Whoa, first(yes, I wasn't specific enough, my fault) I'm not saying you're a zealot.
You're exactly right about ati/nvidia and sega/nintendo.
You're also right about ATI's support of drivers and the grassroots "requirement". I think that's part of the reason why they opened up the docs for the DRI
As it stands right now, the 9100 is the card I recommend. Especially with the new x.org 6.8 release impending in the next few days. I still see nvidia's binary drivers as being problematic all over these and other boards.
I'll take a two-year old design and open source drivers any day.
Thank god for choice.