NVIDIA Kicks Off GeForce 6800 Graphics Processors

Highly-Anticipated NV40 Chip Finally Unwrapped

by Anton Shilov
04/14/2004 | 10:52 AM

NVIDIA Corporation on Wednesday finally rolled out its new highly-acclaimed graphics processor formerly-known under the code-name NV40. The new chip that got GeForce 6800 brand-name will again bring the boundaries of programmability forward and will deliver performance not achievable by the previous generations of graphics products.


The high-end of the new GeForce 6-series line will be the chip called GeForce 6800 Ultra operating at 400MHz and containing approximately 220 million of transistors that form 16 pixel pipelines, 6 vertex processors, a new programmable video processor as well as other important integrated circuits of the chip. The performance-mainstream version of the GeForce 6-series will be called GeForce 6800 and will have only 12 pixel pipelines, according to some reports.

The GeForce 6800 Ultra will feature 256MB of GDDR3 memory operating at 1100MHz and will retail for $499. The GeForce 6800 is expected to have 128MB of DDR memory onboard and retail for $299.

NVIDIA makes the GeForce 6800 Ultra processors in IBM’s foundry in East-Fishkill, New York.

“As Doom III development winds to a close, my work has turned to development of the next generation rendering technology.  The NV40 is my platform of choice due to its support of very long fragment programs, generalized floating point blending and filtering, and the extremely high performance,” said John Carmack, president and technical director of id Software.

The GeForce 6-series graphics processors from NVIDIA feature some improvements in the programmability of their pixel shader and vertex shader engines. Featuring some additional capabilities, the chips correspond to Microsoft’s DirectX Shader Model 3.0 that evolves from the Model 2.0 available on GeForce FX as well as RADEON 9500 and higher graphics chips.

For Carmack, the graphics rendering development process takes time. He first spoke about the Doom III back in 1999 saying that the original GeForce 256 was his platform of choice. The Doom III game requires a GeForce FX or a GeForce 6-series graphics card to demonstrate all its glory, according to performance estimations and Carmack himself.

X-bit labs’ performance tests show that NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra is about two times faster than the GeForce FX 5950 Ultra and RADEON 9800 XT in benchmarks that require powerful pixel shader calculations or with “eye-candy” features, such as full-scene antialiasing and anisotropic filtering enabled.

Numerous PC-makers are expected to integrate the new GeForce 6800 and GeForce 6800 Ultra graphics cards into their personal computers coming out this Spring and Summer. Add-in graphics cards makers, such as Aopen, ASUS Computer, BFG Technologies, Chaintech Computer, eVGA.com, Gainward, Gigabyte Technology, Leadtek Research, MSI Computer Corporation, Palit Microsystems, PNY Technologies and XFX. Retail graphics cards based on the GeForce 6800 models are slated for release in the next 45 days – sometime in late May or early June.

To learn more information about the architecture of the NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra and its performance check out our article entitled “NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra and GeForce 6800: NV40 Enters the Scene”.