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PCB Design and Specifications

Using a unique PCB design, the card has very little in common with the reference GeForce 9600 GT.

This PCB carries a robust power circuit with three GPU power phases as opposed to two on Nvidia’s reference card. The fourth phase is responsible for the memory chips. The power circuit is based on a multi-phase Richtek RT8802A controller you can find on other Gainward products with unique PCB designs.

Each of the three GPU power phases contains two MOSFETs, but there are empty seats on the reverse side of the PCB to increase their amount to three MOSFETs per phase. External power is attached by means of a standard 6-pin PCI Express 1.0 connector. Theoretically, the card could get along without it as the PCI Express 2.0 specification implies the provision of up to 150W through an x16 slot, but there are too few such mainboards on the market yet. Most mainboards in use support PCI Express 1.0a/1.1whose load capacity is limited to 75W, so the installation of the additional connector is a must.

The PCB design of the Gainward card is overall somewhat more complex than the reference GeForce 9600 GT design from Nvidia, yet simpler than the GeForce 8800 GT. The DisplayPort controller being integrated into the core, there is no seat for the installation of the external chip.

The card carries eight Samsung K4J52324QE-BJ1A chips of GDDR3 memory. Each chip has a capacity of 512Mb (16Mbx32) and a rated frequency of 1000 (2000) MHz with a voltage of 1.9V. Belonging to the Golden Sample series, the card has a higher memory frequency than that of the reference card: 1000 (2000) MHz as opposed to 900 (1800) MHz. The card has a total of 512 megabytes of memory accessed across a 256-bit memory bus.

The graphics core looks somewhat odd as the GPU die is turned by 45 degrees relative to the packaging. There have been precedents, though. The ATI R600 and Nvidia NV30 looked the same way with the heat-spreader cap removed. The core is marked as “G94-300-A1” and it’s somewhat surprising as it is revision A2 that usually goes to mass production. It means the developer had no problems working on the G94. Our sample of the GPU is dated the first week of the current year. The GPU package is equipped with a plastic protective frame to prevent the cooler from misaligning and damaging the die. Gainward took this precaution although the reference card doesn’t have such a frame. The GPU clock rates are set higher than on the reference card: the main domain is clocked at 700MHz rather than at 650MHz, while the shader domain frequency is 1750MHz rather than 1625MHz. So we can expect a 5-7% performance growth from the Bliss 9600 GT 512MB GS in games. The core configuration is standard with 64 unified scalar ALUs, 16 (32) TMUs and 16 ROPs grouped into 4 sections.

The card supports all the modern digital interfaces: dual-link DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort, and S/PDIF TOSLINK. All these connectors could not be placed at the same level due to the PCB height limitations, so the second DVI-I port is above the first one and the card has a dual-slot mounting bracket. This bracket would be required anyway due to the dual-slot form-factor of the cooler. Besides the mentioned ports, the card has an onboard MIO connector and a dual-pin header for connecting to the audio card’s onboard SPDIF output.

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