Thus, we have reviewed the new video card from NVIDIA for the middle end sector of accelerators – GeForce 6600 GT. At the same time, having reduced the frequency, we have emulated GeForce 6600 with the same video card. I repeat, in 6600 we have set its memory frequency to maximum - 600 MHz, but in fact it's up to manufacturers to set memory frequencies from 500 to 600 MHz. Keep it in mind when studying the test results in this article.
I think that for many readers, who reached our conclusions, it's already crystal clear that GeForce 6600GT is an excellent product for its price of 199 USD. There is no point in reciting all the tests that we carried out. It's clear that the disadvantage of this card is the 128-bit bus and a two-channel controller, which sometimes balk its performance in AA modes. But in games the chip speed is more critical than the memory bandwidth, and the weak point with AA is compensated by the core frequency. So, the card works smooth in this mode. And don't forget that to reach more memory efficiency, having processed 8 values per clock the processor writes only 4 of them. The remaining 4 are written later. That's why the effect from 8 pipelines will be achieved only in modern games, where the number of textures exceeds 2 and the engine supports caching and buffering. On the one hand, this is a reduction of what had already been achieved in 6800. On the other hand, the bus limit has its effect and you somehow have to get out of this scrape. That's why a question arises – why hadn't they designed NV43 with a 256-bit bus and cheaper memory (the price difference with GDDR3 would have compensated all the expenses for a more expensive PCB and an expanded GPU location), they wouldn't have had to reinvent a wheel then.
GeForce 6600 emulation demonstrated that this product is potentially very good. To be more exact, it can be splendid, if the manufacturers don't stifle it with slow memory (they are quite able to use 200 (400) MHz memory with an 8-pipeline chip).
It's clear that the previous PCX5900 and PCX5750 are retiring to give place to the new products – GeForce 6600GT and 6600. However, retiring is too strong a word, because while PCX system sales have not yet started in full strength and the demand for such systems is sporadic, it would be hasty to say goodbye to PCX5900 PCX5750 before their mass sales actually start.
I wanted to end this article in a major key... But! The fact that these new products are only for PCI-E bemires my soul (I'm honest)! Even the best product in the whole world will decay and be off, if you do not put it into a fridge and wait until... you buy the fridge and deliver it home. It's crystal clear that the most popular market is AGP, both retail and OEM sectors! And if in the OEM sector the picture may change, the retail sector will remain the same for a long time! Why not to launch TWO modifications of the card with AGP and PCX? Why refer to the manufacturers, who will estimate the demand themselves and will decide whether to produce AGP cards or not. Remember that NV43 requires the HSI bridge to operate on AGP (the same bridge as we saw in PCX5750/5900, only in this case it will work vice versa). And thus, a new PCB layout will be required. This will not obviously promote the reduction of prices for the new cards. And the resulting performance of the cards is obscure. Thus, so far this annoying fact wet-blankets the dashing capacity of the latest products from NVIDIA.
What's ATI up to in response to this launch? For now we only know a codename – RV410. The rest is only rumours circulating over the world wide network. That's why we shall not give any comments, everything was provided in the table in the beginning of the article. There is however one interesting detail: there is a chance of launching a senior model in the RV410 series with a 256-bit bus.
Think about it: the Ultra suffix is obviously reserved by NVIDIA deliberately, and it is not yet used with 6600, while all new cards had always been released with an Ultra model before. And now 6600GT. And so, considering the wonderful overclocking potential in 6600GT as well as the future products from ATI (and their results), we can assume that after RV410 is released, NVIDIA will launch 6600 Ultra. And now the californians are just waiting to see what's in stock of the canadian company. It is ridiculous but it looks like ATI is also waiting. Waiting to see the results demonstrated by 6600GT, you know why... RV410 is still not announced.
It should be noted though that if the rumours are true and the senior RV410 model is released with the same characteristics as 6600GT, it will obviously be defeated, because the legacy of the NV40/R420 architecture is that each megaherz in NV40 returns more than in R420.
Let's not rush it, we'll wait and see. And now we are congratulating NVIDIA with a successful release in the middle end sector of the video cards market and wish them to design AGP counterparts of these PCI-E video cards. And then the dark past of NV3x will really pass away, the new cards being much more successful in all respects.
In our 3DiGest you can find more detailed comparisons of various video cards.
REMEMBER, this is only the first part of our series of articles devoted to NV43! To be continued!
We express our thanks to "NVIDIA"
for the provided video cards.
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Andrey Vorobiev (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Alexander Medvedev (email@example.com)
07 September, 2004
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