Just as the NV40 received its official baptism, amidst a frenzy of benchmarking praise, and ATI choose to trouble the waters by voicing some doubt over the, perceived, global graphics dominance of nVidia's new board.
The way ATI wants to describe the claims is that their offering, X800PRO when announced, has cut-down on extra features in order to focus on speed. This dedication to speed, claim ATI, will mean that their 12 pipeline boards running at 475MHz(Core)/950MHz(Memory), featuring 96-bit precision and just PS 2.0 shader, will be faster than their rivals 16 pipeline boards running at 400MHz(Core)/1100MHz(Memory), featuring 128-bit precision and PS 3.0 shader.
Such a claim from ATI, as extremely optimistic as it may seem, probably means that the Canadians believe the X800PRO will give the 6800 Ultra a good fight and will hold the fort for them until their new chip, now codenamed R500, carrying 128-bit precision and PS 3.0, is announced near the end of this year.
The secret to this fight however, remains in the chip revisions which both manufacturers will implement. If nVidia have squeezed all they can out of the NV40 core with the 6800 Ultra, they might find that later incarnations of the R420 may produce, real-world, performance similar to their flagship chip. It is nevertheless, unlikely that nVidia have done all they can with the NV40 core already and experts suggest that a couple of tweaked revisions may surface, as the need arises.
We will all have to wait until ATIs official X800PRO announcement comes in order to see both cards Duke-it out, so for the time being we all have to follow ATIs official teaser suggestion and Get ready to Xperience it.