Nvidia Announces Its 8800 Ultra (And the Snoring Begins)

Nvidia Announces Its 8800 Ultra (And the Snoring Begins)

Nvidia has outmaneuvered ATI in the GPU arms race quite consistently over the past two years, adding faster and more powerful parts to its arsenal days or weeks before ATI announces its own latest weapons. That trend continues with today’s announcement of the Nvidia GeForce 8800 Ultra.

This time, however, the specs for Nvidia’s new silicon leave us underwhelmed: For all intents and purposes, this is little more than a steeply overlcocked 8800 GTX. It has the same number of stream processors as the 8800 GTX (128), the same-sized memory buffer (768MB), and the same-sized memory interface (384-bit).

Aside from the new sheet metal on the dual-slot cooler, Nvidia's 8800 Ultra looks remarkably like its 8800 GTX.

And for the money—a staggering suggested retail price starting at $830—even the clock speeds don’t seem all that impressive: The core on a reference-design card will run at 612MHz (compared to 575MHz on the 8800 GTX), the shaders will be clocked at 1.5GHz (compared 1.35GHz), and the memory will be set at 1.08GHz (compared to 900MHz).

Although Nvidia claims this is all-new silicon, the new part still won’t have the second-generation PureVideo HD engine that’s on the lesser 8600 GPU, which means that the cheaper part will be much more capable in terms of playing Blu-ray and HD DVD movies. Nvidia tells us this doesn’t matter, because anyone buying an 8800 Ultra will surely have a powerful CPU, and so they won’t mind that the Ultra doesn’t offload as much of the decode work from the central processor. But we think you will care that unlike the 8600, the Ultra won’t be capable of displaying those movies at the native resolution of your 30-inch monitor because it doesn’t offer dual-link HDCP decryption.

Nvidia says this will be a limited-production part, and we can see why: Its appeal will likely be limited to those with ultra-deep pockets.



+ Add a Comment


They may have the resources to do what they want right now, but that doesn't mean it's good for consumers or their company. You say who cares about the PureVideo HD feature that isn't included on the card? Well for one, I do. Sure, people who will buy this new card obviously will have a lot of money, as well as a good CPU. Also, HD-DVD/Blu-Ray is going to get bigger and bigger in the future, and people are going to want this functionality in their machines. These beefy CPU's will have no problem with the HD content, but if the GPU could do it, that'd be much more efficient. Efficiency in computing is always key, and like I stated earlier, I think Nvidia is just being lazy.




The NVIDIA GeForce 8800 Ultra is an utter waste of money.



i agree that $800+ for a video card is insane



Well, they have DX10 and that's one feature that ATi can't compete with right now. So, they aren't using PureVideo HD on a top-end part, who cares? THEY CAN! In fact, if they cut the RAM in ALL of their cards right now they could and get away with it.

Sure, I'm not rushing out for a DX10 game and Vista because that's silly, I really hate Vista and it's OSX wannabe-ness. That said, the cards do posses DX10 capability and it does indeed improve older games so they can compete quite well-obiviously.



It's good that Nvidia wants to offer a better alternative to what ATI will be releasing in the near future, competition is always great for the consumer. However, just "overclocking" the core/shaders/memory and hiking the price up about $300 is a complete waste. The fact that no new features are being implemented doesn't warrant the high projected price. Many 8800GTX users probably have already acheived these clock speeds by doing their own overclocking. The lack of the PureVideo HD Engine is stupid, and you'd think this is a feature that Nvidia would be putting on all of their new cards. I think they are just being lazy here...

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