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A leading graphics cards maker Leadtek Research has quietly rolled-out a flavour of its high-end Winfast A400 GT graphics card with reduced memory speed compared to the original design. The new product is likely to be slower compared to the reference cards by NVIDIA Corp., the reasons behind the move are unclear.

An observer has sent X-bit labs a note where he said Leadtek had started to produce lower-speed flavours of its graphics cards based on NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT graphics processing units in late September, 2004, and had not declare such products on at least some of its web-sites. The so-called Winfast A400GT ‘Lite’ clocks GPU at 350MHz, the speed recommended by NVIDIA Corp. for the “GT” flavour of its GeForce 6800 chip, but offers reduced memory speed of 900MHz, down from 1000MHz suggested by the graphics processor developer.

A Leadtek’s spokesperson in the USA did not respond to the enquiry seeking for comments on the matter. However, GameVE.com online store offered Leadtek’s A400 GT product with 350MHz/900MHz speeds for GPU/memory at press time.

The NVIDIA GeForce 6800-series of chips unveiled in mid-April are the company’s flagship products in the GeForce 6-series of graphics processors. The GeForce 6-series of graphics processors will be eventually available across entry-level, mainstream, performance-mainstream, high-end as well as 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 capabilities, such as Shader Model 3.0, as well as great performance improvements over the previous generation hardware.

So far NVIDIA has unveiled four GeForce 6800-series graphics processors: the GeForce 6800 Ultra, GeForce 6800 GT, GeForce 6800 and GeForce 6800 LE that differ by clock-speed, the number of rendering pipelines as well as type of memory they work with. The “Ultra” and “GT” models feature 16 pixel processors and 256MB of GDDR3 memory, the standard model sports 12 pipes and uses 128MB of DDR memory, the “LE” flavour boasts only 8 pixel pipelines and 128MB of memory.

It is unclear whether Leadtek’s A400 GT ‘Lite’ has any restrictions or specification changes with the graphics processing unit compared to the original GeForce 6800 GT design and recommendations in addition to lower-speed memory.

The reasons for Leadtek to produce a graphics card with a high-end enthusiast GPU and relatively low-speed memory, which is likely to undermine performance of the product in cases where memory bandwidth is critically required, such as running games with full-scene antialiasing enabled, is unclear. Some observers cite insufficient supply of GDDR3 memory for high-end graphics cards, however, such assumption does not explain why both NVIDIA Corp. and ATI Technologies recommend graphics card makers to use GDDR3 DRAMs clocked at about 1000MHz with graphics cards like GeForce FX 5700 Ultra, GeForce 6600 GT, RADEON X800 PRO and RADEON X700 PRO/XT, which are available in mass quantities today or will be in short-term future.

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