Articles: Graphics

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If you keep track of what is going on in the graphics card industry, you should know that AMD has met but little competition since the release of the Radeon HD 5000 architecture. Even the single-processor Radeon HD 5870 could often beat the dual-processor GeForce GTX 295 whereas the dual-processor Radeon HD 5970, released somewhat later, left no chance to Nvidia products. Now that Nvidia has introduced graphics cards based on the Fermi (GF100) architecture, the situation begins to change. At least Nvidia has got solutions that are functionally as good as AMD’s ones.

However, our tests showed that even the flagship model of the new series, GeForce GTX 480, cannot beat the Radeon HD 5970 singlehandedly because the latter has got the combined power of two RV870 graphics cores. Such a feat would require more computing muscle. In other words, there is only one way for Nvidia to throw the long-time king of the 3D world off its throne. It is by releasing a dual-processor GF100-based graphics card. But it would be very difficult to build a card with two GF100 cores, highly sophisticated and power-consuming as they are, if both were to work in full configuration. As a matter of fact, even the GeForce GTX 295 was a pair of GeForce GTX 275, but not GTX 285, cards! ASUS did develop the latter version, but its Mars GTX 295 turned out a highly expensive product and was released as a limited edition only. It couldn’t change anything in the market situation.

If Nvidia indeed has a dual-processor GF100-based card on its plans (it might be called something like GeForce GTX 490 or 495), the specs of that solution would be identical to the specs of a GeForce GTX 470 SLI configuration. That is, the card would have 968 ALUs, 112 TMUs, and 80 RBEs. Considering the scalar Fermi architecture, this should suffice to compete with the Radeon HD 5970 even if the GPU clock rates are lower than those of the GeForce GTX 470.

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The single downside of this tandem or single card would be its low texture-mapping speed. The hypothetic GeForce GTX 490/495 is only half as good as the Radeon HD 5970 in this respect and there is nothing Nvidia can do to improve that. A weak TMU subsystem is a well-known weak spot of the GF100 architecture. Otherwise, the described solution looks quite competitive. As for the price factor, the Radeon HD 5970 may seem cheaper than a couple of GeForce GTX 470 cards, but you can hardly find the AMD flagship for the recommended $599. Its retail price is $650-700 today. Besides, the prospective GeForce GTX 490/495, if it ever comes out, may turn to be cheaper than two individual GeForce GTX 470 cards, being a single device.

Thus, we guess that devoted gamers may be interested to know what to expect from a GeForce GTX SLI tandem in terms of gaming performance because it may prove to be no more expensive than a Radeon HD 5970, considering the current prices. We’ve been lucky to get a second sample of the GeForce GTX 470 and are ready to perform such tests. Besides, we are going to introduce to you a GeForce GTX 470 model with a unique PCB design and cooling system. It is called Palit GeForce GTX 470.

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