ATI has delayed the launch of its long-awaited DirectX 10 compatible graphics processor, codenamed R600. A launch event was scheduled for March in Amsterdam, but a breathless PR representative contacted Tech.co.uk this evening to say the whole thing has been called off.

Subsequently the PR, who acts for ATI's parent AMD, sent us the following prepared statement:

"To continue to align our strategy with current market opportunities, AMD has changed the launch plan for R600. We are going to deliver a competitive configuration to market with an extremely attractive combination of performance, features and pricing, targeting a broader market segment in Q2."

AMD will take a battering over the delay in delivering any compatibility with DirectX 10; the graphics engine behind Windows Vista. Many had tipped it to beat arch-rival Nvidia - still having problems making its dual-card (SLI) setups compatible with DirectX 10.

However, Nvidia's single-card GeForce 6, 7 and 8-series setups now work fine with Vista - a WHQL-certified driver update was released yesterday .

ATI-devotees will hope that the delay means the company will come to market with finalised drivers and GeForce 8800GTX-quashing performance. However, timing will be tight, with Nvidia believing it will have final DirectX 10 SLI-compatible drivers in April.

The 'targeting a broader market segment' part of the statement could also indicate ATI will launch the R600 series with more than one processor spec on offer rather than waiting a few months for the mid-range and low-end cards to kick in.

Leaked information last week pointed towards two different versions of the R600-powered board - one for partners around 24cm, another for system builders that could be as much as 30cm in length. The same sources also quoted a whopping power consumption for the latter of 270W.

Several online sources have indicated over recent days that ATI would experience problems the delivering R600 boards to its partners this quarter but few had predicted a wholesale delay.