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Nvidia Corp., the largest supplier of standalone graphics processing units (GPUs), is set to release a new graphics card that promises to offer boosted performance compared to existing high-end offerings, but also come at a higher price. The new GeForce 8800 Ultra is projected to be released earlier than ATI’s first lineup of DirectX 10-compatible graphics cards.

Current Flagship Receives Nitro Boost

The new high-end graphics card from Nvidia is projected to be based on the overclocked version of the GeForce 8800 GTX, the currently shipping flagship offering from the company. The new GeForce 8800 Ultra will still have 128 stream processors, 32 texture mapping units, 24 raster operation units and 384-bit memory bus, however, its clock-speeds will see a boost: the clock-speed of the processor will be 612MHz, while its unified shader processors will operate at 1500MHz, according to some sources. Memory frequency of the product is 2160MHz, which is 360MHz higher compared to the typical 8800 GTX. The new GeForce 8800 Ultra product is fully compatible with DirectX 10 and features the same list of capabilities as other GeForce 8800-series graphics cards.

This is not the first time when Nvidia releases higher-clocked flagship offering instead of releasing a new GPU as its top-of-the-range product half a year after the launch of contemporary lineup. The Santa Clara, California-based company did that in the year 2000 with the GeForce 2 Ultra, in 2001 with the GeForce 3 Titanium 500, in 2003 with the GeForce FX 5950 Ultra and in 2005 with the launch of the GeForce 7800 GTX 512. In all the cases except the last one this strategy allowed the firm to flood the market with new higher-performance products without spending additional money on taping out a brand-new graphics processor.

Clock-Speed Peculiarities

Nvidia’s recent GeForce 7800-series and 8800-series graphics processors’ feature different clock-speeds for different parts of the chip, which ensures balanced performance and maximizes yields. However, this also means some peculiarities when it comes to overclocking, as clock-speeds are increased in different manner than traditionally.

The GeForce 8800 GTX graphics chip’s unified shader processors always operate at about 2.3 times higher clock-speed compared to the basic clock-speed, however, the frequency of shader processors is always changed with a step of 54MHz, whereas clock-speed of other parts of the chip can be altered with 9, 18 or 27MHz steps. On the GeForce 8800 Ultra the clock-speed ratio seems to have been changed to about 2.4 and now that whole chip operates at 612MHz, whereas unified shader processors work at 1.5GHz. Besides, the new GeForce 8800 Ultra 768MB sports a new bigger cooling system, which should ensure quiet operation amid high performance.

Even though those, who already have the GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB will not be able to overclock their graphics cards exactly to frequencies of the GeForce 8800 Ultra 768MB due to different clock-speed ratio, it is highly likely that quite a number of GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB will be able to work at 612MHz/1458MHz for the GPU.

Still, 2160MHz memory frequency may not be easy to achieve, as the GeForce 8800 Ultra uses Samsung K4J52324QE-BJ1A GDDR3 memory chips (and may start to use 0.8ns chips too), while the vast majority of the GeForce 8800 GTX use Samsung K4J52324QC-BJ11 memory with 0.1ns higher access time. Even though OCZ’s GeForce 8800 GTX uses memory chips with 1.0ns access time, X-bit labs’ specialists did not manage to overclock them higher than to 2050MHz, which implies that Nvidia had to tweak BIOS of the GeForce 8800 Ultra product to achieve exceptionally high frequencies for GDDR3 chips.

Impressive Performance?

X-bit labs decided to find out how fast Nvidia’s new graphics card would be and ran several benchmarks of Asus EN8800 GTX 768MB graphics card overclocked to 612MHz/1458MHz for the chip and 2160MHz for the memory. Benchmark results of such an accelerator should be extremely close to performance of the GeForce 8800 Ultra 768MB, still the actual board can be 1% - 2% faster due to 3% higher frequency of the unified shader processors.


*Asus GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB operating at 612MHz/1458MHz/2160MHz clock-speeds.
**Asus GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB operating at 648MHz/1512MHz/2160MHz clock-speeds.

Nvidia GeForce 8800 Ultra 768MB operates at 612MHz/1500MHz/2160MHz clock-speeds.



*Asus GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB operating at 612MHz/1458MHz/2160MHz clock-speeds.
Nvidia GeForce 8800 Ultra 768MB operates at 612MHz/1500MHz/2160MHz clock-speeds.



*Asus GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB operating at 612MHz/1458MHz/2160MHz clock-speeds.
Nvidia GeForce 8800 Ultra 768MB operates at 612MHz/1500MHz/2160MHz clock-speeds.

Based on the numbers obtained on our AMD Athlon 64 FX-60-based system with 2GB of PC3200 memory and ForceWare 158.19 drivers under Windows XP, the GeForce 8800 Ultra is not really substantially faster compared to the GeForce 8800 GTX. The most noticeable achievements of the "emulated" GeForce 8800 Ultra 768MB are:

  • 8.5% performance improvement over predecessor in 1920x1440 resolution in Battlefield 2142 . Increase in other resolutions varies 2% - 5%.
  • 10% - 13.5% performance gain over predecessor across the board in Company of Heroes .
  • 4% - 7% additional speed over predecessor in Call of Juarez .
  • Minor (about 2%) performance improvements in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl . But we have to admit: our microprocessor limits performance of the GeForce 8800 GTX in this game.
  • Minor (about 2% - 3%) performance improvements in Splinter Cell: Double Agent .
  • Insignificant (about 2% - 3%) performance improvement in 3DMark06.


*Asus GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB operating at 612MHz/1458MHz/2160MHz clock-speeds.
Nvidia GeForce 8800 Ultra 768MB operates at 612MHz/1500MHz/2160MHz clock-speeds.



*Asus GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB operating at 612MHz/1458MHz/2160MHz clock-speeds.
Nvidia GeForce 8800 Ultra 768MB operates at 612MHz/1500MHz/2160MHz clock-speeds.



*Asus GeForce 8800 GTX 768MB operating at 612MHz/1458MHz/2160MHz clock-speeds.
Nvidia GeForce 8800 Ultra 768MB operates at 612MHz/1500MHz/2160MHz clock-speeds.

Nvidia GeForce 8800 Ultra is projected to be available in mid-May, which about the timeframe when ATI, graphics product group of Advanced Micro Devices, is expected to release its highly-anticipated code-named R600 product. Pricing and bundling of the new GeForce 8800 Ultra graphics card is still not completely clear with various sources pointing towards $650 - $999 gap.

The exceptionally high price gap of the GeForce 8800 Ultra implies that either Nvidia is confident that it would be the fastest product on the market when it is released, or the quantities of its shipments will be limited and people will be willing to pay premium for an exclusive device.

Discussion

Comments currently: 24
Discussion started: 04/30/07 06:30:54 PM
Latest comment: 12/31/07 07:35:29 PM
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1. 
Nice!
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 04/30/07 06:30:54 PM]
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I for once think of buying a HD 2900XT as my first ATi graphics card.

Of course it may not be an optimal solution, but I just can't bare the possible loss of a strong competitor to Nvidia…

Sure ATi may have screwed up with the R600, but as long as the price is right (equal or better lower than 8800 GTS) I'm sold.
Also there are still a lot of doubts about the R600 left. By the time it's available in stores (some sources indicate middle of June) Nvidia may slash the prices of the 320MB 8800 GTS to the level of 8600GTS, then ATi is in for some serious trouble, but as they say time will tell.

P.S. For all those thinking of buying a GPU any time soon, my advice would be:
wait for the availability of the ATi HD 2900XT, and if it turns out to be faster than the Nvidia 640MB 8800GTS with a similar price, I would encourage you to buy it. The same applies to the HD 2600 XT vs 8600 GTS.

I personally am willing to support ATi this time round, because sometimes it is better to pay a little bit more for less, so that you could pay less for a lot more in the future...

/4th generation Nvidia user
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 05/02/07 05:31:15 AM]
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2. 
I really dont understand why nVIDIA is releasing the 8800 Ultra given the fact that the 8800 GTX is already 30-50% faster than the R600 Radeon HD 2900 XT..NVIDIA has the performance crown already with the 8800GTX so releasing another GPU in the form of an "ULTRA" version is not needed..specially when the performance improvemnet from such an "ULTRA" is so small over previous GTX..
The price tag of the 8800 Ultra is just insane..NO sane person is gonna pay 999USD for an "Ultra" when it offers only 3-10% improvement over previous high end offering....for 999USD you can almost get two 8800 GTXs that will give you TWICE the performance of an 8800 Ultra..so do a simple math..I think nVIDIA needs to release an 80nm G80 based high-end chip in the form of the 8900 series in order to make some good performance,low power consumption and best price/performance ratio and performance per wat and performance per squre milimiter
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 05/01/07 04:28:12 AM]
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- collapse thread

 
It's XT vs GT and XTX vs GTX.
Besides, I believe that the drivers haven't been optimized yet. Product feels rushed. Didn't NVIDIA have similar issues with the 8800 when it was new?
Wait and see if it's the driver or the hardware that's letting us down.

/NVIDIA user
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 05/01/07 08:50:02 AM]
Reply
 
You're totlay wrong about the XT vs GTS and XTX vs GTX thing..First of all there's not much of a peformance improvement from going from XT to XTX version in the HD 2900 series..the performance diffrence is meaningless between those two ATI high-end cards..XT will be clocked at 750MHz core while the XTX will be at 800MHz core making the peformance improvement ~7% over the XT version which is'nt enough to fight 8800GTX given that the 8800GTX is already about 30-50% faster in shader intensive titles..ATI has lost any chanse of stealing the performance crown back from NVIDIA in this generation of GPUs-at least with the R600..The ATI R600 GPU was in full development since late 2004 and it was meant to be ATI's first Unified DX10 GPU..Since ATI saw back in last November that their R600 GPU will NOT be able to compete with the 8800 GTX's performance they change their mind and said "No R600 XT was meant to compete with the 8800 GTS 640MB"....ATI just couldn't admit that it lost the battle since the HD 2900 XT was the REAL XTX..but simply couldn't compete with NVIDIA's superiour architecture...NOT only that ATI is late to the party but it also having a slower performing product..SHAME ON THEM..and please dont blame AMD in ATI's flaws since the merger was taken palce AFTER the R600 was done and ready..NVIDIA G80 is a simply superiour architecture to R600..G80 is better almost in every fashion...G80 has 100% efficient scalar design Vs R600's Vector and fake scalar design..G80 has a better implemintation of the unified shader architecture than R600..G80 has REAL stream processors and stream processing architecture unlike ATI's fake design. and it seems that 512-bit bus does NOT help the R600 at all when the buttleneck is shader and texturing performance.....NVIDIA owns ATi big time....VERY GOOD NVIDIA..WELL DONE ,CONTINURE SCREWING ATI TO DEATH..
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 05/01/07 09:50:35 AM]
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Erik,

Wasn't it you who promised us the GeForce 8950 GX2 (two GeForce 8800 GTS at 575MHz, 1280MB of memory at 2.0GHz) for $649 and GeForce 8800 Ultra (650MHz/1.80GHz/2.2GHz) for $549 and in mid-April? Did you also promise that the GeForce 8600 GTS will be 50% faster than the Radeon X1950 XTX 512MB? :)
Looks like: http://www.xbitlabs.com/discussion/3800.html

What we have now is G80-450 revision A3 at over $650 price-point in mid-May, GeForce 8600 GTS slower than the Radeon X1950 Pro in the vast majority of cases for $229 and... and that's it.

Claiming that GeForce 8800 Ultra is so fast that it will leave the Radeon HD 2900 XT in the dust is strange too: you don't have reliable HD 2900 XT benchmarks at hand, you don't know its pricing... Imagine that the board may be speedy enough to leave the 8800 GTS behind and compete against the 8800 GTX in some cases and has recommended pricing similar to the 8800 GTS, which means that two of such products will cost like one 8800 Ultra. Which will be faster in that case? Two GeForce 8800 Ultra cards will cost over $1000 and I don't know a lot of people who are willing to pay that sum for a graphics sub-system.
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 05/02/07 05:36:38 AM]
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DEAR ANTON...My cusin is an NVIDIA engineer..(and I'll be too in 3 months) and he provided me with the data regarding the 8950GX2 and 8800 Ultra..since then final specs have CHANGED!!
NVIDIA is now working at full speed to release additional members in the GeForce 8 family of products..It is not up to me..I'm just sharing what I'm given..sorry
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 05/02/07 09:02:02 AM]
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