a 35 percent performance increase.
In Serious Sam: The Second Encounter (1600x1200, Extreme Quality), ATI even suggests a 50 percent performance increase.
Except for these, admitedly, impressive figures for the new Catalyst drivers, ATI also claim that this version is the first fully compatible with MS Windows XP service pack 1, which has not yet been released but should become available in early September.
The drivers are the first to also offer support for the new RADEON 9000 PRO and RADEON 9000 cards. All in all ATI seem to be changing and attempting to make the most of this current time frame which sees them as the holders of the fastest commercial graphics chip crown. If nVidia do have to delay their new board, ATI will be presented with a golden opportunity in which to claim their place as the market equals of nVidia.