Not without their share of pre-release hype, AMD's 4870 X2 videocards lived up to every bit of it by obliterating the competition in this year's Dream Machine (a single 4870 X2 churned out twice as many frames as Nvidia's GTX280 in 3DMark Vantage). And they did it months before they were supposed to go public, which means there were architectural tweaks yet to be made.
The wait is over, and at long last, AMD has finally announced what it rightfully calls the world's fastest graphics card, the ATI Radeon 4870 X2. Built on a 55nm manufacturing process, the dual-GPU videocard comes with the computational muscle to deliver 2.4 teraFLOPS, and ATI can still lay claim as the only manufacturer to support DirectX 10.1 instructions. Rounding out the feature-set, the 4870 X2 ships with 2GB GDDR5, 1600 stream processors, and a 750MHz core clockspeed (reference). MSRP has been set to $549 with stock available now.
AMD also made mention of it's upcoming 4850 X2 videocard. As the name implies, this card will also be a dual-GPU solution (clocked at 625MHz), and like it's bigger brother it will come with 1600 stream processors. Instead of GDDR5, the 4850 X2 will ship with 2GB of GDDR3. Look for availability this September with an estimated sub-$400 street price.
Sporting almost the same configuration as the reference design we previewed last month, BFG’s GeForce GTX 280 delivers amazing performance with the second-generation DirectX 10 chipset from Nvidia. It soundly spanks ATI’s new 4870, as well as all but the dual-GPU graphics solutions from the previous generation—and even against those, the GTX 280 wins all but a few benchmarks. The real question we’re asking is, Do we need this much power?
It doesn't matter if you seek solace in Creationism or prescribe to the theory of evolution, everyone should be equally stoked about what Nvidia's calling "Big Bang II." No, the graphics chip maker isn't gearing up to end the debate on man's existence, but even better, the company will improve man's quality of life with a new driver package that looks poised to earn its codename by bringing gamers at least one big, long overdue improvement.
Bang Part I
The biggest news associated with Nvidia's ForceWare Release 180 (R180) is the introduction of SLI multi-monitor support. Ever since Nvidia introduced SLI, the inability to run a second monitor while gaming has been a major complaint, and even more so as LCD displays have fallen in price. That finally looks to no longer be the case with the new driver release, and gamers will be able to frag opponents while simultaneously keeping an eye on their email inbox, incoming IMs, and everything else that would previously be blacked out on a second monitor.
Find out what else is bangin' with the new driver after the jump.
3D graphics technology has grown by leaps and bounds since 3DFX first laid its Voodoo on the computing world, and today's videocards boast everything from multiple GPUs in a single package to the promise of physics processing. And not just for gaming, fanatical Folders can crunch through more proteins by utilizing their GPU, or decode a high definition movie on their new big screen TV.
Leading the charge into this new era of 3D computing are Nvidia and ATI, two companies who have recently started going at each others' throats with aggressive price cuts and a deluge of new videocards while simultaneously chasing the performance crown. But for all their battles, both old and new, it's Intel, CPU maker extraordinaire, who continues to lead the market.
Find out how much catching up Nvidia and ATI have to do after the jump.
Intel can not only lay claim as the current king of chip technology, but its upcoming Nehalem microarchitecture looks poised to keep the silicon studs on top of the competition well into 2009. AMD has yet to threaten Intel's position ever since Conroe, and while the company remains confident under Dirk Meyer as the new head honcho, it's still playing catch up to Intel's 45nm technology.
The situation gets a little more competitive when switching from CPUs to GPUs, and according to Tomshardware, sources at both ATI and Nvidia are saying they will each have a 40nm GPU manufacturing process by the first half of 2009, possibly to be unveiled at next year's CeBit.
Assuming either company meets their target, the accomplishment will unseat Intel as the technological leader in terms of the smallest chip structures, even if only for a short time. The road won't stop at Nehalem and Intel is already busy developing 32nm CPUs, which many expect to be shown off in prototype form at the company's spring development forum in H1 2009. Volume shipments could come as early as Q3 next year.
Even so, if 40nm GPUs materialize as reported, it will mark the first time GPUs will overtake CPUS in terms of production nodes. That won't necessarily make it a better chip, but you can expect plenty of fanfare should Nvidia and/or ATI dethrone the silicon king.
An "abnormal failure rate" among Nvidia's 8M series GPUs hasn't stopped the graphics chip maker from moving forward; the Santa Clara company expanded its lineup last week with the GeForce 9800M and 9700M parts for notebooks. If you've been waiting for these parts to reach the market place, you can now whip out the credit card and place your order.
Best Buy already stocks Toshiba's sexy Qosmio X305-Q701, which comes equipped with Nvidia's 9700M GTS GPU sporting 512MB GDDR3 memory. According to DigiTimes, over 20 other notebook vendors are expected to soon follow suit, including other top tier vendors. Gaming notebooks have also been announced from the likes of Sager, CyberSystem, Infinity, Pioneer Computers Australia, and other regional PC companies.
If Toshiba's Qusmio isn't your style, look forward to a flurry of other 9M based notebooks to make their debut as Intel's Centrino 2 platform emerges full force.
Last month Nvidia said it planned to tweak its 9800GTX videocard with a die shrink and faster clockspeeds resulting in the 9800GTX+, and today the release becomes official with immediate availability. Along with the 9800GTX+, Nvidia fleshes out its GeForce 9-series line with two other videocards, the 9800GT and 9500GT.
All three cards are available now, and each one brings support for Nvidia's PhysX and CUDA technologies, two areas currently exclusive to Nvidia.
"The addition of the new 9800GTX+, 9800GT, and the 9500GT GPUs brings a new level of visual computing capability to additional mainstream market segments," said Ujesh Desai, general manger of desktop GPUs at Nvidia. "Nvidia GPUs deliver the best bang for the buck in each price category, and with support for CUDA, PhysX, and 3D stereoscopic technology, consumers can now experience the unique, innovative, and immersive computing experience that only Nvidia can deliver."
Claiming victory in the bang-for-buck war would have been a tough sell just weeks ago, but such claims become easier to swallow with the 9500GT taking residence in the sub-$70 pricing tier. Both the 9800GT and GTX+ can be bought for under $200, with the latter going head to head against ATI's HD 4850 videocard. For you old schoolers, it hasn't been this fun to shop for a GPU since the TI4200 days.
It's been a rocky summer for Nvidia, who earlier this month saw its shares tumble downward after announcing it was setting aside a one-time hit of $150 to $200 million to cover warranty and repair costs associated with an "abnormal failure rate" in its mobile graphics cards. Now it appears that tough times are still ahead for the graphics card maker.
Citing un-named sources, DigiTimes claims that the faulty mobile parts have led to some channel vendors demanding graphics card parnters to issue a recall for desktop-based videocards using the same GPU core. Nvidia has maintained that the problematic parts only affect a few specific notebook models and no desktop cards, but some have suggested it could include all G84 and G86 parts.
This isn't the first rumor Nvidia's been entangled with in recent times, and as with all hearsay, take this one with a grain of salt.
Have you ever run into an old ex-girlfriend only to realize she's nothing the way you remembered? Or fired up that retro-game and wondered what you found so appealing about it in the first place? Every once in awhile a blast from the past (like bringing WarGames back to theaters) will make a worthwhile comeback, but more often than not, old relics are best left buried, and Albatron might be finding this out.
Earlier this month the company let it be known it would be bringing Nvidia's 8-series videocards in 8400, 8500, and 8600 trim to the PCI bus, but those plans have hit a snag and it might be awhile before we see another PCI videocard. Even though the PCI bus has been around since close to the dawn of time, not all motherboards stick to the same signaling implementation for the PCI interface, and Albatron fears that compatibility with different motherboards could become a problem.
Sam Nada, Albatron's International PR representative, says the company's engineers are working on optimizing the BIOS to ensure a smooth rollout, but it will be a couple of weeks before the new Retrotechnology cards make a debut. But what's a couple of weeks if you've already staved off the upgrade bug for this long?
With ATI having finally jumped back into the ring with Nvidia, the two companies have been taking performance jabs at each other in tit-for-tat fashion. One of those jabs came last month as Nvidia tweaked its 9800GTX with a die shrink (65nm to 55nm) and clockspeed boosts culminating in a new card dubbed the 9800GTX+. So does that mean BFG's newly announced 9800GTX+ OC can be considered an overclocked, overclocked 9800GTX? Holy redundancy, Batman!
However you label it, BFG's 9800GTX+ OC ranks as one of the fastest G92-based videocards on the market:
Core Clockspeed: 760MHz (vs 738MHz)
Shader Clockspeed:1,890MHz (vs 1,836MHz)
Memory Clockspeed: 2,250MHz (vs 2,200MHz)
Also supported are the usual assortment of goodies, including PhysX support, 3-way SLI, HybridPower technology, DirectX 10, dual-link HDCP, and a bevy of other marketing bullets. The card also comes backed by BFG's 24-hour tech support and lifetime warranty (be sure to register online within 30 days of purchase).
But for all that it includes, BFG still doesn't allow end-users to overclock its videocard, nor are they trusted to swap out the stock cooler for a third-party solution without voiding the warranty (Boo!), a pair of liberties given to XFX and Evga owners.