Today we had a chance to meet NVIDIA’s newest graphics processor formerly code-named NV40. Traditionally, this chip will be the ancestor of a new family of graphics processing units from the Santa Clara, California-based company. Without any doubts, the debut of the GeForce 6800 Ultra is a massive success for NVIDIA – we are very impressed by its performance and are confident that the new chip is the fastest graphics processor for gamers we have tested so far.
Synthetic tests we ran on the NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra revealed that there are no dramatic drawbacks in the architecture of the chip. We are pretty optimistic about the balance of this architecture, its ability to scale in the future as well as performance the graphics processor is able deliver in today’s and tomorrow’s applications. Benchmarking of the real-world games just confirmed the theory – the NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra demonstrated spectacular speed even in the most complex and high-quality modes.
Some disputes may begin concerning the new approach of anisotropic filtering NVIDIA employed into its novelty, nevertheless, we think that in overall the decision was right. Being very fast and not affecting performance too negatively, the new anisotropic filtering pattern is able to deliver excellent image quality in the majority of the cases. Improvements in full-scene antialiasing techniques are considered strictly positively as with breath-taking performance improvement we got fabulous image quality improvement too, something that we constantly expect from new generations of graphics processors.
Nevertheless, NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra is not only an impressive performaner in 3D games, but also has such advantages as:
- Support for Pixel Shaders 3.0 and Vertex Shaders 3.0.
- HPDR – new internal color representation.
- Dramatically revamped pixel processor delivering amazing performance.
- More powerful vertex processor compared to predecessors.
- Built-in programmable video processor.
- New anisotropic filtering pattern, even though, with some drawbacks.
- New, improved full-scene antialiasing algorithm.
Bearing in mind the incredible performance NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra delivers in absolutely all types of games, including titles with plethora of Pixel Shaders 2.0, as well as support for promising Pixel Shaders 3.0, graphics cards based on the new NV40 chip have all chances to become the best choice of the Spring 2004, especially while the competitor – ATI R420 – is still under wraps and its performance is unclear.
NVIDIA claims that the NV40 architecture was developed with industry requirements as well as software developers’ requests in mind. In case this is correct, the company has all chances to receive multitude of positive feedback about the GeForce 6800 Ultra processor and its architecture. As a result of this, capabilities of the novelty are very likely to be utilized in future games and professional applications.
What is very important for us is that performance demonstrated by NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra is something that is achieved by using the complex of hardware and software, but not application-specific optimizations. Our own benchmark displays overwhelming speed improvement of the GeForce 6800 Ultra over the previous generations of chips. Given that Xbitmark is something that is available only in our labs, we are safe to say that NVIDIA ForceWare drivers contain no app-specific optimizations for this test and the power of NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra is something absolutely real.
Obviously, NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra has its drawbacks, but not a lot of them:
- Too large cooling system.
- Very strict requirements for PSU (480W).
- Moderate overclockability (this may be a peculiarity of our graphics card).
- Image quality issues with certain games and some bugs in drivers.
Nevertheless, such issues are resolvable on the whole.
Massive cooling system can be substituted with something more compact by actual makers of graphic cards. IBM has all what it takes to tweak its fabrication process to increase the yield and possibly overclockability if the NV40 chips.
Software development for the new graphics chips became a tricky task once GPUs became very complex and feature-rich. There are no surprises that certain games have image artifacts, video processor is not yet enabled and Pixel Shaders 3.0 do not function properly. Bugs and driver issues are inevitable nowadays and considering that the GeForce 6800 Ultra is not yet available, it makes no sense to blame developers for certain drawbacks with the software. Hopefully, once the GeForce 6800 Ultra hits the stores at $499 price-point, everything with the drivers will be resolved. On the whole, at this point we are pretty satisfied with the ForceWare 60.72.
To sum up, NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra is the world’s fastest graphics card with plethora of “beyond-DirectX 9.0” capabilities that is able to satisfy your needs today and tomorrow. Probably one of the best things around money can buy!
We are now looking forward for games to deploy all the spectacular features the new graphics processors have...