blurks wrote on 2020-11-19, 16:42:
It is my understanding that all those variations derive from the fact that ATI had plenty OEM contracts and those OEM vendors oftenly didn't opt for off-the-shelf-components and were instead asked or offered to take newly developed cost-reduced variants of existing products in all variations, beginning with the Mach64 core lineup up to the latest Rage 128 chipset.
I wasn't talking about the card SKUs so much. There are a hand full of Rage part numbers that look like they were made for OEMs & workstations, but the bulk of the products provide a fairly even covering map of this cartesian: (Chips) X (Available busses) X (Available Memory Types) X (VGA,Apple,TV Out,All-in-Wonder)
And there's an anticipated handful of cut-rate bargain parts coming out for 1-2 years after, with cut down ram & extras missing from the boards.
Here's the stuff that bugged me back in ATI's Rage days:
1) 16 bit color performance lagged behind the competition and the drivers were buggy. Double whammy in 1999. 21 years later it's not a big deal because the drivers got fixed, 16 bit color looks bad on my LCD, and all that stuff is slow in hindsight, but at the time it was really annoying.
2) We got chips with all sorts of gibberish written on them. I saw a picture of a "Rage II+DVD AGP" stuck in a PCI card. Really? And what was faster: Rage IIc, Rage XL or the Rage Pro? Eventually you just had to assume that the card with the most adjectives in the name was probably faster. But then they did the turbo trick ....
3) And if I learned one thing from Wreck-it Ralph, it's that it's not cool to go Turbo " In February 1998, ATI introduced the 2x AGP version of the Rage Pro to the OEM market and attempted to reinvent the Rage Pro for the retail market, by simultaneously renaming the chip to Rage Pro Turbo"
4) Finally there was Rage Theater. I ordered a card that was reviewed with rage theater chip for building a multi media PC. The advertisement at the reseller pictured a card with the rage theater chip. The packaging showed a picture with a Rage Theater chip. I opened the box to find a Rage 128 Pro with all sorts of no rage theaters chip soldiered on the shiny available, unused contact pads. Reseller wanted me to pay for shipping to return it because it was not defective. Maybe the reseller was intentionally doing a bait and switch. Maybe ATI managed to confuse everyone. It still tarnished the brand for me because they segmented their market faster than a hustler shucking "3 card monte".
But I did love my 9800Pro back in the day.