NVIDIA GeForce 6600 GT: A Doomer’s Dream
NVIDIA was the first to hear the market’s cry for new technologies at affordable prices by introducing its GeForce 6600 GT in the middle of August and disclosing its features in early September. Read more about it in our article called Knowing the Depths: NVIDIA GeForce 6600 GT Architecture.
The newcomer was in fact one half of the GeForce 6800 Ultra, having half the pixel and vertex processors of the latter; the memory bus was also reduced in double. In other words, the chip had 8 pixel pipelines, 3 vertex processors, a 128-bit memory bus and all the technologies peculiar to the GeForce 6800.
The GeForce 6600 core consisted of 143 million transistors. Combined with NVIDIA’s new 0.11-micron tech process this allowed to reach frequencies of about 500MHz. The power consumption and heat dissipation characteristics remained on the same level, thus sparing the company the trouble of putting a sophisticated cooling system on. The additional power connector was removed as the PCI Express slot could supply up to 75 watts of power to the graphics card. The new product was also NVIDIA’s first chip to natively support PCI Express, without any external bridges.
NVIDIA announced two graphics cards with the new chip: the GeForce 6600 GT was clocked at 500/1000MHz and cost $199, while the PCB design, the amount and frequency of graphics memory and the price of the cheaper GeForce 6600 were decided upon by the manufacturer of the card. Like the GeForce 6800 series for PCI Express, the GeForce 6600 GT supported the SLI mode, but the junior model didn’t.
The GeForce 6600 GT came out a very well-done product, with a simple PCB design and a compact cooler. In tests it would surpass the RADEON 9800 XT save for the 4x FSAA + 16x anisotropic filtering mode in 1600x1200 resolution where the narrowness of the 128-bit bus played a negative role (for more detailed benchmarking results see our article called NVIDIA GeForce 6600 GT Assaults Mainstream Gaming Market). Besides that, the video processor that NVIDIA had been touting since the announcement of the GeForce 6800 Ultra worked normally at last in the GeForce 6600 GT, easily handling the decoding of HDTV, for example.
Thanks to UltraShadow II technology, inherited from the top-end GeForce 6800, NVIDIA advertised the GeForce 6600 GT as a graphics card most suitable for playing Doom 3, which had been released by that time.