While I was sitting here with a writers block wondering how to start this off, I thought something along the lines of, "with all new cards, come new technology...". It quickly dawned on me though that this isn't true. For quite a while now, we haven't really seen anything more then consistent bumps in speed with the new cards. nVidia have been increasing their pipe lines so more bandwidth can be transferred and of course increased clock and memory speeds, while ATI have done similar but also implemented faster GDDR-4 memory into their latest cards.
Fortunately the GeForce 8800 series is more then just an increase in core and memory speeds - it comes with the basis of all that is going to be great for gaming over the next few years, as DX10 and Windows Vista take us to the next level of PC gaming.
DX10 as you may have already figured is of course the most major leap we have with us. The main benefits DX10 brings to the 8800 series are Geometry Shaders, Steam output, Next-generation geometry instancing and Significantly reduced CPU overhead during CPU-to-GPU transactions.
What are all these new technologies? Well, in a nutshell, technologies that will help make our gaming experience not only look better but run smoother. While that might be a good enough explanation for some, if it's not for you, let's have a little more detailed look.
- Stream Output
The stream output allows data to be directly passed through either the vertex or geometry shader which then in turn passes the information straight to the frame buffer memory as opposed to the rendering pipeline, where it would go in the past. This new technology allows for new advanced shader effects like particle systems and physics, which is something that people are talking about more and more.
- Geometry Shaders
Geometry Shaders like Stream Output is a technology that allows for more technology to be implemented into games. With the introduction of this technology new features like displacement mapping and GPU generated shadow volumes give us the ability to get a next generation gaming experience or as nVidia are saying, a "true-to-life" gaming experience - sounds good to us!
- Lumenex engine
The Lumenex engine is nVidia's own technology which is implemented directly onto the GPU of the 8800 series. This engine offers you all the high quality settings like 16x full scene anti aliasing, 128-bit floating point HDR and support for 2560 x 1600 at quote, "amazing frame rates." The engine pretty much makes sure you have the best looking image quality on the planet.
- Quantum Effects
This like the Lumnex engine is another nVidia technology. The Quantum Effects technology in a nutshell is the physics side of things for nVidia. By removing physics calculations off the processor it can do more important tasks like control the AI which is going to increase our gaming experience yet again.
- Those weird memory amounts
640MB on the 8800GTS and 768MB on the 8800GTX - Why? nVidia and ATI both have been implementing a 256-bit memory bus for quite some time now. Moving to a 384-bit memory bus allows nVidia to extract more performance out of the same memory modules. The only real problem with this is that 12 RAM chips are needed instead of 8, so we end up first with a slightly different number when it comes to the amount of memory.
Due to the increased amount of chips on the card, the PCB has to be longer. Hence we end up with these huge cards that have become known to us as the 8800GTS and 8800GTX.
- Some other technology
The latest version of Shader Model 4.0 is included in the 8800 series, both models will also offer full support for HDCP or High Definition Content Protection as most people expected.
Each 8800 comes with 681 million transistors and is based on 90nm technology being manufactured at TSMC. nVidia say that while the 8800GTX comes in at 10.5 inches long, based on a survey, it will fit in a vast majority of enthusiast cases. The power connectors on the 8800GTX have also been changed and sit on top of the card to help make sure no more room length wise is needed.
As far as power requirements go, the GeForce 8800GTS will require a minimum 400 watt power supply (with 12V current rating of 26A). The GeForce 8800GTX will require a minimum 450 watt power supply (with 12V current rating of 30A) and you can double those numbers when you start talking about SLI.
- The Current Lineup from nVidia (USD)
GeForce 8800 GTX - $599
GeForce 8800 GTS - $449
GeForce 7950 GT - $299
GeForce 7900 GS - $199
GeForce 7600 GT - $159
GeForce 7600 GS - $129
GeForce 7300 GPUs -