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Some makers of add-in graphics cards for PCs are considering the launch of ultra high-end flavour of the recently unveiled NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra graphics processor. But the the pricing may achieve unbelievable $599 per unit, an unprecedented cost for consumer graphics cards.

GeForce 6 Lineup Forming Up

The GeForce 6-series of graphics processors will be available across entry-level, mainstream, performance-mainstream, high-end and, apparently, so-called ultra high-end graphics cards. The new series of NVIDIA’s graphics processors is the company’s second generation lineup of DirectX 9.0-compatible offerings that greatly leverage the feature-set of NVIDIA GeForce FX graphics chips and brings important additional caps like Shader Model 3.0 as well as great performance improvements over the previous generation hardware.

So far NVIDIA has unveiled only a $499 offering called the GeForce 6800 Ultra that is based on a 400MHz chip that integrates 16-pixel pipelines, 6 vertex pipelines as well as equipped with 256MB of GDDR3 memory at 1100MHz. It is now nearly official that the graphics cards priced at $399 and $299 powered by similar graphics processor in the plans.

Delivering the Speed at Any Price? NVIDIA Says “No!”

To fight the recently released ATI RADEON X800-series that demonstrate higher performance in certain cases compared to the GeForce 6800 Ultra, some partners of NVIDIA are said to release a higher-speed flavour of the GeForce 6800 Ultra chip that is known under the “GeForce 6800 Ultra Extreme” name across the web. The new version of the product will contain no new capabilities, but will bring a little bit higher performance. According to certain sources, the “Ultra Extreme” will be clocked at 450MHz/1100MHz for chip/memory in contrast to 400MHz/1100MHz speeds for the “Ultra” version.

“There is lots of confusion going on. NVIDIA is not launching anything new. NVIDIA does not have a product called the “GeForce 6800 Ultra Extreme,” an NVIDIA spokesman told X-bit labs on Thursday.

But the price of the novelty with bolstered performance will be high even for extreme gamers. They say that the so-called GeForce 6800 Ultra Extreme will retail for incredible $599, a price-point that is new even for high-end graphics cards.

“However some of our partners are discovering that a percentage of the parts we are shipping will run faster than this, 450MHz, for example. So there will only be a GeForce 6800 Ultra that can run faster but it is the same part and will have the same name,” the representative of the Santa Clara, California-based graphics company explained.

Only selected number of NVIDIA’s add-in card partners are expected to offer the overclocked GeForce 6800 Ultra products. It is not clear whether the SKU will be available widely or should be pre-ordered in some way.

$599 – A New Price Bin for the Fastest Graphics Cards?

NVIDIA and its add-in graphics cards partners have been historically increasing the top price bins for graphics cards. Some four years ago NVIDIA broke the $399 price-point with its GeForce2 Ultra product, while last year it began to offer the GeForce FX 5900 Ultra for $499. ATI Technologies today also offers $399 and $499 graphics cards. But it looks like this time the price stretch is done by selected number of add-in cards makers, but not NVIDIA itself.

From the economy theory point of view, the rivals on the market that is formed by only a number of companies typically should follow each other with pricing of the products. However, that is typically effective when the move is performed by the leader. ATI Technologies and its add-in card partners supplied over 80% of high-end DirectX 9.0 graphics cards during the last 12 months. But this year NVIDIA is likely to supply loads of its high-end components, as they are very competitive against ATI’s offerings and support some additional capabilities.

Even though the market of fast graphics cards is pretty limited by hardware enthusiasts, there is still quite some demand for high-end offerings. Last year Intel and AMD released their chips aimed at so-called advanced users and since then have renewed the product line with new offerings, indicating that the market is evolving.

In case gamers buy $700 - $1000 processors, why not offer them $600 graphics cards?

ATI Technologies’ representatives did not comment on the report.


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