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Nvidia GeForce 8800

Specification

With all the architectural innovations, it is not surprising that the new graphics processor from Nvidia is a very complex chip, incorporating a total of 681 million transistors, even though the TMDS transmitters and RAMDAC have been moved into a separate chip! For comparison: the number of transistors in modern desktop CPUs varies from 154 million (AMD Athlon 64 X2) to 582 million (Intel Kentsfield), most of which, as opposed to the G80, make up the L2 cache. Nvidia didn’t take risks with such a complex chip and began to manufacture it on TSMC’s time-tested 0.09-micron tech process. The company also managed to achieve high enough frequencies, making the G80 core stable at 575MHz whereas the chip’s shader processors are clocked at 1350MHz.

The GeForce 8800 family includes two models as of the time of its announcement: the $599 flagship GeForce 8800 GTX and the $449 GeForce 8800 GTS. So, even the senior model of the new series is cheaper than the GeForce 7950 GX2 whose recommended price was set at $649. As we wrote in our previous review, we can expect now a reduction of price of senior GeForce 7 models to $300-449.

As for the availability factor, the new graphics cards from Nvidia were expected to be available for purchase from major suppliers since the day of their announcement. However, two days before the launch date Nvidia called back its GeForce 8800 GTX cards due to a manufacturing error the contract manufacturer had made. Nvidia says some cards of the 8800 GTX models have an incorrect resistor which leads to visual artifacts in 3D applications. The problem of a single resistor can be easily solved on the spot by re-soldering it according to the developer’s instructions. Nvidia decided to call back at least some of 8800 GTX cards from the sales channels, but not to postpone the release date, although the availability of the new solution is going to be lower than expected. Fortunately, this problem doesn’t concern the less expensive GeForce 8800 GTS, so every user can buy it right on the day of its announcement.

Let’s get back to the technical specifications of the GeForce 8800 series, though. We put the specs of the highest-performance single-chip graphics cards into one table for better comparison:

It’s clear that even the junior GeForce 8800 GTS surpasses the GeForce 7900 GTX as well as the Radeon X1950 XTX in almost every parameter. It should be noted, however, that the flagship product of the ATI Radeon X19xx series features as much of graphics memory bandwidth as the Nvidia card. So, we’ve got a 320-bit bus and an expensive PCB wiring in one case, and expensive GDDR4 with a simpler PCB wiring for a 256-bit bus in the other case.

So, the GeForce 8800 GTX has no rivals in terms of technical characteristics, but how well is it going to perform under real-life conditions? The gaming tests will show if this debut is a success. Right now we’ll describe the design of the new graphics card for you.

 
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