ATI unveils underclocked Radeon 8500

250MHz 8500LE for OEMs only

ATI has launched a cut-down, OEM-oriented version of its second-generation Radeon graphics chip, the 8500.

The new chip, the 8500LE, runs at 250MHz, compared to the 8500's 275MHz clock speed. The LE's speed, claims ATI, will "satisfy even the most power-hungry game or application", which makes you wonder why it bothered with a 275MHz version. Ahem.

Beyond clock frequency, the two chips are identical. However, while ATI is selling the 8500 under its own brand, the 8500LE will be offered solely to third-party graphics card makers.

Essentially, then, the reason for offering the second processor is strategic: to give OEMs access to ATI's latest graphics technology, but make sure they can't compete with the company's own products. That's achieved partly through the lower clock speed, but also through the 'LE' tag, a suffix often used to imply a cut-down or 'light' version of a full product.

Not that the OEMs seem too bothered about that. ATI has sold the 8500LE to at least 13 of them, and four even went as far as allowing their names to be appended to comments in the press release about how nice ATI's new part is. ®