Articles: Graphics

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Nvidia GeForce 8800-series has managed to take the market of high-end graphics accelerators by storm with three models. Nonetheless, not a lot of gamers can afford graphics boards that cost $299 and above, which is why the bulk of graphics processor developers comes from much more affordable offerings.

According to Jon Peddie Research, around 75% of add-in-board graphics market revenues come from sales of graphics cards that are valued at $150 - $229 in the retail. While Nvidia has launched a version of its GeForce 8800 GTS with 320MB of memory that carries manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) tag of $299, the board does not have a lot of chances to quickly drop $50 or so, as even large distributors in the U.S. offer such cards to their clients for approximately $290 - $320 or even more depending on manufacturer, bundle and clock-speeds.

Even though Nvidia’s GeForce 7 lineup can serve the market of graphics cards priced between $150 and $229 pretty well and the firm hardly feels a lot of need in updating its current lineup from financial or market share perspective, Nvidia has strategic reasons to release a cost-effective lineup of DirectX 10-compliant chips.

There is no news that while discrete graphics processors from ATI, Nvidia or S3 Graphics can perform certain functions of DirectX, they all do it in different ways. For example, Nvdia’s DirectX 9.0 hardware could operate faster with partial precision, whereas ATI’s DirectX 9.0 always used full precision and could not benefit from partial even when game developers forced it for Nvidia hardware. Besides, there are a number of other peculiarities of implementation that need to be taken into account by software makers either to get performance boost or to avoid speed drops.

However, game developers will hardly tweak their titles for high-end hardware that is owned by 5% of their customers. That said, Nvidia needs to have a broad family of DirectX 10-compliant graphics processing units at different price points on the market so to force programmers to tune their game engines for the new architecture. Since Nvidia’s arch rival ATI, graphics product group of Advanced Micro Devices, was, according to some sources, hold the release of the code-named R600 graphics chip till the more affordable RV610 and RV630 are available for shipping, mid-April seems to be nearly the right time for Nvidia to unveil the new family: game developers who already use the GeForce 8800-series will focus their efforts entirely on the GeForce 8 and AMD risks to lose initial DirectX 10 real-world benchmarks, which are supposed to be available in the second half of the year.

So, today Nvidia is releasing its GeForce 8600 GT and GTS graphics products as well as relatively low-cost GeForce 8500 GT card, which are supposed to serve the $100 - $229 market going forward. Let’s take a closer look and find out what the GeForce 8600/8500 and G84 actually are.

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