Nvidia Corp. said at a conference that its current-generation code-named G92 graphics processing unit (GPU) that already powers seven GeForce products will stay on the market for another 6 – 12 months, which means that the chip itself will have a lifespan of about 1.5 years, an unprecedented amount of time. Nvidia’s claims may reflect the company’s vision of the market and may be a signal for action to ATI, graphics product group of Advanced Micro Devices.
Michael Hara, vice president of investor relations at Nvidia said during JP Morgan technology conference that Nvidia G92 (and presumably G92b, a 55nm die shrink of the G92) will have “a lifecycle of another 6-8 to 12 months”, which means that graphics cards like GeForce 9800 GTX will remain on the market till May, 2009, depending on exact plans of Nvidia, reports Beyond3D web-site.
“The new stuff that is coming out [in] the next 3 to 4 months is all on top of [G92], positioned above it,” Mr. Hara added.
According to market rumours, Nvidia plans to release GeForce GTX 280 and GTX 260 graphics cards based on the code-named G200 (NV60) chip in mid-June to serve the market of premium-class solutions for video game enthusiasts, which means that such boards will cost $499 and upwards.
Currently the G92 graphics processors are featured on GeForce models 9600 GSO/8800GS ($119 - $160), 8800 GT 256MB ($159 - $219), 8800 GT 512MB ($199 - $279), 8800 GTS 512MB ($259 - $400), 9800 GTX ($299 - $379) and 9800 GX2 ($499 - $699). Therefore, the new GeForce models based on G200 chip will dethrone the dual-chip “GX2” model and are likely to catalyze other G92-based graphics cards to decrease their pricing (while staying in production), which is hardly a good news for AMD’s ATI.
As a result of new models introduction, current 8800 GT and forthcoming 9800 GT may drop the price and start serving the market currently served by such products as 9600 GT as well as compete against ATI RV670-based ATI Radeon HD 3870, a card that is considerably slower than the GeForce 8800 GT 512MB. As a consequence, ATI may need to drop pricing on certain of its forthcoming ATI Radeon HD 4800-series graphics products to stop losing market share in the performance-mainstream segment, which will negatively impact the company’s financial results. Nvidia does have opportunities to reduce pricing of current G92-based graphics cards (or sell them with higher profit margins) after it introduces G92b, which is likely to be cheaper to manufacture thanks to 55nm process technology.
Still, not everything is rosy with Nvidia’s G92 and G92b. The G92 has die size of about 330mm², its smaller brother G94 (which powers GeForce 9600 GT) has a die size of 240mm², whereas ATI RV670 has die size of just 192mm², which means that it is cheaper to manufacture compared to both competing solutions (provided that yield percent is equal). As a result, while ATI may suffer from the fact that it have to lower pricing in its Radeon HD 3800-series once again, Nvidia will hardly make huge profit selling a lot of G92/G92b in $139 - $199 price-range (which it already does in certain cases).
The guess-work with positioning of both ATI RV670 and Nvidia G92 and products on their base after the launch of ATI RV770 and Nvidia G200 may not be completely accurate since actual performance of the forthcoming products is not clear at the moment.
Neither ATI/AMD nor Nvidia commented on the news-story.