Nvidia has long been virtually unrivalled in the sector of above-$200 single-chip solutions thanks to its G92 graphics core. This GPU proved to be a very lucky solution, being the heart of a whole family of graphics cards, from the rather inexpensive GeForce 8800 GT to the monstrous GeForce 9800 GX2.
The fastest G92-based solution is the Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTS 512 graphics card which is capable of competing with the Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTX, the flagship product based on the previous G80 core. But after the release of the GeForce 9800 GX2 there appeared a gap between the $249-299 and $599-649 sectors where Nvidia didn’t have any product to offer whereas ATI had its dual-chip Radeon HD 3870 X2 priced at $399-449. And the company decided to fill in that niche and add another product into the GeForce 9 line-up.
Nvidia has introduced the GeForce 9800 GTX graphics card, which is based on the G92 chip with all its subunits enabled and its frequencies slightly increased relative to those of the GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB. Bringing no innovations, except for 3-way SLI and SLI HybridPower technologies, the new card makes the GeForce series even more confusing to the customer.
Nvidia GeForce 8: Eight Products under One Number
A rather weak competition on the AMD side since the very moment AMD bought ATI Technologies up in October 2006, and the lucky G80 chip changed the discrete graphics market as well as Nvidia’s policy on it.
With no alternatives in the above-$599 sector Nvidia didn’t cut the price of its GeForce 8800 GTX but introduced the GeForce 8800 Ultra for $849. And instead of correcting the pricing of its GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB (G80) cards after the introduction of ATI Radeon HD 2900-series, the developer was waiting for many months to release the completely new G92 graphics processing unit (GPU) to fill in the price sectors from $199 to $649. This plan was successful, but the product nomenclature is now a perfect mess.
At the time of the G80 core there was an orderly graphics card line-up including GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB, GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB and GeForce 8800 GTX, and later complemented with GeForce 8800 Ultra. It was easy for the customer to choose the fastest or a medium-speed model.
However, Nvidia did not put a new model number, e.g. GeForce 8900 or GeForce 9800, on all the G92-based products, which would have been logical. As a result, the GeForce 8800 nomenclature got very confusing: the G92-based models were faster than the G80-based ones, but you couldn’t tell that from their names. Thus, the GeForce 8800 GT 512MB was faster than the GeForce 8800 GTS 320 and 640MB whereas the GeForce 8800 GT 256MB was slower than the latter. The GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB, released somewhat later, competed not with the older GTS-indexed models but with the more advanced GeForce 8800 GTX.
Finally, Nvidia realized that having 8 different models selling under the same model number was not right. The company announced the next generation, GeForce 9.