NVIDIA's GeForce 7800 GTX Hits The Ground Runningby Derek Wilson on June 22, 2005 9:00 AM EST
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Final WordsIt's taken three generations of revisions, augmentation, and massaging to get where we are, but the G70 is a testament to the potential the original NV30 design possessed. Using the knowledge gained from their experiences with NV3x and NV4x, the G70 is a very refined implementation of a well designed part.
With a max of three times the MADD throughput, 50% more pixel pipes, and 33% more vertex power than 6800 Ultra, the GeForce 7800 GTX is a force with which to be reckoned. Putting this much processing power into a package that pulls less juice from the wall than a 6800 Ultra is quite a feat as well. The 300+ million transistors fabbed on a 110 nm process are quite capable, and NVIDIA's compiler technology is finally mature to the point of handling all games with no shader replacement.
Adding transparency AA and further enhancing the efficiency of their PureVideo hardware will be the most tangible feature additions of the GeForce 7800 GTX. The tweaks in the pipeline really only come in performance numbers rather than feature enhancements. As there has been no DirectX update since the last part, NVIDIA has opted not to introduce any extra features. Their reasoning is that developers are slow enough to adopt DirectX changes, let alone a feature that would only run using OpenGL extensions.
Even though features haven't been added to the vertex and pixel shaders directly, the increased power will allow game developers more freedom to generate more incredible and amazing experiences. Though not seen in any game out now or coming out in the near term, the 7800 GTX does offer the ability to render nearly "Sprits Within" quality graphics in real-time. Games that live up to this example (such as Unreal Tournament 2007) still have quite a ways to go before they make it into our hands and onto our hardware, but it is nice to know the 7800 GTX has the power to run these applications when they do come along.
It is quite difficult to sum up this launch. From what is essentially a very thorough refresh of NV4x, we've got something that is more than the sum of its parts. The GeForce 7800 GTX is capable of smooth frame rates at incredibly high resolutions. Succeeding in bringing hardware and compiler together for a solution that does a better job of keeping the hardware busy than previous generations is definitely one of the most important aspects of this part. Eliminating shader replacement and performing this well is no feat to be underestimated.
Aside from the well executed hardware, NVIDIA has pulled off an incredible launch with availability right now. A quick look in our RealTime Price Engine shows several brands already available as low as $569. We can't stress enough how happy we are with NVIDIA's push to provide product in the retail market on the same day the product is announced. ATI really needs to follow suit on this one with their upcoming Crossfire launches.
For $600 we would like to see 512MB onboard, but with the current gaming landscape we certainly agree that more than 256MB is not an absolute necessity. But the GeForce 7800 GTX would have no reason to exist right now if not to accommodate future titles that will be more taxing than current games.
Overall, we consider this a successful launch. Aside from the performance of the 7800 GTX, we can infer that the PS3's RSX will be even more powerful than the G70. As RSX will be a 90nm part and will still have some time to develop further, the design will likely be even easier to program, faster, and full of more new features.