Introduction

A vast expanse of destruction lies before you. Billowing blue smoke rises from the ashes of the destroyed city, and flames continue to lick towards the sky. The horizon shimmers from the heat waves and smoke emanating from the rubble. As you proceed into the wreckage, your boots splash through puddles, sending out ripples and churning up the ashes. One of the buildings appears to have escaped most of the force of the blast, so you head towards it hoping to find some shelter and a place to relax for a moment.

A glint of light reflects off of the cracked windows, and you instinctively dive to the ground. A split second later, the glass shatters and fragments rain down around you as the bullet misses its intended mark. You roll to the side and watch as dirt and rubble plumes into the air from the spot you so recently occupied. As you marvel at the small particles of dirt scattering into the air, you realize it's already too late; you're too far from cover and the sniper is skilled. As your body slams towards the ground and the scene fades to black, you're glad to know that this was only a game, regardless of how lifelike it appears...


That's not a description of any actual game, but it could be in the very near future judging by the progress we continue to see on the graphics front. The attempt to bring such visions to life is reason enough for us to encourage and revere continued excellence in the field of computer graphics. The ongoing struggle between ATI and NVIDIA to bring forth the most parallel and powerful GPUs at reasonable prices opens new possibilities to developers, pushing them to create content beyond the realm of dreams and move onto ground where angles fear to tread: reality. With each successive generation we work our way closer and closer to blurring the line between reality and rendering, while every step leaves us wanting more. Once again it is time to check in on our progress down the infinite road to graphical perfection.

The latest offering from NVIDIA does not offer a host of new features or any upgraded shader model version support as have the past few generations. The NV4x architecture remains a solid base for this product as the entire DirectX 9 feature set was already fully supported in hardware. Though the G70 (yes, the name change was just to reconcile code and marketing names) is directly based on the NV4x architecture, there are quite a few changes to the internals of the pipelines as well as an overall increase in the width and clock speed of the part. This new update much resembles what we saw when ATI moved from R300 to R420 in that most of the features and block diagrams are the same as last years part with a few revisions here and there to improve efficiency.

One of the most impressive aspects of this launch is that the part is available now. I mean right now. Order it today and plug it in tomorrow. That's right, not only has NVIDIA gotten the part to vendors, but vendors have gotten their product all the way to retailers. This is unprecedented for any graphics hardware launch in recent memory. In the midst of all the recent paper launches in the computer hardware industry, this move is a challenge to all other hardware design houses.

ATI is particularly on the spot after today. Their recent history of announcing products that don't see any significant volume in the retail market for months is disruptive in and of itself. Now that NVIDIA has made this move, ATI absolutely must follow suit. Over the past year, the public has been getting quite tired of failed assurances that product will be available "next week". This very refreshing blast of availability is long overdue. ATI cannot afford to have R520 availability "soon" after launch; ATI must have products available for retail purchase at launch.

We do commend NVIDIA for getting product out there before launching it. But now we move on to the least pleasant side of this launch: price. The GeForce 7800 GTX will cost a solid $600. Of course, we do expect retailers to charge a premium for the early adopters. Prices we are seeing at launch are on the order of $650. This means those who want to build an SLI system based on the GeForce 7800 GTX will be paying between $1200 and $1300 just for the graphics component of their system.

So, what exactly is bigger better and faster this time around? And more importantly, what does that mean for game performance and quality (and is it worth the price)? This is the right place to find the answers. As developers continue to grow in shader prowess, we expect to see hardware of this generation stretch its legs even more as NVIDIA believes this is the point where pure math and shader processing power will become the most important factor in graphics hardware.

The Pipeline Overview
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  • BenSkywalker - Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - link

    Derek-

    I wanted to offer my utmost thanks for the inclusion of 2048x1536 numbers. As one of the fairly sizeable group of owners of a 2070/2141 these numbers are enormously appreciated. As everyone can see 1600x1200x4x16 really doesn't give you an idea of what high resolution performance will be like. As far as the benches getting a bit messed up- it happens. You moved quickly to rectify the situation and all is well now. Thanks again for taking the time to show us how these parts perform at real high end settings.
    Reply
  • blckgrffn - Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - link

    You're forgiven, by me anyway :) It is also the great editorial staff that makes Anandtech my homepage on every browser on all of my boxes!

    Nat
    Reply
  • yacoub - Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - link

    #72 - Totally agree. Some Rome: Total War benchs are much needed - but primarily to see how the game's battle performance with large numbers of troops varies between AMD and Intel more so than NVidia and ATi, considering the game is highly CPU-limited currently in my understanding. Reply
  • DerekWilson - Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - link

    Hi everyone,

    Thank you for your comments and feedback.

    I would like to personally apologize for the issues that we had with our benchmarks today. It wasn't just one link in the chain that caused the problems we had, but there were many factors that lead to the results we had here today.

    For those who would like an explanation of what happened to cause certain benchmark numbers not to reflect reality, we offer you the following. Some of our SLI testing was done forcing multi-GPU rendering on for tests where there was no profile. In these cases, the default mutli-GPU mode caused a performance hit rather than the increase we are used to seeing. The issue was especially bad in Guild Wars and the SLI numbers have been removed from offending graphs. Also, on one or two titles our ATI display settings were improperly configured. Our windows monitor properties, ATI "Display" tab properties, and refresh rate override settings were mismatched. This caused the card to render. Rather than push the display at a the pixel clock we expected, ATI defaulted to a "safe" mode where the game is run at the resolution requested, but only part of the display is output to the screen. This resulted in abnormally high numbers in some cases at resolutions above 1600x1200.

    For those of you who don't care about why the numbers ran the way they did, please understand we are NOT trying to hide behind our explanation as an excuse.

    We agree completely that the more important issue is not why bad numbers popped up, but that bad numbers made it into a live article. For this I can only offer my sincerest of apologies. We consider it our utmost responsibility to produce quality work on which people may rely with confidence.

    I am proud that our readership demands a quality above and beyond the norm, and I hope that that never changes. Everything in our power will be done to assure that events like this will not happen again.

    Again, I do apologize for the erroneous benchmark results that went live this morning. And thank you for requiring that we maintain the utmost integrity.

    Thanks,
    Derek Wilson
    Senior CPU & Graphics Editor
    AnandTech.com
    Reply
  • Dmitheon - Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - link

    I have to say, while I'm am extremely pleased with nVidia doing a real launch, the product leaves me scratching my head. They priced themselves into an extremely small market, and effectively made their 6800 series the second tier performance cards without really dropping the price on them. I'm not going to get one, but I do wonder how this will affect the company's bottom line. Reply
  • OrSin - Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - link

    I not tring to be a buthole but can we get a benchmark thats a RTS game. I see 10+ games benchmarks and most are FPS, the few that are not might as well be. Those RPG seems to use a silimar type engine. Reply
  • stmok - Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - link

    To CtK's question : Nope, SLI doesn't work with dual-display. (Last I checked, Nvidia got 2D working, but NO 3D)...Rumours say its a driver issue, and Nvidia is working on it.

    I don't know any more than that. I think I'd rather wait until Nvidia are actually demonstrating SLI with dual or more displays, before I lay down any money.
    Reply
  • yacoub - Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - link

    #60 - it's already to the point where it's turning people off to PC gaming, thus damaging the company's own market of buyers. It's just going to move more people to consoles, because even though PC games are often better games and much more customizable and editable, that only means so much and the trade-off versus price to play starts to become too imbalanced to ignore. Reply
  • jojo4u - Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - link

    What was regarding the AF setting? I understand that it was set to 8x when AA was set to 4x? Reply
  • Rand - Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - link

    I have to say I'm rather disappointed in the quality of the article. A number of apparently nonsensical benchmark results, with little to no analysis of most of the results.

    A complete lack of any low level theoretical performance results, no attempts to measure any improvements in efficiency of what may have caused such improvements.

    Temporal AA is only tested on one game with image quality examined in only one scene. Given how dramatically different games and genres utilize alpha textures your providing us with an awfully limited perspective of it's impact.

    Reply

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